April 17, 2014

Therapy Thursday: DIY Spa Therapy

Photo Credit: Google Images
Life is stressful and we all need a way to de-stress and unwind. When I envision a day of relaxing and unwinding I picture myself at a spa. The truth is I have only ever been to one spa because the treatments are a bit pricey. Doesn’t every woman want a relaxing day of pampering, without spending a fortune on spa treatments? Lucky for you this can happen in the luxury of your own home. Give yourself a day of pampering fit for a queen and you won’t be missing the spa. Make sure you plan and have the entire day for this. It may take longer than you think and you don't want to be thinking about an engagement you have later on in the day, because that is not relaxing. Make sure no one disturbs you. Tell everyone that you will be busy and that you don't want to be bothered. Turn off your phone, your TV, and your computer. Now you are ready to get started.

First things first, start the day by washing your face with a gentle exfoliator. This can be made at home by using your own facial cleanser. Below are a few ideas you can use to scrub away deep seated oil and dirt from your face. Quick tip: Try exfoliating your lips with sugar and lemon juice.

1. The Baking Soda Facial Exfoliator

The range of what baking soda can do just seems to be getting wider and wider. It can freshen up the air, remove stains, clean showers and sinks, and trigger explosions in science fair volcanoes. Oh yes, we can use it to bake, too. But there is one more non-food-related use to add to baking soda’s resume: facial exfoliator. The grains in baking soda are just the right size to act as a gentle exfoliator, and many claim that it has helped clear up acne. Mix in a teaspoon of baking soda to your facial cleanser to make it an exfoliating cleanser. Or make a paste of just baking soda and water, gently rub it onto your skin and leave it on for 5 to 10 minutes before rinsing off.

2. The Sugar Scrub

Granulated sugar is another wonderful, natural exfoliator -- and with all these reports coming out that sugar may be toxic when ingested, I’m thinking we might be better served to use it on the body versus in the body. Mix it with honey, which contains powerful antioxidant and antimicrobial properties, and a little lemon for clarifying purposes, and you have a wonderfully nourishing and effective face scrub. Combine 1 teaspoon sugar with 1/2 teaspoon honey and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and mix well. If the mixture is a little loose, add a bit more sugar.

3. The Oatmeal Exfoliator

People who use oatmeal as a natural face scrub swear by it, and now I know why. Ground oatmeal not only serves as a wonderful exfoliator, but it also absorbs and removes surface dirt and impurities while leaving your skin nourished and hydrated. It has been known to soothe and heal everything from acne to sunburn to dry, flaky skin. Given its gentle nature, it is also ideal for those with sensitive skin. Combine 1 tablespoon of ground oatmeal with 1/4 teaspoon of salt, which boosts the face treatment's exfoliating properties, and 1 teaspoon of water or olive oil to make it into a paste. Gently rub it onto your skin in circular motions, let sit for five to 10 minutes and rinse.

Next, let’s move on to your mane. Has your hair become brittle and dull and in need of a rescue? Have no fear; a deep conditioning treatment is here. This treatment can be done using your own conditioner. There is no need to go out and spend the money on a deep conditioning treatment.

Step 1

Apply conditioner to dry hair, coating thoroughly and then wait a few minutes.

Step 2

Your hair will soak up the conditioner pretty quickly depending on how dry your hair is. Once your hair has soaked it all up, reapply and wait a few more minutes. Repeat this process until your hair is saturated with conditioner.

Step 3

Place a shower cap over your head and use a blow dryer to heat your hair for about 15 minutes. Be sure to use low heat so as not to cause damage. Remove the cap and rinse with warm water.
While you are in the shower rinsing your newly conditioned do, give your body a good exfoliating scrub.

Work from head to toe with gentle circular motions to sweep away dead skin. Just like the facial exfoliator there are many homemade options for a body exfoliator.

Sugar and salt are the most common, and have the benefit of dissolving in water so they don't leave any mess in your shower or bathtub.
Add any of the following ingredients to your daily body wash for an exhilarating and skin smoothing experience

Salt is great for relaxing your muscles. Some people prefer to use sea salt, because it is less processed than table salt, contains a wider variety of trace elements and minerals, and is said to be kinder on the skin. Personally I've tried sea salts, table salt, and Epsom salts, and found all of them to be fine. Your mileage may vary depending on your skin type (mine is fairly normal, perhaps slightly dry). Whatever salt you use, I'd recommend grinding it finely, i.e. to a similar consistency to table salt, because coarse grains can feel a little too exfoliating.

Sugar feels slightly gentler on your skin than salt. You can use either brown or white sugar. I prefer brown, because it smells yummy, especially if you mix it with a little vanilla essential oil.

Ground coffee smells divine, and the caffeine may even have some benefits for your skin. Caffeine is a vasoconstrictor, meaning that it causes blood vessels to constrict, so it can temporarily reduce varicose veins and rosacea. Intriguingly, experiments have shown that caffeine applied to the skin of mice makes them less likely to get skin cancer... but we don't know yet whether this works for humans.

Oatmeal is the gentlest of the exfoliators. It is an emollient, meaning that it softens and hydrates your skin. People have used it for decades as an effective home remedy for dry, itchy skin. Unlike salt and sugar, you can use it with a bit of water instead of oil.

Other options include almond meal, flax meal (ground linseeds), rice bran, wheat bran, and ground nut shells. I haven't tried any of these so I can't really comment, though I've heard that ground nut shells can really be quite scratchy against your skin.

If a shower doesn’t sound very relaxing then try taking a nice long bath.

Fill the tub with warm water and add some scented bubble bath or some bath salts with essential oils for an added dose of relaxation. To add that spa touch, light some candles around the tub or top off the water with rose petals. Relax in the tub for 20 to 30 minutes and let all your cares and worries go down the drain with the bathwater once you are done.

You can also take a sitz bath, if you don't or can't lie down in a tub. That is when you fill your bath with warm water and sit in there for 5-10 minutes without being fully submerged. It's a good alternative to a full bath, and excellent for abdominal cramps.

Now that your pores are open from the warm bath water, it is a good time to pluck your eyebrows. The hairs should come out easily and be less painful to extract.

Next, do a facial steam and then a face mask. Boil water and pour it into a large bowl or your bathroom sink. Drape a towel over your head and sit there for about 8 minutes. Once done, pat your face dry.

After applying the mask, cover your eyes with cucumber slices and turn on some relaxing tunes. After about 10 minutes you can take off the cucumber slices and rinse off the mask.

Now it’s time to moisturize your face and body. Any facial and body moisturizer will do (use one with SPF for an added benefit), just be sure to cover every part of your face and body.

Now that your body is clean and relaxed you can sit down and put on your favorite movie while giving yourself a manicure and pedicure.

When the movie is over, turn off the TV and all the lights and take nap. You will awaken stress free and ready to concur the rest of the day.

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