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Create the Spa Experience at Home!

In today's stress-filled world, a visit to a spa can provide much-needed rejuvenation for body and soul. While there is no substitute for being pampered by someone else's hands, you need not spend a small fortune to experience the benefits of a day or two at the spa. In fact, you can create a near-professional spa experience in your own home. All you need is the desire and bit of equipment.

Your Equipment Checklist

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Your first step is to assemble a list of locally available products that will replicate those used in the finest spas. And don't forget to pamper yourself with classic, elegant spa garb — a luxuriously thick white terrycloth robe.

A home spa experience should include products and tools to revitalize the body, face and hair. Here is a short checklist:

  1. Long handled natural bristle bath brush
  2. Loofah or Terry cloth washcloth (Avoid synthetic scrubbers as they are overly harsh)
  3. Bath salts
  4. A selection of essential aromatic oils
  5. Anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory cleansers, toners and moisturizers (more on this later)
  6. Coarse sea salt
  7. Plenty of chilled spring water (with a splash of lime or lemon) to keep your body hydrated and to eliminate toxins from the inside out.

The Role of Essential Oils

Essential oils, made from the petals of flowers, are extremely beneficial for the skin. In addition to being pleasantly scented, these oils regulate the activity of the capillaries and restore vitality to the tissues. In addition, floral oils rejuvenate the skin, eliminate waste matter and facilitate the regeneration of new, healthy cells.

Never apply essential oils directly to the face or skin. Add about six drops to a bowl of warm water. Soak a cotton cloth in the water and then apply to face and neck as a compress for five minutes. Repeat three times. Gently towel dry the face and neck and apply an anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory facial splash and activator.

Select essential oils to suit your mood and purpose. If, for example, you want to unwind after a busy day, select soothing oils. If you want to revitalize and energize, choose stimulating oils.

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Oils that balance and soothe include lavender, chamomile, niaouli and ylang-ylang. Essential oils to revitalize, stimulate and invigorate include peppermint, eucalyptus, rosemary, basil and juniper. (Most commercially sold essential oils are diluted with a carrier oil like sweet almond oil for topical application.)

Body Scrubs and Basic Cleansing

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Step one is to gently dry brush the skin to increase circulation and stimulate the lymphatic system to eliminate toxins and excess water. Brush with two or three drops of a stimulating essential oil; brush lightly but cover your whole body. This is effective either before or after your morning shower.

Drops of an essential oil may be added to bath salts and used either in the bath — 5 to 12 drops — or after a shower as a gentle exfoliating scrub. Slough off the dead skin cells with wide circular strokes. Remember that you are not sand papering a piece of furniture! Gentle is the key word here. If too vigorous, the action will cause inflammation, which accelerates the aging process and counteracts the benefits of the home spa. Done correctly, you will uncover a glowing, healthy complexion from head to toe.

Another type of body scrub popular in European and Asian spas is the "gommage," or salt glow. Mix one ounce of ground sea salt with twelve drops of a stimulating essential oil such as juniper, grapefruit, lemon or thyme. Make a paste by adding enough water to spread easily. Apply to the entire body with a loofah or terry washcloth in brisk circular strokes, especially on hips and thighs.

This salt scrub will exfoliate dead skin cells, cleanse the pores, activate capillary and lymphatic circulation and boost the elimination of toxins.

This is especially effective for weight problems and areas of the body that store excess water and fat, such as thighs and upper arms. Follow with a warm shower and a brisk drying with a cotton towel. When dry, apply an anti-oxidant body toning lotion to the body — not the face — for firming and toning.

Facial Rejuvenation

The skin on the face is thinner and more delicate than that on the body and needs to be treated with extreme care and gentleness. Avoid extremely hot water, harsh soaps and drying cleansers.

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Especially be careful with facial exfoliators and scrubs as you can damage capillaries and cause inflammation, one of the leading causes — along with sugar intake and sun damage — of wrinkles and sagging skin. A small sea sponge with a few drops of an anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory liquid cleanser is the ideal face-washing medium. Rinse thoroughly with warm water, followed by an anti-inflammatory facial splash.

Another trick of the spa trade is cryotherapy. After applying the face firming treatment, place an ice cube inside of a small plastic bag and gently rub over the face and eye area for several minutes to plump up and tone the skin.

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Nature's Beauty Breakthrough

Alpha lipoic acid (not to be confused with alpha hydroxy acid) is nature's most powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant treatment. Lipoic acid has been found to be 400 times more powerful than anti-oxidant vitamins C and E combined.

Human clinical trials, many which I have conducted myself, have shown many benefits to the skin, on both face and body — many of them visible within minutes, while others work over the long term to improve the signs of aging skin.

These results may be seen in minutes to days:

  • Decreased puffiness under eyes
  • Decrease in redness
  • Increase in healthy color (increased radiance)
  • Dramatic increase in skin clarity

These results are usually seen within weeks to months:

  • Decrease in pore size
  • Decrease in fine lines
  • Decrease in wrinkle depth
  • Increased muscle tone
  • Fading of age spots
  • Decrease in creped-look in eye area and neck
  • Increase firmness
  • Decrease sagging

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Revitalize Your Hair

Essential oils can make invigorating scalp massages; those recommended include rosemary and lavender. To make dry hair shiny and silky, add ¼ ounce of lavender to sixteen ounces of shampoo. For oily hair, add ¼ ounce of lemongrass or rosemary to 16 ounces of shampoo.

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To combat dryness of hair and skin from the inside out, eat plenty of cold water fish such as salmon, herring and sardines. Several ounces of freshly ground flax seed or two tablespoons of organic flaxseed oil twice a day will also replenish lost moisture to skin and hair, as well as combat wrinkles and sagging skin.

Rejuvenation from the Inside

Other than the day-to-day pressures of our modern lives, there are a variety of reasons why we burn out and look older than our years. First and foremost is diet. My research shows that anything that causes inflammation in the body accelerates the aging process, negatively affects our appearance, clouds our minds and saps our energy. Although most women and a lot of men don't to want hear this, sugar is the worst culprit. In addition to regular table sugar, this includes all refined carbohydrates that cause a rapid rise in blood sugar such as breads, pastas, potatoes, rice, peas, carrots and corn.

To really restore and rejuvenate the body you need to eliminate or greatly reduce your intake of these carbohydrates and substitute them with high-fiber fresh fruits and vegetables. I also advise maintaining adequate protein intake, along with 8 to10 glasses of water a day.

Enjoy Spa Foods

To help live the rejuvenating spa experience every day consume the foods clinically shown to reduce inflammation, replenish moisture and bring back that youthful glow. These include all of the green vegetables, fresh fruits and lean protein, such as salmon, cod, haddock, halibut, snapper, lean turkey and chicken and soy products.

In addition, treat yourself at least 3 times a week to the Nutritional Face Lift dining experience:

  • 6 oz. of grilled wild Alaskan salmon
  • Steamed broccoli or squash
  • Tossed green salad consisting of dark leafy greens such as Romaine, escarole, Mesclun, etc.
  • Salad dressing: extra virgin olive oil and fresh lemon juice
  • Dessert: fresh mixed berries or cantaloupe

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