Do-It-Yourself Spa

Photography by: Cindy James
Do-It-Yourself Spa

Close your eyes and imagine yourself luxuriating in a milk-infused bath, your body enveloped by the silky water. As you slowly inhale, savor the comforting scent of lavender candles flickering beside you. With only a soothing body scrub and facial to cope with in the coming hour, you feel blissfully at ease....

The rejuvenating powers of a spa escape are undeniable. And the benefits go beyond the glowing skin all that sloughing, soaking, and buffing can offer. "Treating yourself to a little pampering can provide that rest stop you so desperately need, but probably aren't allowing yourself to have," says Patricia Fahie of the New Age Health Spa in Neversink, N.Y.

It's a satisfying step toward better health--so why not do it right now? With a few easy-to-follow ideas, simple recipes, and affordable products, you can create your own at-home spa indulgence. We'll give you four good ways to take a break from your hot and hectic summer, sit back, relax, and say ahhhhhh.

1. Take A Warm Bath
There's nothing better than soaking in warm water to ease sore muscles and lull an overworked mind into serenity. "Even during the summer when the temperature and humidity soar, a 20-minute aromatherapy bath in tepid water can work wonders to soothe your body and reawaken your senses," says Tara Oolie, owner of Just Calm Down Spa in New York City.

The most beneficial bath experience starts with water that registers the same temperature as your body. Anything warmer than 98.6 degrees will overheat you and actually dry out your skin, and anything cooler will be uncomfortable to sit in.

To make the most of your bath, dim the lights, fire up a candle, and switch on a relaxing CD. While the water is running, pour in a bath soak formulated with softening ingredients like milk (see page 81). "Since soaking can rob skin of precious moisture, add a product that will help lock in hydration," says Oolie.

Wet a hand towel with warm water, add two to three drops of cooling and stimulating Aveda Peppermint Oil ($12;, and roll up the towel to form a neck rest. Lean back in the tub and let the running water gently massage your feet and toes, then work a liquid soap or bath oil over your soles from heel to toe.

As you unwind, place a slice of cooling cucumber over each eye to calm the skin and reduce puffiness. "Because cucumber also contains silica, an essential component of healthy connective tissue, drinking water with sliced cucumbers can help hydrate skin," adds Oolie.

After you've relaxed for 20 minutes, step out of the tub and pat your skin dry. Next, massage in a rich shea butter body cream like Curel Natural Healing Honey, Vanilla & Shea Butter ($7.50; at drugstores) to seal in moisture.

Just Calm Down Spa's Lazy Lavender Milk Bath

1 packet powdered milk
3-4 drops lavender essential oil
1 chamomile or honey- chamomile tea bag

Add all ingredients to running bath water; allow the tea bag to steep in the bath water as you soak. Stay in the tub for at least 20 minutes.

2. Scrub Yourself
The sun, sand, and salt water of summer can leave you seriously dried out. Restore your skin to softness with a head-to-toe body scrub. "Exfoliating the skin will make it look and feel good again, and help it absorb the moisture it so desperately needs this time of year," says Silvana Frasca, spa coordinator at Beyond Day Spa at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey.