I started this back in college, when I was just beginning to understand that waiting until 2:00 am the morning of a deadline IS NOT a good time to start a research project. Back then, stress and anxiety and late nights got the better of my healthy hair, skin, and nails, not to say anything of my mental state. The at-home spa was just what I needed to reset, while still keeping my account in the black. Now, 5 years later, not a whole lot has changed, I'm a little better at the last-minute crunch thing, but I do find ways to fill all that time saved with other worries. I still need a little perk up in the middle of the week to keep myself going. Over the years I've added new things to my spa regimen, and I've tried to keep it DIY as much as possible, which seems to strike the perfect balance between boutique and cheapskate. My current at-home spa treatment menu:
- Baby oil
- Baby shampoo
- Face cleanser or hand soap
- Clarifying shampoo
- Ground coffee
- Body soap
- Shower cap
- Travel-size toiletry bottles (usually 3 for $1)
Gentle make-up remover and tonerIt's always good to start off a facial/ spa with a clean face. Being cheap little me, I used to use lotion rubbed on a face towel to remove my make up, but that got pretty harsh on the skin around my eyes. I have a hard time paying $5 or $6 for a small bottle of make-up remover, though, so I was dead set on some kind of DIY/ at-home alternative. I found a quick recipe for make-up remover on Pinterest that I really like, so I've mixed up some of that. It's very gentle on the eye area, while still being gentle on my bank account.
Things you'll need:In a small bottle, mix together water, oil, and shampoo. If you'd like to make your make-up remover do double time as a toner, also add some rose water. You can also add green tea water: steep a green tea bag in 1 cup of warm or cool water until the water turns green-tea looking. Add about 2 tsp to your remover mixture. Refrigerate when not using (makes it cool and not stinky). To use: shake the bottle (before every use). Dab a little on a make-up sponge or a face towel. Pad over closed eye lids and around face to remove make-up and freshen skin.
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 1 tsp baby oil
- 1 tsp baby shampoo
- 2 tsp Rose water or green tea (optional)
Exfoliating face scrubI usually use my favorite store-bought face scrub for this part (I like St. Ives Apricot scrub line). But if you want to go all the way with the DIY, you can make your own face scrub pretty easily.
Things you'll need:
- 1 tsp or one packet of white granulated sugar or brown sugar (don't use sugar in the raw, it's too rough for delicate face skin)
- Your favorite facial cleanser (not exfoliating), or, in a pinch, some antibacterial hand soap*
Pump or squirt the cleanser into the palm of your hand. Add the sugar right into your hand. Use your fingers to mix the soap and sugar together, they should make a thick paste. If they don't, add more sugar. If the paste is too thick (as in, you can't spread it with your fingers), add the tiniest bit of water. Rub onto your face with your fingers, using a circular motion to increase blood flow to your skin and to rub away dead skin cells.
*If you use antibacterial hand soap, make sure to keep it well away from your eyes, mouth, and nose. Also, limit how much you exfoliate and wash with antibacterial soap, it can cause dryness and irritation.
Vinegar hair cleanserWhen my face is all clean and shiny, my next step is to jump into the shower and begin working on my hair. I want to get rid of all the product buildup from over the week, and come out with shiny, soft and super clean tresses. My favorite hair cleanse, and I mean better than any other super clean shampoo I've ever used, no matter how much it cost, is the plain and simple vinegar rinse.
Things you'll need:
- 1/4 cup vinegar
- 1/4 cup cleansing shampoo (I make sure to use the kind that doesn't have any added colors or creams, because those shampoos can create more build up and pretty much nix all the benefits of the cleanse)
- Bottle to mix it all in (I use a 3 oz. travel bottle)
Measure out the vinegar and put that into the bottle first. Then squeeze the shampoo into the bottle. This will help the vinegar and the shampoo mix together well. Shake it up and then wash in your hair like normal. I end up using about 1/3 of the bottle each time for my shoulder-length hair. I wash repeatedly and make sure to massage the roots where product build up can be particularly icky. I know I'm done washing when my hair is literally squeaky clean :D
Mayonnaise hair maskThis one is a classic, and it persists as a trend because it works really well (as long as you do it properly).
Things you'll need:I do this standing in the shower with the water off because it's super messy. Make sure you've rinsed out all of the vinegar shampoo and squeezed all of the water from your hair. Grab a spoon, dig in to the mayo and slather it onto your hair. You can use a bowl to measure out the mayo into before putting it on your hair, and if you plan on eating the same mayo later. But I'm currently trying to rid my home of all non-vegan foods (getting ready for 30 Days Vegan!) so I just scoop out of the jar.
- 1/4 cup of mayonnaise for short hair, 1/3 to 1 cup for longer hair (I think full fat mayo would work best, but the last time I did this, I used low fat, and it still turned out great)
- a spoon
- a bowl (optional)
- a shower cap
There are a couple of techniques to use here, you want to make sure each strand of hair is coated with mayo. Start at the roots and message the mayo into your hair using a circular motion (this gets the blood circulating, remember?). When your scalp is covered in mayo, add more to the mid section of your hair, working it in between strands with your fingers. Then coat the ends, trying not to loose any. Wrap your hair into a loose mayonnaise bun and cover your head with a shower cap. Now is a good time to rinse off any mayo you may have gotten... all over yourself. I swear, doing this makes my hair really beautiful, but it also smells disgusting while it's in, a sure cure for cutting mayonnaise out of your diet. It also makes me feel like coleslaw, what with all the vinegar and mayonnaise.
You have to keep the mayo in your hair for at least 40 minutes. This gives the cholesterol time to work into each strand of hair, smoothing the cuticles and making everything smell like a ham sammich. About 40 minutes into the future, you will use warm water to wash all the mayo out of your hair. You may get a slightly greasy feeling even after the mayo is gone. No worries, just add a small drop of clarifying shampoo (although, don't use the vinegar stuff) and work it into a lather in your hair, be sure the massage your scalp. Wash out all the soap and make sure you have no more greasy feeling (you may need to repeat washing with shampoo until it's all gone). But that's the future. Meanwhile...
Honey Latte face mask... get your face mask on! I time my spa treatment so I do the hair mask and the face mask at the same time and then I can wash them off at the same time, too. This mask utilizes the power of caffeine to brighten skin, the grainy texture to shred one last layer of dead cells, and honey to clean pores (so they tell me). Whatever the ingredients do, they work. My skin always comes out of this mask super soft and very bright.
Things you'll need:
- 1/3 cup ground coffee (+ more to get the right texture)
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1/3 cup yogurt
This mixture makes way more than you can use in one go, so I mix it all up in a jar and refrigerate it in between treatments.
Mix all the ingredients together to form a think paste. If your mixture is too liquidy, add more coffee grounds a tablespoon at a time until it's right. Use your fingers to carefully lay the mask onto your face. Try to not rub the mask in, the rough coffee grounds can damage skin or get into eyes, which would be uncomfortable (not the purpose of a spa treatment). Some of the coffee grounds might fall off as the mask dries, just be sure to clean up after yourself! Once the mask is on, sit somewhere to do nothing with your face until it's completely dry (mine takes about 20 minutes, but I let it go for 40 while I wait for the mayo in my hair). Try not to talk or laugh for the whole time, this will make the mask crack and fall off your face and a huge sticky mess will be all over your apartment... ick. Watch TV or read a book but NO LAUGHING or TALKING!
20-40 minutes later... jump back into the shower and let the water from the shower wash the big coffee grounds off your face. Use your hands to gently wipe away the mask, but still don't rub! You can also use a small face towel and warm water to clear the mask away. This is when you'll also wash out the mayo from your hair.
Sweet body scrub
This is my homey version of a real spa treat: the full body sugar scrub. It's also super easy, so soft skin and relaxing scrubby massage is a pretty simple luxury.
Things you'll need:In a jar, mix together the body wash and the sugar. If the mixture seems liquidy, add more sugar (this depends on what kind of body wash you are using. You should be able to make a paste kind of on the liquid side. To use this, step into a warm shower and scoop out a hand sized amount to rub on your skin. Rub in a circular motion to scrub off dead skin cells and promote circulation. Rinse off completely in the running water. Make sure to moisturize well after you exfoliate. This can be a little rough on your skin, so you want to go easy on it.
- 1/2 cup liquid body wash, maybe a sample of your favorite flavor, or maybe just one you got at the Dollar Tree
- 1/2 cup white granulated sugar or dark brown sugar (don't use raw sugar, it's a little too rough for skin)
No matter how you put together your own at-home spa treatment, just make sure to remember the main purpose: to feel refreshed and soothed... save a little money and revive a bit of soul.