Nearly Free Spa

Day spas are seriously expensive. In Australia you’re looking at a few hundred dollars each for a few hours of pampering. With huge financial outlay and dubious results, the luxury of a spa day can be pretty hard to justify.

But of course, there are always other ways. There is very little that a beauty therapist in a day spa can do that you can’t. You may not have the same equipment and finesse, but if you’re interested, it doesn’t have to stay that way.

Home spa day is a routine I have with my best friend. Every second Tuesday we spend an evening in being fabulous. It’s cheaper than going out for dinner (that’s every other Tuesday), quieter and we get to see a movie.

Here are some basic DIY spa treatments, but remember, the internet has plenty more.

Mud pack:

Mud masks are based on kaolin, which is a fine white clay. It is highly absorbent and will draw oil out of the skin, in theory it should pull out oils deep in the pores (hence advertising hype like ‘deep cleansing’, ‘draws out impurities’ and ‘fights breakouts’). Mud packs can also contain all manner of other ingredients, fruits, minerals, vitamins, honey, fragrances, fillers, preservatives and even moisturisers. Choose a fairly simple, inexpensive one, organic products can be good, simply because a kaolin mask doesn’t really need any man made substances.

If you have oily skin, mud packs are a great little luxury that could help clear and prevent breakouts. If you have dry skin, kaolin is pretty much pointless, don’t let any marketing trick you into buying it.

Oat mask:

Oats contain slippery proteins which get into the epidermis and lubricate it, making it soft and supple. Milk contains fats that are naturally emulsified and lactic acid which gently exfoliates the epidermis. That is why porridge is great for your face. It’s a great way to moisturise after cleansing or a clay mask. Just mix some oats with some milk, mash it up and put it on your face, leave it for about five minutes (longer if you want more exfoliation or have very dry skin) then wash it off with warm water.

Pore strips:

Home made pore strips are far more effective that commercial ones, but they are also much messier. They are just casein glue, which is made from equal parts of milk and gelatine powder, heated. Spread the mixture on your nose, keep the layer thin, or it will take too long to dry. Cover the whole area with tissue and wait until it hardens. Gently pull it off from the sides. You’ll find that it sticks much more tightly than a commercial pore strip.

You can use the same method as an exfoliation peel-off mask. The thicker the layer, the less it will stick.

Hair masks:

There are many different types of hair mask which give different results to different hair types.

Warm olive oil is a great one for dry or frizzy hair. It simply gets in under the cuticle, lubricates and shines. It replaces the sebum you lack if you have a dry scalp. Just warm some oil, massage it into your hair, use enough to make your whole head gooy, wrap it up for at least 30 minutes then shampoo and condition. This is great for relaxing frizz or curls and will add lots of shine. It’s not good for hair that’s recently been dyed to a bright colour as it has a tendency to tone down fake hair colour. Obviously it’s fairly pointless for oily hair!

Surprisingly enough, normal conditioner can make a good hair mask. The richer it is, the more it will weigh down, relax and smooth you hair. Again, just massage in, keep warm, wait and rinse out. There are also commercial hair masks that are just very rich versions of normal conditioners. Pick one that says it meets your needs, but don’t pay too much, you don’t need to.

Vinegar is an interesting one. It contracts the hair cuticle making it shiny, without adding oil. So it’s good for folks who want volume but also shine. A word of warning though: it makes your hair feel less soft (in the short term).

Hand and foot masks:

These are fairly cheap to buy. They are basically a plastic glove or sock containing exfoliating and moisturising ingredients. A box of disposable gloves (or some cling film for feet) and a tube of hand, nail and cuticle cream will do exactly the same thing.

Professional services:

There are services that require professional equipment and expertise. Nail extensions, hair cuts, complex hair dye jobs, etc. however, gaining expertise and buying equipment can be surprisingly easy. If you want a service that you can’t afford to maintain, look into buying what you need, watch online videos, visit a few salons and ask questions while they do their thing. The fact that you can pay hundreds for a service does not automatically mean you are incapable of doing it better yourself. Although it does mean you’ll have to invest some time and enthusiasm.



2 thoughts on “Nearly Free Spa

  1. Hurrah!
    We have dinner out every second Tuesday (pay day in non-rent week!) and I am pretty tempted to declare Couple’s Spa Evening on every other Tuesday…
    Did you test out the vinegar? I think we were talking about honey/vinegar/other foods for hair at the knitting thing last time we were down your way.


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