A lazy day at the spa sounds pretty nice right about now, but with salons temporarily shutting down to slow the spread of coronavirus, those rejuvenating treatments will unfortunately have to wait a while.
The good news? Tackling DIY spa treatments — like massages, waxing and manicures — is easier than you may think. To help you create a relaxing spa environment into your home, TODAY Style consulted industry pros. They're breaking down everything you need to know to bring the spa to you while self-isolating.
1. Your spa appointment can wait
Once life gets back to normal, we'll all need an extra dose of TLC, but for now most spas have made the difficult decision to shut their doors to help flatten the curve. And if your local spa hasn't already closed, you should feel comfortable putting that massage or manicure on hold.
"Because of the intimate nature of spa treatments and both the airborne and touch factor of transmission of COVID-19, it is totally OK to cancel your upcoming appointment," Bella Schneider, CEO and founder of LaBelle Day Spas, told TODAY.
Temporary spa closures are disappointing for all involved parties — employees and clients — but also necessary during these uncertain times.
"Morally and ethically, we believe it’s the right thing to do for our associates and guests, as well as our country as a whole. Currently all of our centers are closed,” European Wax Center CEO David Berg said.
2. In a pinch, you can always do an at-home massage to relieve stress
Massages can make you feel rejuvenated in the matter of an hour, but did you know they have some amazing health benefits, too?
"Massage is important for well-being in general. It helps blood circulation, muscle relaxation, tension release and treats the skin, which is the biggest organ in our body," skin care brand Caudalie's director of Spa education Regine Berthelot told TODAY.
These relaxing treatments also help reduce stress and can be pretty comforting in this time of self-isolation. "Massage fills our needs for bonding and closeness. In a time where we feel more and more isolated, touch helps soothe our nerves and our emotions," Bella Schneider, CEO and founder of LaBelle Day Spas said.
You can still enjoy the benefits of massage from the comfort of your own home.
Follow these tips for a full-body, at-home massage:
- Prep your skin: "Starting with a warm shower or a nice bath soak will help to relax the muscles and soften the skin to prepare for a massage," Berthelot said.
- Set the scene: "Choose a comfortable setting for both the receiver and the giver, then create a relaxing ambiance with candles, aromatherapy and light music," Schneider said. Couches and beds make for great makeshift massage tables, but don't forget to cover them with a large towel to avoid oil stains.
- Talk with your partner: "Ask your partner about their preferences in terms of strength and type of massage and decide ahead of time how long you will each give each other a massage, and the parameters of the massage so both partners feel like they received a full amount as well as body parts to be covered," Schneider said. This is the time you can also ask if your partner prefers cream or oil.
- Start face down: "For a full body massage, the major focus is the back as it retains a lot of tension. Have your loved one lie face down, place a few drops of essential oil in your palm and have them inhale for an aromatherapy experience," Berthelot said.
- Get started: "Apply massage oil to the whole back and massage with the whole hands in circular movements, focusing on the lower, middle and upper back, neck and shoulder area," Berthelot said. Schneider added: "Use varied techniques, fingers, light elbows and long strokes. Give your massage a flow, almost like following a certain rhythm."
- Flip over: "Many of us are hovering over our computers, so have your loved one lie face up on the bed or couch. Place your hands under the head and stretch the neck by gently pulling, massage the scalp with the whole hand and apply pressure points with the fingertips," Berthelot said.
- Give your hands some love: "A great way to release pressure from typing on a computer all day is to apply a nourishing body cream to massage the whole hand and forearm, pull each fingers, massage the palm of the hands with circular thumb circles, massage the forearm by crossing hands, finish with a stretch of the hand bending down, up, side and other side," Berthelot said.
- Treat your feet: "Massage feet and lower legs with a nourishing body cream. Pull each toe, massage the sole of the foot with circular thumb circles and massage the lower leg by crossing hands, finishing with a stretch of the foot bending down, up, side and other side," Berthelot said.
Don't forget to practice good posture to help extend the benefits of your massage, too!
"I like to stretch in the morning while my coffee is brewing, bringing my head from side to side, reaching towards the ceiling and touching my toes. It doesn’t need to be a crazy workout, simply time to pay attention to your body and how it feels,” Stacy Stevens, technical learning consultant and licensed massage therapist for Massage Envy, said.
Regular stretching and good posture can offer relief to stressed muscles, especially the ones in your back.
"Sit up straight and use your back muscles even if you don't have to. It's important to keep the spine erect and to keep the muscles in shape. Press your shoulders down gently and pay attention to any jaw tension," Schneider said.
3. Try extending the life of your wax or use an at-home waxing kit
Do you rely on regular waxing appointments to keep your skin smooth? You can still maintain that at home until spas open up again. The key? Exfoliation!
"We recommend exfoliating twice a week to remove dead skin and dirt from our pores. The exfoliation also increases a finer hair growth and prevents ingrown hairs, which can extend the smooth waxing results," Exhale's director of spa operations, Rachael Gallo, said.
Moisturizing after each shower can also help keep skin smooth and alleviate dead skin cell building, which will help your wax last longer.
Of course, there will come a time when your hair begins to grow back quickly. When it does, you might be tempted to try an at-home waxing kit. Before trying out your waxing skills, take some time to consider the two popular wax formulas and decide which one is right for you:
- Hard wax: "I always suggest a hard wax, which is meant to be used on small parts of the body like the bikini area, armpits and facial hair (excluding eyebrows)," Bliss Spa's lead aesthetician, Beata Chyla, said. "This type of wax is very gentle and your skin will stay nice and smooth afterward, with almost no irritation if you follow the directions."
- Prewaxed strips: "Prewaxed strips are an easy way to ensure smooth results without irritation. Using this self-heat process there is no worry of burning your skin by using overheated liquid wax," Gallo said.
Once you've selected your wax of choice, get going with these at-home wax tips from the pros:
- Make sure hair is long enough: Ideally, hair should be at least ¼-inch long (about the size of a sprinkle) before waxing.
- Exfoliate ahead of time: "Exfoliate with a sugar scrub 24 hours prior to the planned waxing," Gallo said.
- Test the wax: "Try a test strip on your wrist area first. The surface should always be completely dry," Laura Ann Conroy, director of spa education and innovation at Bliss, said.
- Clean your skin: Immediately after showering is best.
- Prep the wax: Follow the instructions on the box closely to ensure you don't burn yourself on wax that's too hot.
- Get started: "Apply the wax or strip to dry, non-oily skin and follow the direction of hair growth," Gallo said. Conroy added: "Always start waxing from the outside in. Outside areas have less hair, but as you go in, hair increases and becomes thicker."
- Let it go: "Pull the strip off in the opposite direction of the hair growth," Gallo said.
- Be careful in the bikini area: "When waxing your bikini (area), use the same technique, but do not wax the same area twice because this can cause irritation. If you miss hairs, use tweezers to remove from the root," Gallo said.
- Clean up: "Baby oil is good for removing excess wax," Gallo said.
- Moisturize: "Afterward, a soothing lotion should be applied to calm and moisturize the skin," Chyla said.
- Exfoliate: Try exfoliating again three days after waxing.
Avoid shaving if you're used to waxing
If you've never done at at-home wax, it can feel a bit intimidating at first, but the experts TODAY polled recommend steering clear of razors if you're accustomed to regular waxes.
"Shaving oftentimes creates coarse hair growth. When shaving, we cut off the thinner hair leaving the thicker part of a hair follicle's shaft to emerge, giving the appearance and feel of thicker-growing hair. Try to stick to your normal wellness routine at home to maintain your normal hair growth pattern," Gallo said.
4. At-home manicures are a great distraction right now
A trip to the salon for a manicure might be out of the question right now, but you can still occupy your time at home by indulging in a little bit of nail TLC. It also provides a bit of stress relief and can be good for the soul.
"For me, seeing that distinct 'before and after' makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something, and it feels so nice taking care of yourself. Spending the time on a manicure and perfectly polishing my nails takes my mind off of things, and brings me joy for days to come afterward," celebrity manicurist Chelsea King said.
Ready to try your hand at an at-home manicure? Here's how to get started:
- For best results, shower first: "Most people don’t have a complete set of salon manicure tools at their home, so my best recommendation is to perform a manicure right after a shower or bath, so your skin is softer and easier to push back cuticles," King said.
- Trim and file first: "Trim nails to roughly your desired length and shape. Then, use a file (preferably 180 to 240 grit to avoid damage) and perfect the shape," King suggested.
- Treat your cuticles: "Go in with a cuticle pusher or orangewood stick and a cuticle remover to gently push back your cuticles. If you don’t have either of those, feel free to push them back with your fingernail, which should be easy if you just finished soaking in the shower. If you have a cuticle nipper, only trim any hangnails," King said.
- Moisturize: "Apply cuticle oil and lotion to give your hands that much needed moisture," King said. Olive oil or coconut oil will also work in a pinch.
- Prep for polish: "Before polishing, wipe your nails with polish remover to clean off any excess oil to help the polish stick better," King said. Celebrity manicurist Vanessa McCullough added: "Now is a great time to get daring with color while you are home and not be worried about who will see. Try a bright orange or pink if you usually wear dark or black colors."
Start polishing: "Apply a base coat, two coats of polish, optional nail art for fun and a top coat," King said.
- Maintain your mani: "Apply cuticle oil daily to keep your cuticles looking manicured and prevent chipping," King said.
5. Now is a great time to send some love to your beauty technicians
When your profession involves meeting with clients all day, a temporary spa closure can be pretty challenging, for multiple reasons.
"Many of us are feeling a bit bored. We don’t have the creative outlet that we had before. We don’t have the conversations that we were having everyday and miss our clients," McCullough said. "In addition, we have no income coming in, like many others, and feel very uncertain as to how we will get through this and even restart."
Now more than ever is the perfect time to get creative and show your appreciation for your beauty technician in one of the following ways:
- Prebook appointments or send a tip: "This is so thoughtful and provides reassurance to your tech that they’ll be busy again when they can go back to work. Even sending a tip in advance is such a huge help," King said.
- Reach out: "I have personally received a lot of messages from my clients asking how I am doing. That really means a lot to me. I have also been reaching out to them personally making sure they are doing well," Chyla said.
- Buy products or gift cards: "Purchasing online products and buying gift cards are all great ways to help spas right now. Also, informing spas about what they would purchase right now so the spas have creative ideas of what they can still sell even while they are not in the house. For instance, if you really want to purchase some serum, suggest that your favorite spa create serum home-care packages," Schneider said.