With social commitments low and anxieties high, now would be the perfect time to check in to a luxury spa and enjoy some self-care – if only we could. However, harnessing creativity in crisis means it’s more than possible to recreate an inspiring spa experience at home. Granted, it can never be the same without certain facilities and therapists on hand, but you can achieve something more sophisticated than simply reclining in the bath with cucumber slices over your eyes.
How? We asked authority Sara Young, the spa manager at The Spa at South Lodge (and previously at Chewton Glen and St Michaels Resort) and managing director of Aesthetics Collective, to share her insider advice. From setting the scene, to creating different spa ‘zones’ with the best professional-grade gadgets, here Young imparts her ultimate home spa suggestions:
Creating a home spa: the basics
“I think it’s important to create your home spa in a place that is comfortable, relaxing and calm; this is very individual and for one person it could be their bedroom, for another it might be under a tree in the garden. Comfort and warmth are top priorities for true relaxation, so wherever your chosen space is make sure you have lots of comfy cushions and blankets available to build yourself a ‘nest’.
“Scent is a key to spa environment – for a lot of us it can help trigger memories of relaxation. Perhaps you have a bottle of your favourite massage oil or a candle from your last spa visit. At the moment I’m in love with the Tranquility range from Comfort Zone; a few dabs of their perfume on my wrist pressure points instantly gets me into the spa mood by reminding me of my last treatment with them. If you want to bring the outdoors-in (especially if you can’t relax outside, or don’t have a garden), invest in the Aromatherapy Associates Forest Therapy collection, which is inspired by the Japanese art of ‘forest bathing’.
“Lighting is also important, and again individual. For me there is nothing more relaxing and rejuvenating than sunshine on my skin, but for others total darkness aids a sense of calm. My favourite eye masks for blocking the outside world are Spacemasks. They self-heat which feels fabulous, plus the jasmine scent really helps you relax.
“Music, too, is important. All the therapists I work with use Spotify to access themed music such as ‘music to massage’ or ‘music for meditation’, but you might want to look for nature melodies, too. Try apps such as Nature Sound and Calm to create your own ‘soundscape’, be it a forest ambience, peaceful stream or evening crickets.
“For switching off in general, there are lots of great apps out there. If you’re looking to incorporate a doze then Pzizz has a nap feature where you can set different lengths without relying on alarms. For meditation and calm then I’m all for Headspace, and for something more spiritual then I highly recommend listening to Deepka Chopra‘s fantastic live meditations.”
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As the sun begins to set from the sky, shedding the very last of its golden glow, a warm breeze lightly rushes through a field of dry grasses and flowering clover. In this meadow at dusk, the world begins to calm and settle in for sleep. The reassuring solidity of the earth, and the musky, sweet, smells of the fields provide the spiritual space for introspective meditation and calm. Breezes and gravity are welcome, gentle forces on the resting body. Composed with recordings from grassy meadows, wind-chimes (sampled into a keyboard), synthesizers, saxophone, mandolin, and guitar bowed with a violin bow, this piece will provide a contemplative and calming sonic accompaniment to physical and spiritual rest.
Consider creating different spa ‘zones’
“While you may not have a pool, you can still have different spa ‘zones’ within our house (and garden).
“A fun way to start is with a mud room experience in the bathroom. For this type of experience at The Spa at South Lodge we use the Gold Sugar Scrub, Ultramoor Mud Mask and Body Cream from the Hungarian range Omorovicza. To begin, if you’ve got a steam function on your shower then turn this on (or alternatively pop your shower on a high heat to fill your bathroom to make a mini steam room), then scrub your body to remove all the dead skin cells (which is perfect for pre-summer tan prep) and then let the steam open your pores ready for the mud, before showering the scrub off. Apply the mud and let it work to detox the skin, taking time for the mud to start drying as this is when it will draw out impurities. Finally, wash the mud off before applying the body cream for super-hydrated and soft skin. Of course, this can be done alone or with your partner.
“Make the bedroom your treatment room for pampering like massages and facials. Light some candles – Neom have some great ones, I’m currently enjoying Scent to Make You Happy – which can enhance the ambience alongside your preferred music and lighting. For massage oils look to ESPA, a classic British brand with a fantastic range of massage and bath oils so that you can theme your spa day. Personally, I enjoy doing all this with my other half as we can apply each other’s products. Plus, people report that partners are more likely to want to come along on a ‘real’ spa day after they’ve enjoyed a home spa together.
“Finally, for a relaxation zone I like to cocoon myself away in the lounge, or a warm spot in the garden. This is when I use a home foot spa, put on some guided meditation and finish in relaxation. A glass of something or two can go down a treat then, too.”
The safest at-home spa treatments and therapies
“At the easiest end of the scale, if you have a bath and are looking for something different to bubbles or epsom salts, then I can highly recommend trying out a seaweed bath using Irish brand Voya’s Lazy Days seaweed bag. Seaweed is known to have many benefits including detoxifying and re-mineralising the body, soothing aches and pains, improving circulation, and healing skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis – and the great thing is that you can compost the seaweed afterwards.
“A lot of spas have recently opened up hair salons, as we often forget that our hair needs some TLC as much as our skin, so a regular hair treatment session can be really helpful. I start with the SOLU from Davines which is a salt scrub cleanser designed to clear congested hair follicles, helping to encourage new hair growth. (I’m also very big on sustainability when selecting products and Davines is a leading hair care brand for sustainability based in Parma, Italy.) I then follow with a scalp mask from the brand’s The Circle Chronicles, and depending on my hair’s current needs I might select a different mask each time. This is the time to give yourself a good scalp massage (or ask someone else to if they’re close to hand); there is nothing more relaxing or centring to me than a scalp massage including some facial pressure points, and it also helps to stimulate hair growth. Finally I wrap my hair up in a towel so it’s warm while the mask works its magic. When rinsing, I finish by running a product such as the Liquid Spell to give hair strength and vitality.
“At-home pedicures are also fun and surprisingly relaxing, and now is the perfect time with sandal season approaching. Start by removing old polish, then trimming and filing the nails, taking care to clean under the nails. My top tip is to then start the pedicure experience by filing the feet whilst dry (not wet) and invest in a good quality foot file, such as the Margaret Dabbs Professional Foot File; filing is not only great for your feet but is also a great workout for your arms. Follow this with a good warm water foot soak of the feet with a luxury scrub such as Zenspa Microdermabrasion Foot Scrub to help exfoliate your feet further for a silky soft finish. If you’ve got a home foot spa then now’s the time to sit back and relax. Once your feet have soaked it’s time to push back the cuticles and use nippers where appropriate – always taking care to ‘nip’ rather than ‘tug’ at your cuticles. Investing time in cuticle care (whether it’s your fingers or toes) is important, and always gives you a better starting point for the application of the polish – the final step. My go-to brand for colours is Jessica Nails, with the Phenom range an excellent option for those like me that normally like to have gel nails and need a polish that is long-lasting.
“When it comes to facials, I like to stick to using one brand of products, that are designed to work synergistically in sequence. Omorovicza has a great ‘wellness collection’ that has everything you need for an at-home facial. Or use the opportunity to follow a tutorial from a professional who can guide you step-by-step to ensure therapeutic results at home.” Watch skincare expert Sarah Chapman talk you through her at-home facial below:
The home spa gadgets worth investing in
“At a time like this when we’re indoors more than we’d perhaps like to be, our skin can start to feel congested, so I love to use the Foreo Luna 3 as part of a good daily cleansing routine. This device helps your cleanser to work deeper, remove more dirt and refine your pores. With 16 different intensities it’s great for even the most sensitive of skins.
“A lot of professional facials use lifting and toning techniques to help with anti-ageing, and a good investment for home use is the NuFace Trinity. It’s FDA-approved and with scientific results to back up claims that it lifts, tones and smooths the skin. Plus, you can really feel it working.
“I’m also a fan of combining treatments to be ‘spa-efficient’, and I quite often listen to some meditation while wearing an LED mask – my go-to being the Dessee Pro. I find that the blue light therapy has really helped to clear up my skin thanks to its antibacterial qualities, while the red light boosts collagen production. A lot of spas have added LED therapy to their treatment lists, as we can all see such great benefit from these treatments.
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“Another way to do this is by using the Neom Wellbeing Pod while pampering. The essential oil diffuser works electronically to scent your room and humidify the air, using 100 per cent natural oils in the brand’s signature scents.”
“When it comes to pedicures, the best way to make yours spa-worthy, as opposed to a standard file-and-paint, is to invest in a foot spa that incorporates massage. The Beurer FB50 is the ultimate in foot massager. Combine this with high-end pedicure products such as the Fabulous Feet Discovery Kit and Professional Foot File from the foot queen herself, Margaret Dabbs, and you will elevate the experience – and the results – no end.”
From: Harper’s BAZAAR UK