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Creating an At Home Spa Ritual

Baths have existed in one form or another since the beginning of time. The pre- and post-biblical Greeks, Turks, and Romans loved their spas. Today's French use the same ocean-water therapy centers as their ancestors, and 21st century Californians enjoy Calis toga mud treatments. Even if the closest you've come to a spa experience is the mask-and-makeover parties of your teen years, you know how refreshing it feels to step away from life's cares and into a world of self-directed hedonism.

But spa time is about more than luxury, it's about self-care: when you don't make time for yourself, your mood suffers, as do your well­being, your looks, and even your health. Fortunately, you don't need to travel to some fancy, faraway spa to unwind. An easier, more doable option is to bring the spa home by turning your bathroom into a pampering center.

The spa routine Choose a time when you have a few uninterrupted hours. Evening is ideal; after your spa time, you can simply crawl into bed with a book or slip into your favorite party dress for a night out. Follow these simple steps: Select soft music: New Age, classical, or jazz are ideal. If your stereo is in another room, turn its volume to a level that is audible in the bathroom, or place a portable CD player in a dry corner of the bathroom.

Do not bring homework, office work, newspapers, a radio, or any other potential irritants into your self-made spa sanctuary. In order to recharge your spirit, you must truly "get away from it all. " Position a glass of drinking water next to the tub; it's easy to feel dehydrated in a steamy bathroom.

Get a bottle of massage oil, almond oil, or sesame oil; or try an essential oil. Place facial cleanser, toner, and moisturizer within easy reach. You may choose to have a large bowl to hand, ready for facial steaming.

Get out a comfortable robe and find two or three plush towels. If your bathroom is not equipped with a clock, place a watch in an easily visible position. Secure one or more scented candles in spots where they cannot be knocked over; dim or switch off the lights. Fill the bath with warm water. Add your favorite bath oil, Epsom salts, bubble bath, or four drops of an essential oil. Avoid hot water when bathing.

Not only does it dry your skin, but overly hot water can make you feel sluggish. Lower yourself into the water, lie back, and relax. Refrain from thinking about your day, your debt, your hips, your in-laws, or anything else that makes you crazy Keep your mind clear and breathe deeply. Continue thinking of nothing and breathing deeply for up to 20 minutes; any longer than this and you risk drying out your skin. Face first Facials make skin glow by temporarily increasing blood circulation to the face.

Giving yourself an at-home version of this spa treat is easy. After washing your face, fill up a large bowl or your bathroom sink with very hot water. If you'd like, add one or two drops of essential oil to the water. If you suffer from broken capillaries, steam's heat can make these small, distended blood vessels worse; better to skip the steaming step.

Hold your head 12 to 18 inches (30 to 45 em) above the water, and then create a tent by draping a large towel over your head, neck, shoulders, and the bowl or the sink. Remain in this position for 5 to 10 minutes, being careful to keep the towel draped securely around the bowl or sink. Take away the towel and then tone your skin thoroughly.

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