The best spa in town…

..is right in your own home.  Here is the routine I threw together for myself the other day.  Open your kitchen cabinets, get out your gardening clippers, and prepare to relax, people!

1. Spend some time outside.  Go for a run, hit the beach, work in the garden, anything.  Wear sunscreen.  Tucker yourself out; it will help you to relax.  And while you’re at it, squeeze a fresh lemon over your hair to gently speed up the sun-highlighting process.  You don’t need those nasty hair dyes and astronomical salon bills!

2. Cut some flowers and make an arrangement for your bathroom.  You’ll appreciate it when you’re brushing your teeth in the morning.  Don’t have a flower garden?  Consider making a green arrangement by cutting leafy branches from trees that may or may not belong to you.

2. Make tea.

Today, I steeped 2 green tea bags with one ‘white tea with pomegranate‘ bag, rosebud petals from the garden (careful!  make sure no one has put any rose systemics or sprays down), and fresh mint, then added honey and a dash of lemon juice.  Pomegranate fruits and green tea are packed with antioxidants.  Tea is hydrating, which helps plump your skin.  Caffeine helps reduce puffiness and dark circles under the eyes.  Mint smells nice.  Lemon and honey added flavor, and rose petals are used in face creams all the time, so I thought they’d probably do me some good in tea as well.  I steep my green tea at 180 degrees, because at hotter temperatures, the tannins in the leaves are released and give the tea a bitter taste that I can’t stand.

3. Take a bath.

Add a cup of milk, a handful of sea salt and a few drops of lavender essential oil.  Drink your iced tea while you bathe to keep cool, and put the flower arrangement at the end of the tub so you have something beautiful to stare at while you let your mind wander.

The lactic acids in milk will help slough off dead skin cells, making skin radiant and soft.  Salt is a natural antibacterial, which helps to clean your pores and reduce inflammation.  I buy my sea salt at the grocery store and can get a pint-sized container for about 3 bucks.

Lavender essential oil contains chemicals synthesized by the plant which are proven to reduce stress by lowering levels of the hormone cortisol in the bloodstream.  This pesky hormone is also responsible for increasing oil secretion in the skin and thereby causing stress-induced breakouts.  You don’t have to ingest essential oils to benefit from their properties: because of their high volatility, merely breathing in the aroma will do the trick.  Don’t be fooled by cheap bubble baths that contain ‘lavender fragrance,’ as this is a synthetic replication of the scent and doesn’t have any of the homeopathic properties of the real oil.  In short, I bought a 3 oz bottle of Lavender essential oil at whole foods for about $30 bucks, and use it almost every day.  Even so, a year later the bottle is still half full; it’s a worthy investment, and it’s one of the best things in my medicine cabinet!  You can also put a few drops in your wet hair after a shower.  Just avoid putting it directly on skin without diluting.

Wash your skin with a scrubby sponge (to wipe away those cells the milk has softened) and my best beauty friend, Dr. Bronner’s Tea Tree Oil bar soap, about $4 at whole foods.  People comment all the time on how soft my skin is, and I promise you, this soap is responsible.  (It is also MUCH better than the Dr. B liquid soap).  It makes a wonderful lather and I use it for shaving cream as well.

Finish up with your favorite body lotion.  I like Burt’s Bees Milk and Honey body lotion, $9 at most drugstores, and have been using it since high school.

4. After your bath, whip up this mask that is supermodel Daria Werbowy’s best beauty secret: Mix an egg with a dash of olive oil and honey, smear on your face, neck, chest, back, whatever, and hang out as long as you can stand it.  I usually try to keep it on for 15 minutes.  Then hop in the shower and rinse off with warm water.  I’ve long heard that egg yolks, which are high in vitamin A, are a cure-all for acne and skin aging and I used to put plain egg yolks on my face.  I’m not sure what the whites do (anybody?  chime in), but the olive oil helps to mitigate the drying effects of the egg, and honey is a natural humectant, meaning it will lock moisture into your skin.  Plus they make the egg smell a little less potent.

Afterwards, I moisturize with a drop of argan oil, which I spread on my palms and then very lightly coat my face.  This stuff is like a liquid gold moisturizer, and has been a traditional treatment for eczema, acne, hair, everything for centuries.  At whole foods, the unit price is $500 per pint!!!  Luckily, it also lasts a very long time, because you only need the tiniest bit with each use.  Try Josie Maran Argan Oil, $48 at sephora.com.  It will last you a year, I promise, and the oil comes from a women’s cooperative in Morocco.

(If you are new to the world of natural beauty, you may be appalled by the idea of putting oil on your face, because you have been taught to buy “oil free” products since puberty.  Plant oils and petrochemical oils, however, are two very different kettles of fish.  Petroleum based oils form an impervious barrier between your skin and the air, which traps dirt, natural oil, sweat, toxins and everything else your skin needs to expel, in.  Plant oils, on the other hand, very closely mimic the composition of your own natural body oils, and allow your skin to breath.  Just a drop will do!  Trust me, it’s magical.)

5. Pick up a nail polish in a snazzy summer color to finish the experience.

It’s a gaping hole in my chemical-free lifestyle, but I just can’t give it up.  Luckily, J.crew now sells an exclusive line of colors from Essie, which, as I’ve mentioned before, formulate their polish without the really bad stuff, Toluene, Formaldehyde and DBP.  (For the full range of colors, check out essie.com)  If you are strong enough to avoid nail polish completely (good for you!) get a nail buffer to give your nails a smooth, shiny look without the nasty chemicals.

6. Finally, slip into something comfortable.  Frog and Toad in Providence has the most beautiful Indian printed bathrobes right now, but since I am completely broke and very unemployed, I go for a boxers-and-tee number.  So, are you relaxed?

4 thoughts on “The best spa in town…

  1. this is totally brilliant and inspiring. I am so proud of you for this blog! You’re amazing, miss caroline. keep at it. xoxo

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