When the line between your office and home becomes blurry—and the news cycle gets endlessly more distressing—unwinding at the end of the day can seem impossible. It’s more vital than ever, though, to manage stress through self-care and relaxation. We turned to the experts to share easy tips and tricks to creating a spa-like setting in your own home, because we all deserve a few moments of care-free pampering.
BREATHE IN, BREATHE OUT
It may seem fairly obvious, but creating a calming atmosphere is the first step in building your at-home spa. “It is important to take into consideration the light, the music, the scent–every component that will create that unique relaxing experience,” explains Silvia Barnett, the head of marketing and PR of AIRE Ancient Baths in New York City and Chicago. “We focus on a five-sense approach. Light several candles, use bath salts of your choice, and play soft music.” Soak in a mix of epsom salt, baking soda, chamomile tea, and rosemary, which calms stressed skin. Pick a spa music station on Spotify or Apple Music, then soak undistracted for as long as you can.
WHIP UP A FACE MASK
Just the act of throwing on a mask, whether it be a sheet iteration or detoxifying clay one, will put you in spa-mode. For a DIY-version, Joanna Vargas, celebrity facialist and founder of Joanna Vargas Salons and Skin Care, recommends mixing equal parts yogurt and avocado with ¼ tbsp. of honey. “The yogurt is an anti-inflammatory with a lactic acid component, avocado has lots of B vitamins and fatty acids, so it’s essential to keep the skin hydrated in dry weather, and the honey amps up hydration,” says Vargas. For bonus points, rest cucumbers or cooled chamomile tea bags on your eyelids while the mask works its magic.
TRICK OUT YOUR TOWELS
“We start and end all of our [services] with breathing techniques while inhaling a soothing scent,” says Danielle Gamble, the lead aesthetician at the Sisley-Paris boutique in New York City. “This really increases a sense of calm and also decreases stress. Take three deep breaths in through your nose, fill your belly, and exhale through your mouth.” Gamble recommends lavender oil, which can be found at your local drugstore, or anything with rose.
SPA TIP: Wet hand towels, add a drop or two of essential oils, and throw them in the microwave for up to 30 seconds to create a “warm, steamy sensation that can make all the difference,” says Gamble.
With a few key tools like a roller or gua sha, you can give yourself a spa-worthy massage like your very own facialist. “Doing a mini lymphatic drainage massage on the pressure points around the orbital bone will feel really good and relaxing,” says Vargas. “It’s easy to do: Using gentle-yet-firm pressure, mimic a ‘J’ motion across your face, while massaging in skincare products and serums. Downward circles will de-puff while upwards ones will bring nutrients to the skin.” Opt for a jade roller for deeper drainage, suggests Gamble, rolling it from your nose out towards your temples to get rid of fluid from under your eyes.
GRAB A DRY BRUSH
Vargas often uses her Ritual Brush—a dry brush that increases blood flow, elasticity, and stimulates collagen production—on her clients for a “full body exfoliation that is great for lifting and toning a problem area.” Start at the tops of the feet and brush upwards towards the heart. “Spend extra time on areas that tend to be more stagnant like the inner thigh. Don’t forget to include behind your arms and your back,” she adds. Lastly, spend a few minutes massaging a body oil or rich body cream all over the areas you just exfoliated.
One main reason spas provide instant relaxation is because they require you to disconnect. “At AIRE we don’t allow cell phones or cameras in the space, and the light ambiance comes solely from candles,” explains Barnett. “Same with all watches so that you lose sense of time. It’s important for the mind to learn to let go. With that said, if you are taking a bath at home, leave your phone and watch in another room and relax while you soak.”
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