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Some people are able to better relax at home than at a commercial spa.
By
TODAY contributor
updated 4/20/2009 1:41:42 PM ET 2009-04-20T17:41:42

This Mother’s Day, you can go the expected route and give the mama(s) in your life a generic gift certificate to a spa, or you can take a unique approach and teach her how to create a spa experience in her own home.

Think of it this way: A spa massage or facial, while decadent and relaxing, is also an expensive, fleeting experience that relegates pampering and much-needed self-indulgence to one — two if you’re lucky — day a year.

I’m only three months in, but I can already see that being a mother is as demanding as it is joyful, truly the job that never ends. Make Mother’s Day  a day to remember this year by opting out of the present that is finite — that starts and ends — choosing instead to give her the gift that keeps on giving: spa know-how and the tools to turn the average bathroom into a restorative oasis.

Traci Reazer, a holistic aesthetician at Whole Foods in Austin, Texas, gave me the lowdown on at-home spa-ing and shared one of her favorite recipes for a do-it-yourself beauty treatment — a luscious, stimulating scrub made with ingredients that already live in your kitchen cabinet.

Q: What is an at-home spa? Can anybody do this at home? Do you need special equipment or a fancy bathroom?

A: The at-home spa [happens] when you take the time to relax the whole body from head to toe. You can make it visual with candles, use sound by playing soft music, use scent with candles and aromatherapy oils, and [activate] taste with teas like chamomile, which is calming and comforting. There are also bath pillows, loofahs, body scrubbers, natural soaps and sugar and salt scrubs.

I lived in an apartment that didn’t have a tub and it didn’t stop me from creating a spa experience. I would light candles and use exfoliating salt and sugar scrubs. You can also create your own facial. You can use cleansers, toners and treatment masks. And you don’t need to be in a certain space. You can transport yourself by relaxing on your sofa or bed.

Q: What are the benefits of creating a mini-spa at home?

A: Life is pretty busy and it can be very stressful. The at-home spa experience allows you to relax at any time and is very inexpensive [note: At-home spa-ing is recession friendly!]. And sometimes people relax more at home. You can change the ambiance to create a new experience in a space you’re already familiar with.

To make your own spa, you can buy separate products or look for home spa kits by companies like EO. For $19.99, EO’s kit includes massage oil, exfoliating gloves, a soy candle, shower gel and bath salts. That’s a lot. And each product is lavender-scented, which is calming. You can also share the at-home spa experience with someone else. Make it a mother-daughter day by helping each other apply facial masks or make it romantic by taking a bubble bath with your partner.

Q: You can take a home-spa experience all the way by making your own beauty treatments. What is one of your favorite recipes?

I love the coffee-and-coconut sugar scrub. It’s easy to make and inexpensive. Just combine these ingredients:

Coffee-and-coconut sugar scrub

  • 2 cups organic cane sugar
  • 1 cup Colombian coffee (I use finely ground light roast)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened organic coconut flakes
  • 2 cups organic sweet almond oil (you can play with the amount of oil — use a little more for an oily scrub and a little less for a drier scrub)

Wholefoods.com also has some great recipes for DIY scrubs and cleansers. I hope to make these two with my mom this Sunday:

Peppermint-salt scrub

  • 2 cups salt
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup sweet almond oil
  • 1/2 cup jojoba oil
  • 10 drops peppermint essential oil
  • 10 drops orange essential oil

Mix dry ingredients together and blend well. Add oil(s) to the mixture. Blend thoroughly and store in a tightly sealed plastic bag or storage container. Store in the refrigerator and use within four to six weeks.

To apply, stand in the shower or tub. Using a handful of the scrub, gently rub skin in a circular motion. Start with feet and work toward the heart. Do not use on face or delicate areas. Be careful, since the oils can make your shower or tub slippery. If shaving your legs, do so after you exfoliate as the oils will help to lubricate your skin.

Face cleanser for dry skin

  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 mashed banana or avocado
  • 1/4 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

Combine all ingredients well. Scoop out approximately 1/4 cup and apply all over face with a soft, circular motion. Rub into skin for at least one minute. Rinse well with cool (not cold) water. Gently pat dry with a soft cloth. Store unused cleanser in the refrigerator for up to seven days.

Marisa Belger is a writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience covering health and wellness. She was a founding editor of Lime.com, a multiplatform media company specializing in health, wellness and sustainable living. Marisa also collaborated with Josh Dorfman on “The Lazy Environmentalist” (Stewart, Tabori, and Chang), a comprehensive guide to easy, stylish green living.

Please note: Neither Marisa Belger nor TODAYshow.com has been compensated by the manufacturers or their representatives for her comments or selection of products reviewed in this column.

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