HOME IS WHERE THE SPA IS

November 22, 2020 Lucy Holloway

We all have bad days, and 2020 has had its fair share so far. With this in mind, it’s more important than ever that we take care of our physical and mental wellbeing. 

Spas are great for stress-busting if you can get to one. If not, try to think of a spa as a state of mind, rather than a destination, and set aside some time aside to recharge, wherever you are. Ship in your favorite products, or whip up some pampering treats in the comfort of your own home. Homemade skincare is unlikely to transform the way you look, but it can soften your skin, offer short-term tightening and change the way you feel.

With Thanksgiving around the corner, and Christmas in view, nobody wants to spend more time than necessary in the kitchen. The DIY skincare recipes we suggest here, can all be rustled up in 5 minutes or less, with fridge and cupboard ingredients. We want you to focus on relaxation, not catering.

The best at home spaSet the scene
You are backstage, front of house, actor and audience (unless the kids creep in). Everything from fluffy towels and candles, through to the playlist, is down to you, so take time to create the mood for maximum unwind.

Make sure you have plenty of fluids to hand—not just wine! A big jug of iced water with cucumber and lemon is suitably spa-ish; or try the antioxidant-rich long-life elixir of unsweetened cranberry juice that Kat recommends in her ultimate beauty and body detox.

Clear thinking
Milk’s association with cleansing runs deep—Cleopatra was rumored to bathe in asses’ milk, and milk is still a common texture descriptor for modern-day cleansers.

The full-fat dairy kind is high in lactic acid, a natural alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) used in topical skincare to encourage skin exfoliation. Some swear by milk alone as a cleanser, and milk derivatives—cream, buttermilk and yogurt—form the basis of many homemade skin-softening recipes. The science is sketchy, but if it appeals, why not give it a try? The caveat being that dairy-based products are best avoided if you’re allergic, or suffer from acne.

Skin is mildly acidic, and so is honey. When applied directly, honey supports skin’s natural pH. Raw (unsterilized) honey has powerful antibacterial properties, hence why it’s used to promote wound healing. It also attracts water and helps skin to retain it. Neat honey, or honey diluted with a bit of warm water, can be used as a cleanser, or it can be combined with other ingredients.

My favorite DIY cleanser for dry skin is Greek yogurt, honey and chamomile (scroll down for a simple recipe).

Full steam ahead
Steaming benefits both skin and spirit. It opens pores to clear, soften and hydrate, and acts as a boost for circulation.

Pour boiling water into a heatproof bowl, along with 15 drops or so of essential oil. I find the old classic, that is lavender, the most relaxing, but try frankincense and ylang ylang too. Eucalyptus is my go-to for something more invigorating, and peppermint and thyme are great for clearing my head. If you’ve got a bit more time and the inclination, try the herb-infused facial steam (details below).

Once you’re ready to go, put your face about 10 inches above the bowl, use a large towel to create a steam tent, and stay like that for up to 10 minutes. Steer clear if you suffer from rosacea, redness or skin sensitivity.

Soak away stress
Spa rituals are synonymous with bathing. Spending too long in water that’s too hot, can dry out skin, but if you’re sensible with time and temperature, the relaxation benefits are huge.

Herbal and floral infusions take tub time to the next level. Grab huge handfuls of your favorite fresh herbs, tie them together and suspend them under the taps, or make simple herb or flower tea bags using fresh or dried herbs/flowers. If you prefer to use essential oils, I tend to mix 30-40 drops with about 2 tbsp of milk (of any kind) before adding, as it helps the oil to mix with the water.

Other popular bath additives include milk (dairy, but also coconut and almond), finely ground oats (which contain saponin to cleanse, healthy fats to moisturize and anti-inflammatory properties) and seaweed (moisturizing and slippery).

You can add the water from your facial steam to your tub, but sieve out any herby/floral bits first. You don’t want to end your spa ritual unblocking drains.

Power PacksPower packs
Pumpkins. Let’s face it. You’re going to have a few of those around this time of year! They’re naturally rich in Vitamins A and C, fatty acids, enzymes and AHAs, so can help soothe, soften and freshen-up your skin. Try a pumpkin and honey face mask.

Your mask menu might also feature:
- Avocado—rich in vitamin A (associated with anti-aging) and E (skin repair): for all skin types
- Egg white—packed with protein to help bind in water: for all skin types
- Carrot and tomato—Vitamin A from the carrots, fruit acids from the tomato: for oilier skin
- Oat and banana—moisturizing and soothing: for older, sensitive skin

Clay-based masks are easy to make at home, but as only the keenest potters among us are likely to have powdered clay to hand, recipes for those will have to wait for another post.

If you want to put your best face forward, Kat’s Vital Hydration Blast is one of my desert island masks.

Eyes on the prize
Cooling cucumber is a popular choice—pop a couple of freshly cut slices over your eyes while you relax into your mask. If I’m making the yogurt, honey and chamomile cleanser with tea bags, I put the tea bags in the freezer to cool, and then use them as eye compresses.

Good to go
If your face needs extra moisturization once your mask is rinsed off, end your spa with a face oil. Keep things easy with a couple of drops of essential oil added to a tablespoon of carrier oil—olive, jojoba, coconut—whichever you prefer/have to hand. You can read about the benefits of some of the different oils here.

Time on your side
Hopefully, you’re now feeling suitably nourished and refreshed: ready to face work and family life, or ready to sink into the sheets for some of the best possible relaxation there is—sleep.

None of these foodie face treats will put up a fight against the visible signs of skin aging like a good retinol product, or tackle cell hydration like a well-formulated hyaluronic acid, but relaxation is a result in its own right. And one for which we should give thanks.

The recipes
The ingredients below are plenty for one application. All these products are best used soon after you make them, though the cleanser will store for a couple of days in the fridge.

Greek Yogurt Face MaskGreek yogurt, honey and chamomile cleanser
Substitute the yogurt with single or double cream if you prefer.

Add 2 fl oz of boiling water to a cup containing 1 tbsp of dried chamomile flowers (or a couple of chamomile tea bags). Cover and leave to cool down a bit. While still warm, add 1 tsp of honey (raw) and stir to dissolve. When cool, strain off the flowers/remove the tea bags (you can keep them for eye compresses) and pour the infusion into a sterilized container with a lid. Add 2 tbsp of yogurt and, if you have it, a couple of drops of chamomile essential oil (no worries if not). Shake to fully combine and then apply to your skin with a cotton wool pad.

Herbal brews for facial steaming
Put a few handfuls of fresh herbs and flowers (or approx. 2 tbsp of dried) in a pan and add 8 cups of water. Bring to the boil. Turn off the heat, put on a lid and let it steep for 10 minutes. Bring back to the boil and transfer the water and herbs to a heatproof bowl. Follow the facial steaming instructions above.

Lavender and chamomile flowers and rose petals calm things down. Rosemary, thyme and sage speed things up.

Herb or flower tea bags
Cut a generous square of muslin and cover it with the herbs of your choice (see facial steaming recipe above for suggestions). You can also add:
- Lemon or orange zest and grated ginger for extra zing, and to help with aches and pains
- Finely ground oats, sea salts or powdered milk for skin-softening

Gather the edges of muslin together and tie with string or ribbon to create a parcel. Place under the hot tap of your tub, as you run the water.

Face MasksFace masks
All face masks should be applied to your face and neck, avoiding the eye area, and washed off with warm water after 15-20 minutes.

Pumpkin and honey face mask
Liquidize a quarter of a small pumpkin to make puree. If you need to loosen the puree, to help it whisk around the liquidizer, add 1 tbsp of cider vinegar. Once you’re happy with the consistency, transfer the puree to a small bowl and mix in 1 tsp of raw honey.

Avocado face mask
Eat half, mash up the other half. If it’s a bit thick, you can add some oil (any oil, but avocado makes sense) to create a smoother texture.

Egg white face mask
Whisk up 1 egg white.

Carrot and tomato face mask
Peel and liquidize 1 small carrot. Pour off (and drink) the juice and retain the pulp. Add 1 small tomato to the pulp and liquidize to combine.

Oat and banana face mask
Blend 1 small banana with 2 tbsp finely ground oats. Loosen the consistency with a teaspoon of your favorite oil, if needed.  



We all have bad days, and 2020 has had its fair share so far. With this in mind, it’s more important than ever that we take care of our physical and mental wellbeing. 

Spas are great for stress-busting if you can get to one. If not, try to think of a spa as a state of mind, rather than a destination, and set aside some time aside to recharge, wherever you are. Ship in your favorite products, or whip up some pampering treats in the comfort of your own home. Homemade skincare is unlikely to transform the way you look, but it can soften your skin, offer short-term tightening and change the way you feel.

With Thanksgiving around the corner, and Christmas in view, nobody wants to spend more time than necessary in the kitchen. The DIY skincare recipes we suggest here, can all be rustled up in 5 minutes or less, with fridge and cupboard ingredients. We want you to focus on relaxation, not catering.

The best at home spaSet the scene
You are backstage, front of house, actor and audience (unless the kids creep in). Everything from fluffy towels and candles, through to the playlist, is down to you, so take time to create the mood for maximum unwind.

Make sure you have plenty of fluids to hand—not just wine! A big jug of iced water with cucumber and lemon is suitably spa-ish; or try the antioxidant-rich long-life elixir of unsweetened cranberry juice that Kat recommends in her ultimate beauty and body detox.

Clear thinking
Milk’s association with cleansing runs deep—Cleopatra was rumored to bathe in asses’ milk, and milk is still a common texture descriptor for modern-day cleansers.

The full-fat dairy kind is high in lactic acid, a natural alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) used in topical skincare to encourage skin exfoliation. Some swear by milk alone as a cleanser, and milk derivatives—cream, buttermilk and yogurt—form the basis of many homemade skin-softening recipes. The science is sketchy, but if it appeals, why not give it a try? The caveat being that dairy-based products are best avoided if you’re allergic, or suffer from acne.

Skin is mildly acidic, and so is honey. When applied directly, honey supports skin’s natural pH. Raw (unsterilized) honey has powerful antibacterial properties, hence why it’s used to promote wound healing. It also attracts water and helps skin to retain it. Neat honey, or honey diluted with a bit of warm water, can be used as a cleanser, or it can be combined with other ingredients.

My favorite DIY cleanser for dry skin is Greek yogurt, honey and chamomile (scroll down for a simple recipe).

Full steam ahead
Steaming benefits both skin and spirit. It opens pores to clear, soften and hydrate, and acts as a boost for circulation.

Pour boiling water into a heatproof bowl, along with 15 drops or so of essential oil. I find the old classic, that is lavender, the most relaxing, but try frankincense and ylang ylang too. Eucalyptus is my go-to for something more invigorating, and peppermint and thyme are great for clearing my head. If you’ve got a bit more time and the inclination, try the herb-infused facial steam (details below).

Once you’re ready to go, put your face about 10 inches above the bowl, use a large towel to create a steam tent, and stay like that for up to 10 minutes. Steer clear if you suffer from rosacea, redness or skin sensitivity.

Soak away stress
Spa rituals are synonymous with bathing. Spending too long in water that’s too hot, can dry out skin, but if you’re sensible with time and temperature, the relaxation benefits are huge.

Herbal and floral infusions take tub time to the next level. Grab huge handfuls of your favorite fresh herbs, tie them together and suspend them under the taps, or make simple herb or flower tea bags using fresh or dried herbs/flowers. If you prefer to use essential oils, I tend to mix 30-40 drops with about 2 tbsp of milk (of any kind) before adding, as it helps the oil to mix with the water.

Other popular bath additives include milk (dairy, but also coconut and almond), finely ground oats (which contain saponin to cleanse, healthy fats to moisturize and anti-inflammatory properties) and seaweed (moisturizing and slippery).

You can add the water from your facial steam to your tub, but sieve out any herby/floral bits first. You don’t want to end your spa ritual unblocking drains.

Power Packs

Power packs
Pumpkins. Let’s face it. You’re going to have a few of those around this time of year! They’re naturally rich in Vitamins A and C, fatty acids, enzymes and AHAs, so can help soothe, soften and freshen-up your skin. Try a pumpkin and honey face mask.

Your mask menu might also feature:
- Avocado—rich in vitamin A (associated with anti-aging) and E (skin repair): for all skin types
- Egg white—packed with protein to help bind in water: for all skin types
- Carrot and tomato—Vitamin A from the carrots, fruit acids from the tomato: for oilier skin
- Oat and banana—moisturizing and soothing: for older, sensitive skin

Clay-based masks are easy to make at home, but as only the keenest potters among us are likely to have powdered clay to hand, recipes for those will have to wait for another post.

If you want to put your best face forward, Kat’s Vital Hydration Blast is one of my desert island masks.

Eyes on the prize
Cooling cucumber is a popular choice—pop a couple of freshly cut slices over your eyes while you relax into your mask. If I’m making the yogurt, honey and chamomile cleanser with tea bags, I put the tea bags in the freezer to cool, and then use them as eye compresses.

Good to go
If your face needs extra moisturization once your mask is rinsed off, end your spa with a face oil. Keep things easy with a couple of drops of essential oil added to a tablespoon of carrier oil—olive, jojoba, coconut—whichever you prefer/have to hand. You can read about the benefits of some of the different oils here.

Time on your side
Hopefully, you’re now feeling suitably nourished and refreshed: ready to face work and family life, or ready to sink into the sheets for some of the best possible relaxation there is—sleep.

None of these foodie face treats will put up a fight against the visible signs of skin aging like a good retinol product, or tackle cell hydration like a well-formulated hyaluronic acid, but relaxation is a result in its own right. And one for which we should give thanks.

The recipes
The ingredients below are plenty for one application. All these products are best used soon after you make them, though the cleanser will store for a couple of days in the fridge.

Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt, honey and chamomile cleanser
Substitute the yogurt with single or double cream if you prefer.

Add 2 fl oz of boiling water to a cup containing 1 tbsp of dried chamomile flowers (or a couple of chamomile tea bags). Cover and leave to cool down a bit. While still warm, add 1 tsp of honey (raw) and stir to dissolve. When cool, strain off the flowers/remove the tea bags (you can keep them for eye compresses) and pour the infusion into a sterilized container with a lid. Add 2 tbsp of yogurt and, if you have it, a couple of drops of chamomile essential oil (no worries if not). Shake to fully combine and then apply to your skin with a cotton wool pad.

Herbal brews for facial steaming
Put a few handfuls of fresh herbs and flowers (or approx. 2 tbsp of dried) in a pan and add 8 cups of water. Bring to the boil. Turn off the heat, put on a lid and let it steep for 10 minutes. Bring back to the boil and transfer the water and herbs to a heatproof bowl. Follow the facial steaming instructions above.

Lavender and chamomile flowers and rose petals calm things down. Rosemary, thyme and sage speed things up.

Herb or flower tea bags
Cut a generous square of muslin and cover it with the herbs of your choice (see facial steaming recipe above for suggestions). You can also add:
- Lemon or orange zest and grated ginger for extra zing, and to help with aches and pains
- Finely ground oats, sea salts or powdered milk for skin-softening

Gather the edges of muslin together and tie with string or ribbon to create a parcel. Place under the hot tap of your tub, as you run the water.

Face Masks

Face masks
All face masks should be applied to your face and neck, avoiding the eye area, and washed off with warm water after 15-20 minutes.

Pumpkin and honey face mask
Liquidize a quarter of a small pumpkin to make puree. If you need to loosen the puree, to help it whisk around the liquidizer, add 1 tbsp of cider vinegar. Once you’re happy with the consistency, transfer the puree to a small bowl and mix in 1 tsp of raw honey.

Avocado face mask
Eat half, mash up the other half. If it’s a bit thick, you can add some oil (any oil, but avocado makes sense) to create a smoother texture.

Egg white face mask
Whisk up 1 egg white.

Carrot and tomato face mask
Peel and liquidize 1 small carrot. Pour off (and drink) the juice and retain the pulp. Add 1 small tomato to the pulp and liquidize to combine.

Oat and banana face mask
Blend 1 small banana with 2 tbsp finely ground oats. Loosen the consistency with a teaspoon of your favorite oil, if needed.  



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