What was once considered a luxury has now become a huge part of our wellness routine - yup, we're talking about turning your bathroom into an at-home spa.
A little pampering goes a long way at the best of times, and right now, it's more important than ever. There’s nothing stopping you from creating that zen spa day atmosphere, soothing scent and indulgent beauty experience in your own bathroom. Because sometimes a squeeze of shower gel just won't cut it.
With the rise of DIY facial tools, a wardrobe of essential oils and a bouji candle or two, bringing a dose of escapism to your beauty routine has never been easier. Which means there's no excuse for not taking the time to give yourself some spa-worthy self-care.
Read on for the ELLE guide to creating a seriously soothing home spa experience (learning how to turn a towel into a swan optional)...
1. Get your bath to #Bathfluencer standard
Harness the full power of a good soak by upgrading your bath (simple water doesn’t cut it anymore).
Whether you’re a fan of fragrant essential oils, bubble bath or a handful of bath salts, the key is in the scent.
‘Although aroma is something very personal, and your body will be drawn to what they most need there are specific essential oils that hold properties that will naturally help your mind and body relax. Deeply relaxing oils to look for are naturally sedating vetiver, calming camomile and grounding sandalwood’ explains Aromatherapy Associates Global Director of Education and Wellbeing, Christina Salcedas.
If you’re looking for a light relax and don’t like scents that are too heavy, Salcedas recommends keeping an eye out for ‘Ylang ylang, petigrain and lavender are ideal. If you find your mind is not switching off, or you are still waking in your sleep try things like Frankincense or Camomile. '
There’s also a lot of science behind the relaxing qualities of a bath too. ‘Bathing is proven to lower the stress hormone, cortisol and stimulates the release of endorphins. There are also studies that show bathing can lower blood pressure to support heart health too’, explains Salcedas.
Don’t have a bath? No problem. Apply your body oil right before stepping in the shower, the hot water and steam will create a relaxing sauna effect and allow you to breath in all the relaxing scent benefits.
2. Clear your mind
It’s easier said than done but technology has been a huge helping hand in getting our brains to switch off so we can finally relax.
If you want an offline method (because who needs blue light right before bed), Salcedas reveals her simple breathing trick:
‘I am a real advocate of simple breathing routines, so you don’t have to think too much about what you are doing and really do it well. Box breathing is a great example of that. Breathing in for four seconds, hold for four seconds, then breathe out for four seconds and hold the breath out for four… and repeat at least you got it… four times’.
Simple as that.
3. Light a candle
There’s no denying the peace that comes with lighting a fresh candle. Part of the relaxing quality of a spa is the scent that envelopes you as soon as you step foot in it and your house should be no different.
As with essential oils, if you want a relaxing scent, go for candles with notes of lavender, camomile or sandalwood to help you drift off to sleep right before bed.
If you're not a fan of candles, try a calming pillow spray or room spray to do the trick.
4. Treat yourself to a facial massage
Facials that actually improve your skin sometimes shouldn’t be the most comfortable (no one said extraction was ever easy) but facial massaging meets in the middle to give you a sculpted effect without pummelling your face.
'The practice of facial exercise has a long history but it’s often news to people that over 40 muscles make up the scaffolding of the face. And just like the muscles in the body, the more you move them, the more lifted, tightened and tone they become', explains Inge Theron, Founder of FaceGym.
Theron breaks down the three techniques you can use to get that sculpted effect:
1.Chin Press Up x 3
'Make a V with our hand and rest your chin in the V. Pull your lips over your top teeth hold for 5 seconds and repeat (do this 10 times). Move the hand to either side of the chin with the length of your fingers covering your ears, and make the sound Eeeee with your mouth x 10. Put your ring fingers inside your mouth on either side, pull the skin to the side and use your jaw muscles to bring the fingers back in to touch your teeth x 10'
2. Fish Pose
'Hold your collarbone with your hands on either side, tilt your head back slowly till you feel a stretch and then start opening and closing your mouth like a fish making circles as if you were saying “ouch"'.
'Still holding your hands on your collarbone, look ahead and say eeeeeeek x 10 times'.
If you also find you grind your teeth at night without realising, releasing that tension built up in your jaw can really help you get to sleep and minimise any teeth-grinding-induced headaches.
If you don’t have the upper body strength, there are a range of at-home skincare tools that can do all the heavy lifting for you to work out those tight knots.
5. Moisturise, then moisturise again
No one has ever left a spa with dry skin and if you have, you’re not doing it right. Skin that’s parched often feels uncomfortable and tight, which is not the aim of the game.
Stressed out skin often results in angry skin. We’re talking flare ups in skin conditions such as rosacea and eczema and will often result in some very unwanted pimples.
Stick to a moisturising routine (that includes the body too) to help get you to your best skin ever, which in turn, will boost happiness.
6. A hair mask a week, keeps the split ends at bay
We often blow off a hair mask due to time restrictions but we should be embracing the time they take to sink in. Not only will your hair thank you for it but it will also give your mind some time to switch off too. Apply a mask, grab a book and relax.
Add a mask into your weekly hair ritual to really reap the benefits. Naeemah LaFond, Global Artistic Director for Cult US haircare brand amika believes that a ‘weekly deep conditioning is essential to beautiful healthy hair. To avoid tangling and to really feel the effects of the massage it’s best not to gather all of your hair into your hands to massage. Let the hair hang and use your fingertips to massage the roots thoroughly.'
There’s a mask for every hair concern, whether you have coloured hair and want to enhance the colour, or have straw-like dry ends and want to add a hit of moisture, there’s a mask out there for you.
7. Have a clear out
In true Marie Kondo style, nothing is more stressful than a messy and over-cluttered home. When was the last time you went into a messy spa? Hopefully never.
'I always stress the importance of creating the environment first and foremost. Declutter, tidy away any work-related items, put your devices away, put on some music, light a candle or burn some essential oils in a burner', believes Salcedas.
A tidy home equals a happy mind.
8. Master the DIY facial
Sticking to a strict and minimalist skincare routine has its benefits: it’s simple and quick to do and you’re less likely to break out if you’re not trying millions of new products at once and overwhelming skin.
However, sometimes we just need a pamper or a treatment to clear up our breakouts. The best way to do this? Introduce a mask into your skincare routine to either use a couple of times a week or as a solution to use as and when you need it.
9. Create your own greenhouse
Getting a pet might be more responsibility than we can handle right now but a great compromise? A plant.
Not only do they provide your home with a bit of life, but you can even get plants that improve your air quality which helps eliminate pollutants which may make a variety of ailments, such as asthma, worse.
Happy plant = happy life.
Here are the best plants for indoor air quality (and ideal for beginners):
10. Invest in a diffuser
Scents effect our mood more than we think and if you're worried about candles posing a potential fire hazard then a room diffuser is the way to go to get a calming scent all day long, minus the jeopardy.
What's even better is that diffusers no longer have to be eye sores and can actually add to your interior decor.
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