You're in serious need of a pampering day at the spa, but you're short on time and money. The solution? Transform your own bathroom into a sanctuary. At the Lake Austin Spa Resort, I teach classes on how to turn common kitchen and garden ingredients into luxurious skin scrubs, bath salts and more.
The key is using herbs and flowers. Certain aromas have a powerful effect on the nervous system, leaving you feeling relaxed or energized. I recommend using the following ingredients for their scents:
- Lavender: This soothing, antimicrobial herb has been shown to help you relax and get a good night's sleep. Wesleyan University conducted a 31-person study and found that when people sniffed lavender before bedtime, they got more slow-wave (or deep) sleep and reported feeling more energetic in the morning.
- Eucalyptus: Developing research suggests this woodsy scent may help break up mucus and stop coughs, according to the National Institutes of Health. And a study published in the journal Respiratory Medicine shows that eucalyptol, the active ingredient, has anti-inflammatory properties.
- Mint: Perfect for hot days, spearmint and peppermint are cooling and refreshing. And a recent study published in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy also found that applying menthol to the skin increases blood flow.
- Ginger: When grated and added to a bath, the spicy root provides an invigorating sensory energy boost. It can be mixed with coconut oil for a mildly exfoliating scrub.
- Rosemary: This herb has a refreshing, stimulating effect.
- Rose Petals: Pluck them from your own garden to add a sweet fragrance to any bath or body treatment.
Once you've chosen your herbs, mix them up with one of the following recipes. With a few household ingredients, you can go from stressed and tired to relaxed and glowing:
Basic Bath Infusion
- 4 cups fresh herbs (or 2 cups dried)
- 4 cups water
Boil water in a large pot; add herbs. Stir, cover and remove from heat. Steep for 10 minutes, strain and pour into a hot bath.
Soothing Bath Bag
- 1/4 cup powdered milk
- 1/4 cup Epsom salt
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup dried herbs
- 10 drops of essential oil
Stir together all ingredients and place in a muslin bag (or several layers of cheesecloth); secure with a rubber band. Add to hot bath and steep for several minutes. Open the bag and use the softened herbs as an exfoliating body scrub. You can also seal unused bags in a glass jar for several months.
Energizing Coffee Body Scrub
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 4-inch sprig of fresh rosemary
- 1/4 cup coffee beans, finely ground
- 2 tablespoons bentonite clay (found in health food stores)
- 3 tablespoons oil, such as olive, grapeseed, coconut or avocado
- 3 drops each of rosemary oil and grapefruit or peppermint oil
Combine sugar and rosemary in a spice grinder and process until finely ground. Pour into a medium-sized bowl and mix with the remaining ingredients. Use the scrub on skin; shower off. Moisturize with additional body oil.
Skin-Softening Bath Blend
- 1/4 cup rolled or instant oatmeal
- 1/4 cup milk powder
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup herbs of choice
- 10 to 15 drops of essential oil
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 teaspoons body oil
In a food processor, combine oatmeal, milk powder, sugar and herbs until coarsely ground. Pour in bowl and combine with essential oil, honey and body oil. Place in muslin bag and steep in a hot bath for a few minutes. Use cold tea bags (green tea or chamomile) over your eyes as you enjoy your bath.
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