We all crave a day of spa-style relaxation. The only problem is, most of us just can't afford spa-style relaxation prices, and instead must settle for a few DIY at-home spa tricks.
I know this pain all too well. After a particularly stressful few weeks I had the "brilliant" idea of deciding I would schedule myself a facial and massage, only to do a little online research to find there was not a single reputable establishment in my meager price range. I had forgotten how expensive these indulgences truly are, and suddenly remembered why the only time I ever got semi-regular facials in the first place was back when I was making substantially more money working in a totally different industry.
The bottom line was that I really, truly felt like I needed an afternoon of relaxation, but absolutely could not justify dropping 100 plus bucks on the experience. My solution was blocking out a few hours of my Saturday afternoon for an at-home spa day, and it was genuinely one of the best highlights of my last four months.
If you're currently in the same boat — feeling like you need some major spa time, but don't exactly have major spa funds — here are the tips and tricks I used to make my at home spa experience totally amazing.
1. Turn Off Your Phone
Or at least put it on silent. If you really want to replicate the experience you'd have at a spa, you want to be sure you're not getting constantly interrupted by the dinging of texts and e-mails. Plus, studies have shown that our phones contain more bacteria than the average toilet seat, which means you definitely don't want to be touching it when you're also touching your face.
2. Get The Mood Right
This is also an important step, and could mean different things for each of us. I personally spent a little time tidying my kitchen and bathroom so that my work space felt neater, and therefor more usable. I also played some super relaxing music from a nature sounds YouTube channel.
Additionally, a 2009 study published on PubMed.org found that teens who received aromatherapy were significantly less stressed than those who received a placebo, indicating that it could be a very effective treatment for stress management. So lighting a scented candle in your favorite soothing scent will also definitely help with this step.
3. Whip Up Some Detox Water
There's just something so incredibly relaxing and luxurious about drinking water infused with cucumbers and fruit, and this little detail goes a super long way in enhancing the whole DIY spa experience. Above is a super simple detox water how-to from YouTuber Tati.
4. Pull Your Hair Back
Hair Headband Towel, $3.54, Amazon.com
Again, this is another tip that doesn't seem all that important but enhances the whole overall treat yo' self experience. If you don't already have one, pick up a wide hair band to get your hair completely out of your face for the next few steps.
5. Cleanse and Exfoliate
Clinique Exfoliating Scrub, $21, UltaBeauty.com
In a piece on at-home facial tips for the About.com Style section, beauty expert Julyne Derrick said you must first cleanse and exfoliate your skin in order to remove dirt and dead skin cells. After you've cleansed with your usual cleanser (that she noted should be tailored to your specific skin type) she recommended gently exfoliating with lukewarm water and a scrub. "Concentrate on the areas around your nose and forehead or if you have combination skin, work harder on the areas that tend to be "greasy," she said.
6. Steam Your Face
In a piece on her site, beauty expert and founder of MyBeautyBunny.com Jen Matthews noted the importance of steaming the skin every now and then for a super thorough clean. "The real purpose of steaming is to allow for skin to be cleared of congestion so healthy skin is revealed. As the skin warms up and pores contents soften, dead skin cells and bacteria can be more easily removed," she said.
She also noted that, "steam is also a great prep step before doing a detoxifying facial mask that can further draw out any dirt, oil or bacteria that is lingering in the pores." Skip ahead to minute 2:43 in this video from lifestyle expert and YouTuber VasseurBeauty for a how-to on how best to steam your face at home.
7. Use A Clay Mask
Indian Healing Clay, $4.45, Thrivemarket.com
In a piece for Allure, NYC spa owner and facialist Ling Chan said a clay mask is best for removing dirt and impurities from the skin, and should come after your initial cleansing and steaming steps. She recommended leaving the mask on for about 15 minutes and removing with lukewarm water before it begins to crumble.
Indian Healing Clay, $4.45, Thrivemarket.com
8. Follow With Moisture
Chan also stressed the importance of following up a clay mask treatment with a moisture mask in order to restore the balance to your face and prevent drying. Once you've left it on for about 10 minutes or so and washed off, she also recommended sealing the moisture in with your usual moisturizer.
9. Do Your Nails
OK, this step is totally optional, but I absolutely love how manicured nails feel and it really completed the feeling of "me time" for the day. If you're not naturally the best at DIY manicures, take a look at this how-to video from YouTuber Lindsay for some super helpful tips that really make a difference. And don't forget to give yourself ample time to let them totally dry.
Just because you're not willing to spend the money for the spa doesn't mean you can't get pretty darn good results yourself at home. Just make sure you have the basics you need, like a mud mask and solid exfoliant, and block yourself off a few hours of interrupted you time!