Stay at Home Spa Day

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I can't tell you how many times I've wished for a few hours to escape the cold, snow and salt of Chicago winter to get to the spa.  My favorite spa, Thousand Waves, closed last year and I haven't found a suitable replacement that fits my budget.

There's something ridiculously soothing about the warm water and smell of eucalyptus to put your mind at ease.  While it's not the perfect substitute for the Roman Baths at Caesar's Palace, you can replicate a serious spa experience in your own home with some things you already have.  This is perfect for couples looking for intimacy ideas or as a special treat to yourself when your budget doesn't allow for the luxuries of a full spa day.  

Goods & Tools 

  • Warm mist Vaporizer - a cool mist humidifier will work in a pinch.
  • Essential oils (I use a mix of lemongrass and eucalyptus, but lavender or pine are good choices)
  • Terry robe - bonus points for throwing it in the dryer for 20 minutes to warm
  • Slippers or flip flops
  • Your favorite bubble bath (I like Johnson's Nighttime Baby Bath or mine is Tokyomilk #10)
  • Kettle of hot water for tea and your favorite tea cup
  • Tea: I prefer green and herbal teas for spa time.  Chamomile teas are great for relaxation.
  • Epsom salts or bath bombs
  • Oils for moisturizing
  • Real loofah 
  • Dry brush
  • Spa playlist - I prefer classical or Chinese flute music
  • Appropriate lighting - candles, the light of day, or even a nightlight will do.  The goal is to set the ambiance to relax.

Bath Prep

You'll need about 1.5-2 hours for your own spa day, so be sure to block out this time and if possible, ask that no one interrupts you and turn off your phone or put it away.  My favorite time for spa day is midday Saturday - I get wonderful natural light in the bathroom and it just sets me in the right frame of mind for the weekend.  In advance of your in-home spa day, thoroughly clean your tub and take care of the basics in the bathroom.  You can't relax when you're fixated on dirty grout.  While cleaning the tub, boil your water for tea or prepare your other soothing beverage.  Lately, I have been a big fan of Teavana's Sakura Allure, which is a green tea with hibiscus and pineapple.  It has a natural sweetness of its own and is great either hot or iced.  

My spa bath setup with tea, coffee scrub, and a candle.

My spa bath setup with tea, coffee scrub, and a candle.

Close the door and set up your vaporizer and drop in about 10-20 drops of essential oils.  Lemongrass will help you feel fresh and alert, while eucalyptus and pine will clear your sinuses.  Want a more relaxed vibe?  Try rose oils or lavender.  Let the vaporizer fill the air with warm scented steam while you set up your music.  Perhaps you prefer the quiet, but whatever your vibe, the point is to create an atmosphere of peace and calm.  Check out my spa playlist if you need some inspiration.  

Running Water

Run your bath as hot as you prefer it, but I caution against soaking in water over 112 degrees - tap water can run upwards of 120 degrees.  I personally prefer a super hot bath, but that comes with consequences - hot water removes the fatty layer of oil on your skin, leaving it prone to dryness.  I'm a fan of bath teas, which can easily be made with items in your kitchen.  If you have dry skin, bug bites, or are prone to itchiness, fill a muslin bag with plain oats (yes, it's fine to use rolled oats or steel cut oats - colloidal oatmeal isn't necessary), plain epsom salt, and leaves from a chamomile tea bag.  Place this in your running water for a soothing bath without clogging up your tub.  Try rose buds or lavender buds with sage for a fragrant relaxing bath tea.  Get creative - try out different dried herbs and flowers with epsom salt to your liking.   No bath tea?  No problem.  Use bubble bath, epsom salt, bath bombs or a little body oil to get your bath the way you like it.

I like to have a bath bar for my spa day.  I use a plain old 1x3 plank to put across my tub - it's a leftover bed slat.  Have one cut slightly longer than your tub and it is perfect for holding your bath items while you soak.

Exfoliation 

If you are unfamiliar with dry brushing, it is a an ancient practice of improving circulation and also exfoliates dead skin cells.  Dry brushing encourages lymphatic flow much like massage does and is easy to do.   Use an all natural brush with a medium stiffness bristle, like a bamboo brush.  Brush yourself with long, gentle strokes towards the heart - downward from the neck and arms and upward from the legs.  This should take all of about ten minutes and you are ready to pop in.  

No bamboo brush?  That's okay.  You can still exfoliate using a loofah, or my favorite, Frank Coffee Scrubs.  Supposedly, the caffeine helps tighten skin, but who doesn't love the invigorating smell of coffee, especially when it's mixed with peppermint oil?  Stay tuned in the next few posts and I'll show you how to make your own exfoliating scrubs with just a few household ingredients.

Pop into your bath and close your eyes and savor the steam and scents around you.  Take a few minutes to relax, meditate, imagine, daydream or pray - spa time is meant to rejuvenate both body and spirit, so put the phone away and concentrate on 360 degrees of caring for yourself.  After you've taken some time to let your worries melt into the water, concentrate on cleaning each part of your body carefully before settling in for a long soak.

Moisturizing

Some people are super long soakers, but I try to limit my bath time to 40 minutes and that's probably a bit too long.  While relaxing, sitting in hot water does strip the oil from your skin, so be sure to replenish this layer upon exiting the bath.  Moisturizing immediately after bathing locks moisture in and you can use any lotion or oil that you wish.  I was really into dry oils for a while, especially the Nuxe Huile Prodigeuse brand.  Dry oils soak into the skin instantly, leaving little oily residue.  No need to spend a fortune - food grade plant based oils are actually great moisturizers and coconut oil lives up to its hype.  I actually kind of prefer to feel a bit of oil on my skin, so I use a mix of moringa, sunflower, and olive oils on my skin.  In the harsher winter months, I layer my moisturizer up - first a layer of lotion (I'm into Mountain Ocean Skin Trip currently), then a layer of oil.  This locks in moisture when the cold Chicago wind is steadily peeling it from my skin.  

Finishing Up

After my relaxing bath, a hot tea, and steam from the vaporizer, I'm ready to cool down and rest.  I personally prefer to put on my very dry terry bath robe and flip flops and sit someplace cool with a glass of room temperature water and read for a while before getting dressed to go on with my day.  Whatever your ritual comes to be, I hope that you can use this guide as a way to pamper yourself without leaving your own home.  

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