En español | Who has time or money for salon facials, conditioning treatments or even a pro sole-scraping pedicure? All you really need is a one-night stand with yourself once a month (and yes, a few low-cost products) to de-grit, deep treat and restore your self-love. Here's how.
1. Stage the evening. OK, so you're not at Canyon Ranch (or even your local day spa), but you sure can fake it in your own fresh and tidy bathroom. This is your “me” time so no significant other, dog or cat interruptions. First, clear out the clutter. Light candles or at least dim the lights, get a playlist of soothing music going (anything from oceanic waves and rain to Willie Nelson and Etta James). Grab your coziest robe, softest towels and some clean washcloths. Have a pitcher of cold water spiked with lemon slices and mint or cucumber to sip. Then suspend all judgment about your so-called flaws. You're an hour or two away from serenity and a beauty reboot.
2. Do it your way. Personalize each "spa" session. If you're a bath lover, apply face and hair masks before that dreamy soak and maybe end with a clear water rinse under the bath faucet. Prefer showers? Do your masks and let them work while you read a book, write in a journal or daydream before spray-time. Adapt the schedule, agenda and products to suit your needs of the moment.
3. Slather on a hair mask (aka deep conditioner) ASAP. Use a wide-tooth comb to gently distribute the mask or oil evenly. Then let it "bake" under a plastic-wrap turban or shower cap. You have three choices:
- If your hair is chemically treated (colored, highlighted, relaxed or straightened) and fragile or thin, a pre-shampoo hair-repair bonding treatment like Olaplex Hair Perfector ($28, sephora.com) or Redken pH Bonder Post-Service Perfector ($16, ulta.com) applied on dry hair will save you from breakage and pricey repairs.
- If your hair is dull or dry, apply olive or coconut oil (straight from the kitchen!) as a "mask" to restore shine and softness. Slather it on bone dry — not wet — hair since water repels oil and you'll get zero benefits.
- If your hair is frizzy or damaged, a super-moisturizing cream mask such as Garnier Whole Blends Nourishing Hair Mask with Avocado Oil & Shea Butter ($6, target.com) or L'Oreal Paris EverCreme Renourishing Butter ($10, ulta.com) can smooth strands and restore a healthy look. Creams work best on hair that's wet but not sopping. Rinse hair under the faucet, towel blot to absorb excess and then apply.
4. Go face-first into a sheet mask. Infused with do-good ingredients, and with cutouts for eyes, nose and mouth, sheets are a mess-free affordable solution. Apply to a makeup-free, freshly cleansed face.
- If you're looking tired, a mask with hyaluronic acid such as Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Sheet Mask ($3, target.com) or TonyMoly Master Lab Hyaluronic Sheet Mask ($4, ulta.com) plumps up lines for a bouncy, dewy finish.
- If your skin is temperamental, breaking out, or looking grubby, an exfoliating mask with charcoal such as Garnier SkinActive Super Purifying Charcoal Sheet Mask ($2.50, target.com) or Yes to Tomatoes Detoxifying Charcoal Paper Mask ($3, ulta.com), cleans deeply and brightens.
- If your face feels sensitive or lacks radiance, a botanical-based hydrating mask such as Pond's Hydrate + Glow Sheet Mask ($2.50, target.com) or Leaders Aloe Soothing Renewal Mask ($5, ulta.com) soothes and restores a glow.
5. Apply a disposable eye mask. If your eyes are puffy, red, darkly circled or fatigued, a mask with caffeine, cucumber, licorice root such as Yes to Coconut Energizing Coffee Super Eye Mask ($3, ulta.com) or Soap & Glory Puffy Eye Attack Under-Eye Brightening Hydrogel Patches ($5, target.com) revives them. You can wear these under your face mask or even sleep in them! These are more potent than grandma's teabag-and-cucumber-slice remedies and you can keep your eyes open while they work.
6. Give hands a TLC makeover. Before jumping in the tub or shower, file and shape your fingernails dry — once wet they're more apt to break or split. File in one direction (no sawing!) on one side to the center, then the other side, and do tips last. At the end of the evening, massage hands and cuticles with a rich hand cream that contains shea butter and botanical oils such as SkinFix Ultra Rich Hand Cream ($10 target.com), Soap & Glory Hand Food ($10, target.com). Or try a thick balm with petrolatum like Vermont's Original Bag Balm Skin Salve ($8, target.com) or Aquaphor Healing Ointment ($5, target.com) to seal in moisture.
7. Thank your feet with bootie masks. Each achy, crusty, calloused foot has 26 bones plus muscles, tendons and ligaments. Since toenails are thick, they're easier to trim and file when softened first in bath or shower, so save this step for later. Follow grooming with a foot massage. Use your thumbs in circular movements to press arches, big toes, small toes, balls of feet and heels. Slip on sock masks infused with shea butter and an exfoliating acid like apple extract. Try PediSpa Intensive Moisturizing Foot Mask ($10, target.com) or Que Bella Intensive Foot Mask ($5, target.com).
8. Relax in a steamy (but not too hot) tub. Just add two cups of mineral salts such as Epsom Soothing Lavender Bath Salt for Soaking ($4, target.com) or Dr. Teal’s Pink Himalayan Mineral Soak with Pure Epsom Salt & Essential Oils ($5, target.com). Rich in magnesium, bath salts help reduce water retention that bloats breasts, tummy or ankles while it soothes achy muscles.
9. Rinse or shower off and moisturize. Shampoo and condition last to remove excess mask residue. Apply a body moisturizer while skin is still damp. A rich but fast-absorbing cream such as The Body Shop Mango Body Yogurt ($15, thebodyshop.com) or an oil like Neutrogena Body Oil Light Sesame Formula ($10, ulta.com) sinks in with no sticky after-feel. Don't forget to trim and file toenails now, while they're soft.
10. Stay blissful for a good night's sleep. Turn off your mobile, your laptop and face away from the glow of your digital alarm. Try some meditation to get yourself centered, keep the bedroom cool — and be sure to blow out all those calming candles!