Monday, February 22, 2016


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A number of years ago, I had the pleasure of conducting over twenty on-air television interviews with national media on various aspects of at-home spa-ing.  As a recognized expert in spa, beauty and wellness, I focused on ways to create an environment conducive to relieving stress, even if a person had never been to a spa.  When it comes to at-home spa-ing, remember that this is about you, your preferences and your space.  Avoid outside influences such as other people’s opinions, which can be both annoying and stressful. Creating an at-home spa experience also needn’t be an expensive investment.  There are many products and implements available online, at traditional brick and mortar retail and drug stores, and especially at spas that offer products with price points that appeal to various economic levels. 

Over the years, I’ve written and presented extensively about the importance of taking time for oneself and offered suggestions on how to achieve this, including how to create an at-home spa environment conducive to relaxation, restoration and well-being. 

The purpose of spa-ing is to de-tress, relax, rejuvenate and regenerate, and is sensory-driven.  Sensory stimuli will in fact impact a person’s stress level.  Some of the negative stimulants include harsh lighting, excessive noise (human voice, vehicles, music, etc.), offensive aromas (toxic chemicals or artificial substances), offensive tastes, temperatures that are too hot or too cold, and anything that is disruptive to one’s normal routine, or state of “being”.  Engaging the senses, therefore, is also an integral part of the spa experience, whether the experience is at a spa facility or in an at-home spa setting. 

~ Spa At Home Guidance ~

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While some annoyances and disruptions may not be within one’s control to totally avoid or even minimize, one’s coping mechanism can in fact control the sensory annoyance or disruption.

The traditional concept of spa has always involved water; so the most logical place within one’s home to create an at-home spa environment is the bathroom. 

The overall space of a bathroom is probably limited and confined, compared to other room sizes in the average home.  Confined spaces can also create stress.  If your bathroom tends to be cluttered, try and eliminate as much clutter as possible in order to create as much of a stress-free environment as possible.

Artificial lighting, especially where no windows exist, can also create stress.  Mirrors are a great design feature to enlarge a space.  And, bringing some nature into the space will also enhance the sensory aspects.  While natural growth, like plants or flowers, adds a calming effect and keeps you in tune with it, quality artificial plants and flowers are the next best thing. 

Where harsh lighting is concerned, try to control the brightness level.  If you don’t have a dimmer switch, consider using a lower wattage bulb.  High wattage bulbs are bright and also emit heat, which in turn can elevate levels of stress; CFLs aren’t always the best route to go either, because their illumination can appear artificial. 

Consider turning the artificial lighting off and utilize soy candles, which burn more efficiently and don’t emit toxins from artificial ingredient or much heat.  Choose one that’s infused with an aroma you enjoy.  While the candle burns, the essential oils in the candle will diffuse the aroma into the air.  Eliminate any harsh odors in the bathroom and always use non-toxic cleaners that get the job done minus the harsh chemical ingredients.  Consider using a natural atomizer spray, or a diffuser.

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If your tub is deep enough for a languid and calming soak, use water softened with scented bath salts, or have some fun and take a bubble bath.  If you only have a shower, use a gentle cleansing product that is non-drying and has a pleasant aroma.  Gentle aromas help to stimulate the olfactory and induce a calming effect.

Play some soothing music while soaking in the tub or once you come out of the shower.  The music stimulates the auditory, thereby creating a sense of calm.

Indulge yourself with thick and thirsty toweling made of natural fibers that will be gentle on the skin and feel extravagant to the touch.

Leave your skin slightly damp and apply a body oil or a dense hydrating cream to seal in moisture.

Top your at-home spa experience by sitting down and savoring the moments while sipping a calming cup of hot herbal tea (tisane); avoid anything alcoholic or caffeinated. 

At this point, you should be ready to nod off and get a good night’s sleep in your comfy bed and wake up the next morning refreshed and energized.

~ Spa Spin DIY Stuff ~

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DIY Soothing Foot Soak…you’ll need an over-sized pan or bowl large enough to accommodate both of your feet and water…warm/hot water (make sure temperature is to your satisfaction and won’t burn the skin)…you’ll need: Epsom Salt, baking soda, olive oil, essential oils (while this is optional, consider one that’s also aromatherapeutic, like eucalyptus, lavender, rosemary, lemongrass, etc.), and marbles (if using shooter marbles like the kind kids use, be sure to remove the large boulder; floral marbles also work well, but the other type are less expensive)…place empty soaking vessel on toweling, then place all ingredients in the soaking vessel, then add water and mix ingredients thoroughly…check temperature of water with a few toes to make sure it’s not too hot…add enough water fill so that it’s above the ankles…place clean feet in water and soak until water begins to cool down…while soaking, regularly run the bottoms of your feet over the marbles to soothe and calm any tension…this motion will also help to stimulate the circulation…once the water begins to cool off, remove and dry feet thoroughly…slather on your favorite moisturizer and put cotton socks on to keep feet warm and to seal in the moisture…

DIY Avocado Facial…after making a bowl of delicious guacamole, don’t discard those avocado peels...if you notice, there’s quite a bit of residual fruit left on the skin after you coop out the pulp for your dip…avocado is rich with hydrating fatty acids that’s great for all skin types…cut the peel into strips and begin placing them on a clean face, using a circular motion to “smear” the residual pulp onto your skin; the peels will adhere to your skin…leave the peels on for approximately ten minutes, remove, and rinse off…your skin will feel softer because it’s been drenched with natural avocado oil…

DIY Cooling Spritz…a great hot weather tip is to chill your face toner and then spritz away…don't forget to spritz the back of your neck and décolleté…as an alternate toner, use food-grade rosewater or orange water, which are available at import or specialty food markets (or in your grocery import section)…you can also add these culinary waters to plain witch hazel, which is a gentle natural astringent…these toner choices are all cooling and refreshing during summer’s heat, and can also be used to remove perspiration from the face, or freshen the face throughout the day…remember to also drink plenty of water…keep hydrated…..inside and out…

DIY Bath Salts…tried and true Epsom Salts are a great way to re-mineralize your skin when added to bath water…the salts help to alleviate stiff and sore muscles…used as a scrub on dry and callous prone areas (e.g. bottoms of feet, toes, heel, knees, elbows, backs of thighs and upper arms), the salts will gently exfoliate…to at least one cup of salts add one-quarter cup of baking soda, and optional essential oils, and mix thoroughly…store in a glass mason jar, or an air-tight container…to use as a shower scrub, scoop some of your bath salts mixture in the palm of your hand and then add a cleanser or shower gel to palm of hand to make a paste-like consistency…apply in circular motions to affected areas… option: consider adding a gentle oil to your mix (e.g. almond, sesame, jojoba, etc.)…if added, be careful when using your mix in the shower, because the oil content will make the shower surface slippery…to avoid slippage, consider adding toweling to the bottom of your shower, or wear pool slippers that have rubberized soles...
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DIY Sugar Scrub…to at least one cup of white or brown sugar, add one-quarter cup of honey, and optional essential oils, and mix thoroughly…store in a glass mason jar, or an air-tight container…scoop out small amounts and apply to affected areas using a circular motion…option: consider adding a gentle oil to your mix (e.g. almond, sesame, jojoba, etc.)…if added, be careful when using your mix in the shower, because the oil content will make the shower surface slippery…to avoid slippage, consider adding toweling to the bottom of your shower, or wear pool slippers that have rubberized soles…

DIY Facial Exfoliator…aggressive and frequent exfoliation of the face isn’t recommended, because the delicate tissue can easily be scratched and irritated…too frequent an exfoliation will also stimulate glands, which can lead to an over-production of oil…if you feel you must exfoliate every day or at least once a week, skip the aggressive exfoliation and save for once or twice a month…instead, consider adding to your facial cleanser some cornmeal…mix together to form a past and apply in a gentle circular and upward motion, avoiding the eye area beginning with the orbital bone…for those areas that are prone to being oily (“T” zone, and nasolabial/marrionette folds)…the mixture will gently exfoliate the delicate facial skin and you’ll feel fresh and clean…if there are any breakouts on the skin before exfoliating, skip this until the breakout has healed…

Dry Brushing…invest in a good quality body brush with soft to medium-soft bristles…begin your day with a “dry brushing”, which aids in circulation, and also gently exfoliates…using an upward circular motion and upward long strokes towards the heart, begin with your feet area, and work you way up the limbs and torso…

~ Adapting the Spa Experience At Home ~

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Next time you enjoy a treatment at a spa that you truly enjoyed, be sure to check out the spa’s retail boutique before you leave, and see if some of the products used in the treatment are also available for purchase. And be sure to ask a staff member for assistance; they’ll gladly assist you with your purchase and even share with you recommendations on ways to properly use the product at home to maximize its efficacy. Most spas are more than happy to also help develop an at-home regimen for you. If the products aren’t available at the spa, check out the respective product website and consider purchasing the product online. Lastly, while most products are available for consumer use, some may not be available due to the formulation being limited for use only by your trained spa professional.

Consider taking a bit of the spa home with you, which will ensure that you’ll be reminded of that spa experience and how much you enjoyed everything about it, including the products used…each time you incorporate the product(s) in an at-home regimen. Using the products at home is one way to reactivate the sensory-driven experience, which is what spa-ing is all about.

But, before making a purchase of any product at the spa, always consider the at-home suitability before making the purchase; if there’s any hesitation or uncertainty, try and get product samples, or purchase a travel-sized kit. If you enjoyed the results post-treatment, in all likelihood, you’ll enjoy using the products at home. And, as with any product, should contraindications occur, or the performance isn’t at the level of expectation, don’t hesitate contacting the spa. Lastly, be sure to thoroughly understand how to use the products correctly in order to maximize their efficacy and adaptability to an at-home regimen. Consulting your spa professional on these matters, which includes asking questions and seeking their advice, is highly recommended. This approach may not be “science”, but the time spent looking into such matters will yield better results and no disappointments. Based on my experiences, however, this approach works every time.

~ Spa At Home Tips ~

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Focus on how different sensory experiences affect your stress levels and trigger them.

Take measures to reduce these stress triggers, or even eliminate them wherever possible; these can include artificial lighting, extraneous noise, offensive odors, etc.

Find some time for yourself when you’re not stressed, rushed or interrupted, even if that means scheduling appointment times for these set asides.

Indulge in some me-time that is yours and yours alone, while utilizing products that are functional and luxurious.
Little things can make the difference, too…something as simple as going outside for a contemplative walk, or taking a warm shower, or soak in the tub at the end of your day, can help to restore and relax.  

~ In Closing ~

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If you’ve had a spa experience, it should be memorable and to the extent that you define and compare all others to that experience. Any spa can administer a treatment, but only an exceptional spa can do so by making that experience define and exemplify what it is to spa.

Spa is an investment in one’s well being.  It isn’t hedonism, pampering, or even an indulgence.  It is and can be a necessity.  Spa traditionally and historically was about healing through restorative therapies that primarily were based on water, massage and body work; the introduction of esthetics, such as face and nails, co-opted these fundamentals.  Today, many individuals go into a spa for a treatment thinking it will cure all their ills, when in fact they haven’t approached their experience to include the understanding of what the triggers or reasons for what ails them and how that impacts their daily lives; many spas also don’t focus on these aspects, and in turn, don’t educate their clients on these aspects in addition to the treatment therapy experience.  Over time, and left unchecked, one’s health will be impacted.

Creating an at-home spa environment that is conducive to relaxation and calm, and then immersing yourself in that environment isn’t hedonistic; it’s a necessary time for recharging and reclaiming yourself, and an investment in your well being.  And while it may be about you initially, remember that it’s as an investment in your well being, it fosters a proactive approach to how you deal with other matters in your life, including the lives of others, like family, who need and love you.  Plan how you want to use some daily time for yourself and try to schedule it into your busy schedule.  Treat this time as it it’s an appointment…something you have to do. 

The at-home spa environment is definitely something you’ve earned…and, you’re definitely worth it!

That’s it for this edition.  Until the next one, remember to take care of yourself and those you love.

By Terry Herman

TERRY HERMAN is a recognized expert in the industry, and regularly covers issues that include business, management, operations, customer care, treatments, products, and trends. In the 1990s, she authored an extensive "Glossary of Spa Terminologies" and holds two copyright registrations on her authored work.  Consumer and trade publications have also interviewed her as an expert.  She also conducted an extensive nationally broadcasted interview tour on aspects of creating an at-home spa, interior design, music, stress and time management.  Her work has been published extensively in print and digital in both consumer and trade publications.  In addition to writing, reviewing and being interviewed as an expert, she is also a management consultant and motivational speaker.  She also served on the International Advisory Board for the former EXPERIENCE | PREMCHIT Journeys In Retreat To Wellness; the Advisory Board was comprised of ten international experts in various fields of wellness and spa.  She also served as a Group Manager for the popular LinkedIn group, The Spa Buzz.  In addition to her blogs, her social media outreach also includes Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.  Be sure to read her food, wine and culinary digital magazine, TERRY’S SECOND HELPINGS.  Don’t forget to “Like” her Facebook Page, “Terry’s Second Helpings”.  Please note that the “Comment Section” has been disabled.  For additional information, you can email her at


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