by Brenna Liebold
Do you think about your skin when you consider your physical or emotional health? Whether you make skin care part of your daily routine or consider it frivolous, your skin matters. Your body's largest organ protects you from the sun, viruses and bacteria, moisture loss, and harsh chemicals. You wouldn't survive without it. Although prone to neglect on busy days, it deserves a place in your self-care repertoire.
In addition to maintaining dermal health, skin care routines improve mood, increase relaxation, and build positive associations with specific areas in your home. The latter helps you de-stress more quickly and easily in those spaces. Planning a skin-pampering session builds a sense of anticipation leading up to it, which increases your general sense of well-being. Effective recipes also provide immediate improvement in your skin's appearance, boosting self-confidence. Preparing the recipes yourself offers a purpose-driven distraction. It turns your focus toward instructions, accurate measurements, and continuous quality checks.
The home spa ideas that follow further raise the value of this self-care activity by increasing water intake, strengthening your immune system, and releasing muscle tension. The multi-sensory experience lends itself well to practicing mindfulness, a powerful stress reducer. Devote a minute or two to awareness of each of your five senses over the course of a session to claim this benefit.
The skin care recipes shared in this article come from 10 years of experiments with my own finicky skin. Feedback from friends, family, and patrons that bought my products at the local farmer's market helped refine them.
You won’t find a mishmash of kitchen staples haphazardly thrown together. Rather, I meticulously researched natural ingredients for their benefits. Then I tested, tested, and tested. I wanted the final creations to match (or beat) the ease of use, appearance, skin feel, and effectiveness of high-end commercial products. Regard any synthetic ingredients, where noted, as optional. I also provide substitutions that cater to vegan needs.
Unless specifically indicated, use all home spa recipes topically, or externally, only. Before applying any recipe to large or delicate areas, test a small spot on the inside of your wrist for a skin reaction 24 hours beforehand. If unsure of the safety of a recipe or ingredient for use in your specific circumstance, please consult an appropriate health care professional.
Do-it-yourself skin care affords plenty of room for experimentation, creativity, and excitement. A new beauty secret lies in wait for you to discover it! I encourage you to customize the recipes, particularly the liquid vegetable and essential oils.
Create a Serene Environment
Take a couple of minutes, as you make the recipes or before using them, to choose and prepare the space you'll occupy. Your immediate environment influences your level of stress versus calm, after all. Which setting do you imagine as more soothing: (1) sitting in your car while stuck in traffic with horns sounding around you or (2) listening to the ebb and flow of waves from a lounge chair under the warmth of bright sunshine? Of the two situations, the beach likely sounds more inviting.
To recreate your favorite getaway paradise, replicate the sensory experience. Without a memory in mind, certain types of sensory cues still trigger relaxation. A warm room, for example, provides a buffer against stress and puts your mind and body at ease. Soft shades of blue, green, and violet foster calmness as well.
Immerse your ears in tranquility, too. Listening to music induces relaxation, and it protects you against stress afterward. The spa day music playlist below features instrumental music for a relaxing ambiance. Explore other relaxation genres on the "Music for Relaxation" page.
Natural scents also soothe the mind. Research most often favors lavender essential oil to ease anxious or depressed moods. In combination with neroli, lavender oil shows promise in decreasing stress as well. You may also find food scents such as vanilla and spices comforting if linked with fond memories.
Diffusing essential oils disperses scent throughout an entire room. If you don't own a diffuser, assemble a makeshift one using crumpled paper towels placed inside a glass jar. Place drops of essential oils on the paper towels in roughly the same spot. Avoid touching the paper towels with bare hands after adding essential oils, and retire the jar from food use.
Calming Essential Oil Blend
Check with your doctor to ensure safety before using this recipe if you are pregnant, nursing, or taking medications.
Next up, add the sense of taste to your relaxation session.
Pour Yourself a Drink
Not only does the next recipe contain a hint of sweetness, known to boost your mood, but it also hydrates from the inside out. Don't underestimate the importance of hydration! Nearly every body function depends on an adequate supply of water, from digestion to hormone production. At a mere 2% water loss, you start to feel sluggish and find it difficult to concentrate. Proper hydration enables quicker recovery after stressful situations and improves sleep.
The following consumable recipe contains three powerful immune system boosters: ginger, turmeric, and orange juice. The vitamin C in orange juice also enables the repair of damaged skin. Turmeric improves mood and diminishes the negative effects of stress.
Ginger & Orange Spiced Tea
Ginger adds quite a bite to this tea. I typically use 3/4 teaspoon in this recipe, but you might want to start with only 1/4 teaspoon in your first cup. Adding more crushed cinnamon stick and not skimping on honey helps to balance the flavors better.
Continue to the next recipe to add a tactile dimension to your spa session.
Take a Soak, Cleopatra Style
Turkish and Japanese cultures, among others, hold steadfast to their bathing traditions for good reason. Hot baths deliver a host of benefits including relief from muscle and joint pain, reduced swelling, decreased stress, and improved mood. They also stimulate deeper breathing.
In the next recipe, I will skip sour donkey's milk in favor of the mineral salts and honey that Cleopatra also favored in her baths. Honey lives up to its ancient reputation, confirmed by modern science, as a skin moisturizer, healer, and protectant. Feel free to substitute agave nectar for a vegan alternative with similar properties. Castor oil plays a role in soothing inflamed, dry skin. Epsom salt absorption through skin appears to vary from one person to the next. Though ideal results include reduced dryness and inflammation in addition to muscle and joint pain.
Muscle Melt Bath Salts
Customize the oil you choose to combine with castor to meet your skin needs. For sensitive skin, opt for apricot seed oil. For oily skin, you'll benefit from jojoba oil. Dry skin? Try avocado or olive oil. Mature skin will love rice bran oil.
Shed the Dead (Cells)
Your skin cycles through a new layer of cells about once every month, and sheds the dead ones. As you age, the cycle slows. Your skin loses its suppleness and elasticity. The fine lines and wrinkles that form trap dead skin cells.
Exfoliation, removing the dead skin cells left behind, reveals healthy, living skin. You see smoother, brighter skin instead of the old dull, flaky film. This new skin also absorbs moisturizers and other applied beauty treatments better.
The scrub below uses brown sugar as an exfoliant to whisk away dead skin cells and leave you invigorated. It dissolves in water, eliminating the risk of clogging drains or septic systems. It also prevents over-scrubbing, as it disappears before it gets a chance to cause any damage. Still, I recommend using this scrub on hands, feet, elbows, and other body parts with tougher skin.
The cocoa powder in the recipe smells divine. It leaves skin silky smooth when combined with at least 2% plain yogurt. I typically use Greek-style, but coconut yogurt works well, too. The rise in chocolate-based skin care stems from its ability to resolve skin irritation and environmental damage. Yogurt restores a youthful glow to skin by moisturizing, reducing the appearance of lines and wrinkles, decreasing inflammation, and increasing circulation.
2-in-1 Cocoa Scrub & Mask
Go ahead and set aside a couple of tablespoons to eat with bananas, apples, or oranges. When you smell this mask as you apply it, you'll be glad you did.
Massage in the Moisture
After exfoliating, hydrating and protecting completes the skin care process. Incorporate self-massage in this step, and you introduce another opportunity to further decrease stress and improve your mood. Since you already warmed up and relaxed your muscles in the bath, any remaining tension will dissipate quickly.
The final recipe leverages ingredients that mimic the moisturizing protectant your skin produces. Oil! Technically, your skin produces sebum, which is similar in composition to oil. It seals the surface of your skin to prevent moisture loss through evaporation. The resulting barrier minimizes scratches and the chance of infection.
The ingredient list includes shea butter. It champions redness, swelling, dryness, irritation, fine lines, and scars. Virgin coconut oil also shows promise in moisturizing and healing skin, reducing inflammation, and minimizing signs of aging. World-renowned rice bran oil firms up skin while preventing wrinkles and repairing sun damage.
The specific preparation instructions in this recipe yield a deeply-moisturizing body butter. Yet its delightful, fluffy texture spreads easily on the skin and feels as light as it looks. Don't let that fool you, though. A little goes a long way!
Whipped Body Butter
Unrefined, virgin coconut oil creates the light, fluffy texture of the whipped body butter. It also retains as much of the original nutrients as possible that benefit your skin. I highly recommend this shea butter, the only unrefined type with a soft texture that allows you to skip the melting and ice bath steps in the instructions.
Go for It, and Make Today a Great Day!
This DIY spa session rewards you with far more than healthy, comfortable skin. You also treat yourself to
Don't let time limitations keep you from these benefits. Pair a cup of tea with the music and diffused oils when you need a quick break. Swap out the tea for one of the skin treatments as your schedule permits.
If you'd like to share your homemade spa recipe, put it in the comments below. Let us know about your experiences with my recipes, too.
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