These days have left many of us wishing we could have a visit to our favorite salon for some much needed pampering. That day will soon come, but why should we have to wait until then to treat ourselves to some spa goodness? I’ve been concocting “beauty treatments” in my house since I was a preteen girl. I’d scour my Mom’s magazines for any tidbit of a recipe or tip I could find. I think I even put mayonnaise in my hair once. My girlfriends and I would wait for my parents to go to bed then we would mix up all kinds of mess in the kitchen… egg whites for tightening (because we were 14 and had real saggy skin…eye roll), smashed cucumbers for puffy eyes, tea bags for dark circles, lemon juice to lighten our hair and Dad’s beer to make it shiny. I don’t know where this inner beauty chemist came from, but I’ve always found it so interesting and fun to mix up my own skin and body care recipes.
Maybe you like this kind of “cooking” too, or maybe you just really miss your favorite salon…whatever your motivation, I encourage you to keep reading to find some really easy and quite effective recipes to create your own home spa experience. Now, before you begin, I need to say that as with any herbal preparation, these natural care recipes are generally safe but I always recommend a patch test first to see how you will react. Just mix up your recipe and smear just a tad onto the inner bend of your elbow and behind the ear. These are really tender places on the body and if your going to react, this will show up fast. Give it about 30 minutes and if nothing is bothersome to you then SPA ON!
Scroll down through the headings to pick and choose your favorite treatments. This article is designed to be a menu of sorts for you to design your perfect retreat.
So, let’s see, what are some of the most indulgent spa services? Pedicures, body treatments, massages and facials top the list at my studio. Many of these salon services can be modified to fit your home environment and a lot of the ingredients are likely in your refrigerator or pantry. If not, you’ll definitely find all of the ingredients in these recipes at your local grocery store or co-op.
I’ll start with the most requested service this time of year…PEDICURES! We all know that feeling when it’s finally warm enough to wear sandals and you cringe when you slide your rough, snarly toes into them to bare to the world for the first time in months. Whoa, that’s really a sight, huh?
The basics of a home pedicure include the following: soak, exfoliate, moisturize. The possibilities are endless. I’m gonna start with the soak, because this is where the instant ahhhhh begins.
Pedicure Foot Soaks
Nothing says winter feet like that thick layer or dry flaky skin on the bottom of your tootsies. This soak is designed to soften the callused skin, release the bonds that hold the dead skin cells to the healthy ones and deodorize and refresh tired feet. The acidity of the apple cider vinegar is the magic ingredient. It starts working to dissolve calluses right away. The added honey acts as a humectant to draw and bind moisture to the skin, helping you feel softer and hydrated. Do you find that you often have sweaty feet? Add a few sprigs of fresh sage to this soak to help with excess sweating or hyperhydrosis.
Callus Softening Soak
In a large basin deep enough to cover up to your ankles or higher with warm water, add the following: 2 cups of apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons honey and 2-3 drops of peppermint essential oil. Crush sprigs of fresh sage or peppermint and toss in. Pour into the tub very warm but not hot water, slip your feet in, swirl to combine everything and then cover the top of the tub with a large bath towel to hold all the heat in. Soak for about 15-20 minutes. *Here’s a tip: Fill a coffee thermos with hot water and set it by you. As the water starts to cool, pour in the hot water, careful not to burn yourself. This will nicely extend your soaking time. After the soak, dry feet off proceed to exfoliation.
After a long day at work you need a little down time and this muscle soothing foot soak is just the thing. Rosemary is a wonderful herb to relax muscles while stimulating circulation. Rosemary is also wonderful for reducing stress and promoting better breathing and relaxation. Add in fresh rosemary sprigs or rosemary essential oil to boost the healing properties of this soak. The Epsom salts contain magnesium which is a powerful sore muscle relief and the baking soad helps to soften the water and aid the absorption of the magnesium.
Tired Tootsies Soak
In a large deep basin add the following: 1/2 cup Epsom salts, 1/4 cup baking soda, 2 crushed sprigs fresh rosemary or 2-3 drops of rosemary essential oil. Pour in very warm but not hot water and slip your tired tootsies into the soothing water. Swirl to melt the salts and cover the top of basin with a large bath towel. Soak for about 15-20 minutes.
When the stresses of being a busy grown up with too much on your plate start to get the best of you, this is just what the herby nail tech ordered. Lavender has been used for centuries to help us relax and it’s the scent most of us think of when we hear the word “spa” Lemon balm is a lesser known nerve tonic but powerful none the less. Here I use lemon balm tea but if you are lucky enough to own a bottle of Melissa essential oil (this is another name for lemon balm), well first off, I’m jealous and secondly, substitute 1-2 drops in this soak. The heavy cream in this recipe not only makes the soak luxurious, it also adds softening properties. If you are using the tea, brew yourself a cup of lemon balm tea to sip while you soak the days stresses away.
Lavender Bliss Soak
In a large deep basin add the following: 1/2 cup Epsom salts, 1/4 cup heavy cream, 1 lemon balm tea bag and 2 drops lavender essential oil. Slowly pour in your very warm water, breathing in the rising lavender steam. Swirl to dissolve salts and blend ingredients. Cover basin with a large towel to keep in the heat. Soak for 15-20 minutes.
Sugar Scrub Exfoliants
Soaking feels wonderful but to really get those soles smooth, thee needs to be a little manual exfoliation of the dead skin cells. I like to use sugar in the studio for all of my exfoliation purposes. I know there are some really great salt exfoliation recipes out there and if that’s what you love then go for it. I choose sugar for two reasons: sugar doesn’t burn and sting freshly shaved or sensitive skin and it contains natural alpha hydroxy and glycolic acids that help breakdown the “glue” that bonds cells together. This creates a great exfoliation and faster cell turnover. The following scrub recipes can be used from neck to toes. They are perfect for a body treatment as well as a pedicure but skip the face. These crystals can be too rough for sensitive facial skin. If you are going for a full on professional style pedicure, you’ll wand to use a pumice stone or exfoliating paddle after your soak to remove most of the callus. Follow up with one of these scrubs for a perfectly smooth finish.
Brown Sugar Vanilla Citrus Scrub
In a medium bowl add the following: 1/2 cup brown sugar, tangerine or orange zest (about 1/4 tsp), 1/8 tsp pure vanilla and 1/4 cup olive or sunflower oil. Stir to combine and use immediately or store in covered jar. Gently massage into slightly moistened skin working on rough calluses and thickened skin. Rinse, repeat if necessary and then dry feet completely.
Honey Lavender Sugar Scrub
In a medium bowl add the following: 1/2 cup brown or white sugar, 3 tablespoons honey and 3 tablespoons olive, almond or apricot kernel oil. Stir together and add 1-2 drops lavender essential oil. Mix to blend. Use immediately or store covered in the refrigerator.
Tropical Coconut Whipped Scrub
In a medium bowl add 1/2 cup virgin coconut oil (this will be solid at room temp but melts just above that to an oil). Beat with a hand mixer until fluffy then add 1-1 1/3 cup white granulated sugar or cane sugar. Beat until well combined and add lime zest (1/4 tsp) or 1-2 drops essential oil of lime. Stir to combine. No lime on hand? 1/8 tsp vanilla extract will work great. Use immediately or scoop into a jar with a lid and keep at room temperature. You can refrigerate and scoop out with a spoon to use as this will harden when chilled. Coconut oil melts on contact with the skin for a nice gentle scrub.
Once you’ve finished the scrub, you’ll want to moisturize the feet with a slather of coconut oil, shea butter or any cream of your choice. For really dry feet or those prone to cracking, I’d recommend a jar of Moonflower Apothecary & Alchemy’s Dandelion Calendula Butter. This is a rich, thick healing butter enriched with healing herbs and a chamomile bergamot scent.
I hope this gets you started off on the right foot (I couldn’t help myself) with your home-style pampering menu. Don’t stop here, there are so many more ways to treat yourself to some much deserved goodness.
For more recipes and tips in the Spa At Home series click the links below to take you to your favorite treatments.