How To DIY a Spa Day and Pamper Yourself at Home

These days, heading out for a full day at the spa seems like a faraway dream. Somehow, just running a hot bath and lighting a candle or two just doesn't cut it. If you've been wondering whether a DIY spa day can really be a luxurious experience, keep reading. You may be surprised by what a fantastic retreat you can create in your own home with a little forethought and a couple of nice products.

Carve Out Dedicated Time

The secret to creating an epic DIY spa day is to prepare well in advance. There's nothing less relaxing than rushing around looking for supplies when you should be sitting and enjoying yourself. First, make a date with yourself. Put it in your calendar. This time is just for you, so block it out and be sure that everyone else in the house knows you're not available.

Create a Spa-like Environment

The night before your spa day, create or download a playlist so you have your favorite music on hand. Find your favorite candles, fragrances, and essential oils that you can use to create a refreshing atmosphere. Think about the lighting that you want. If you are doing beauty treatments, you may want lots of natural light. On the other hand, you may prefer more subdued lighting for relaxation. If you don't have a dimmer switch in your bathroom, find a solution now instead of waiting until the last minute.

Another thing you'll want to recreate from your favorite spa may be snacks and drinks. Do you usually have a smoothie when you go? Maybe you prefer lemon and cucumber water or warm herbal tea. Set everything out ahead of time.

Choose Your Products Wisely

A big part of the spa experience is the luxury products that you likely wouldn't use every day. Although you could make your own masks, scrubs, and bath milks if you feel like it, there are plenty of great options for sale. Invest in a couple of scrubs, bath bombs, and body butters, and set them aside for a monthly pampering session. You want to make this a regular thing, right? Make thoughtful choices when purchasing spa products. Don't be fooled by unsubstantiated claims. If cruelty-free or vegan products are important to you, shop around for those. Be sure to choose products that match your skin type. However, when it comes to relaxation and rejuvenation, sensory experiences make a big impact. With that in mind, choose products that you love to smell and touch. On the other hand, don't feel like you have to buy the most expensive serum on the shelf just to get a good result. If your everyday products make you feel good, use those. It's up to you.

Take Your Time and Enjoy Yourself

Think about what made your last spa day so enjoyable. Sure, your skin felt amazing afterward, but isn't it also that you were able to relax, enjoy the moment, and not worry about who was calling and texting you? Try to recreate the entire experience, not only the skincare aspect of it. Turn off your phone, be sure everything is ready ahead of time, and dive in. You'll come away feeling renewed, inside and out.

I Should Be Putting Egg Whites in WHAT?

Have you ever noticed how egg whites are treated as second-hand citizens in many recipes? I have. After all, anytime a recipe instructs me to separate my eggs and use only the yolks, I dump the whites down the sink without a second thought. But then I got to thinking “what if I could actually use those for something?” That’s when I did some research and found out just how versatile egg whites really are. Here are a few surprising things you should start saving your egg whites for, starting today.

DIY Face Masks

Before you throw egg whites out, put them in a bowl to whip into an effective little DIY face mask. I know, I know. Putting food on your face doesn’t seem natural. However, you can’t knock it until you try it. It turns out that egg whites contain an impressive amount of protein, which can help tighten the skin and mop up excess oil.

It’s really easy to make a face mask with egg whites. Simply separate the yolk from the white, mix it with juice from half a lemon until it gets nice and frothy, then apply it to your face in a thin layer. Let it dry for approximately 10 minutes, then rinse it off with warm water. It’s as easy as that! Oh, don’t forget to avoid your eyes. Lemon juice and eyes don’t go together well.

Candied Nuts

Egg whites probably aren’t the first ingredient that comes to mind when you think of candied nuts. But I learned that they’re a key ingredient for creating a nice crunch and binding the dry ingredients to the nuts. Practically every candied nut recipe calls for the humble egg white, and if you omit it from your recipe, you’ll soon see why it’s necessary. If you plan to make candied nuts this holiday season, get ready to learn how to use egg whites in a creative way.

Homemade Marshmallows

Eggs and marshmallows don’t seem to go together, but it turns out they’re a match made in heaven. If you have the ability to whip egg whites, you have the ability to make pillow-soft homemade marshmallows. All you need are a couple packages of powdered gelatin, sugar, egg whites, light corn syrup, water and a little flavoring. You can find many different homemade marshmallow recipes online. Give several a try until you find your favorite.

Cocktails

Adding egg whites to cocktails may seem strange or even gross to you, but it’s a practice that’s been going on for longer than a century. Egg whites can make your cocktail creamier and foamier than it would otherwise be. Don’t worry, your drink won’t end up tasting like eggs. Unpasteurized egg whites are almost tasteless and odorless. Their primary purpose in cocktails is solely textural.

To create frothier cocktails, separate the egg whites from the yolks. Then, work the yolk into a frothy consistency using the dry shake method. This involves shaking the egg white, along with the other cocktail ingredients, in a cocktail shaker (without ice) for at least a minute. You’ll get tired, but it’s a great way to get rid of those flabby underarms!

After a minute, add ice, then shake the yolk cocktail mixture for at least 30 more seconds. Strain it into your glass using a double-straining method to make sure the foam layer is nice and clean. That’s all there is to it! your guests will most likely ask you what your trick is. Feel free to tell them, or keep your egg white cocktail secret to yourself.

Try Your Own Egg White Recipe

These are just a few of my favorite, surprising egg white recipes. There are many more uses for egg whites that you can research. Give one a try the next time you have extra egg whites to use up.

The Truth About Essential Oils

If the wonderful woman who cuts my hair is to be believed, essential oils are nothing short of magic potions. They’ve done everything from cure her back pain and rejuvenate her nail beds to make her house smell like Thanksgiving all year long. Sounds great, right?

Before you load up on essential oils, it’s important to separate fact from fiction. Essential oils can provide an exciting array of benefits for your well-being, but some of the health claims made about them have stirred up controversy.

Fact: Essential Oils Are Plant Extracts

Essential oils are aromatic compounds that are derived from plants. Sometimes they’re harvested using a cold press or other mechanical means; sometimes they’re distilled using steam. Once those appealing aromatics are separated from their plants, they’re combined with an oil for ease of use.

How that oil is made matters. When buying essential oils, stick to those that are chemical-free and list the aromatic’s botanical name, like “cinnamomum zeylanicum” instead of “essence of cinnamon bark.”

Fact: Essential Oils Are Good for Your Limbic System

One very popular way to use essential oils is to add a few drops to some water in an oil diffuser, which will disperse the scent of the oil, or combination of oils, throughout the air. Studies show that smelling these aromas can stimulate your limbic system. That’s the part of your brain involved in behavior, emotion and memory. Inhaling certain scents can have a calming effect by reminding you of cherished places and events. For example, when I mix a few drops of clove, cinnamon and orange oils in my diffuser, it takes me right back to holidays in my grandmother’s kitchen, even if I’m firing my diffuser up in mid-July.

Fiction: Essential Oils Are Good for Your Blood Pressure

While research proves that essential oil-based aromatherapy can boost your memory, the jury’s still out on whether or not it can lower your heart rate or blood pressure, or improve any respiratory functions.

Fact: Essential Oils Can Reduce Stress and Anxiety

The keyword here is “can.” There’s no guarantee that inhaling essential oils will rid you of your worries, but research has shown that certain scents can reduce stress for certain users. For example, that Christmas kitchen oil cocktail I mentioned earlier often does wonders for my state of mind, but that’s because it tends to stir up pleasant memories.

Ultimately, it’s virtually impossible for researchers to do a blind study when scent is involved, so it’s been equally tricky to come to any strong scientific conclusions in this area.

Fiction: Essential Oils Are an Alternative to Antibiotics

While some essential oils, such as tea tree oil, have demonstrated antibacterial properties outside the human body, none of them have proven effective in fighting bacterial infections in people. In other words, adding tea tree oil to your homemade counter cleaner is a great idea. Taking a big swig of it after you wipe down your kitchen is absolutely not.

Fact: Essential Oils Can Reduce Headaches

While more research is needed, several studies have shown that rubbing peppermint oil or lavender oil on your temples or forehead can reduce headaches.

Fiction: Essential Oils Are Safe for Your Pets

According to the ASPCA, essential oils can be extremely harmful to some pets. It varies from animal to animal, of course, and the type of oil and the amount that the animal inhales, ingests or comes into physical contact with all matter as well.

Does this mean you need to junk your essential oil diffuser? If you have a pet bird, then yes, you probably should. They have exceptionally sensitive respiratory systems. For other pets, stationing the diffuser in an open area and out of your pet’s furry reach should be safe. If you’re worried, ask your vet.

Essential oils can be a great way to cozy up your space or take the edge off your migraine. As with any wellness product, however, you should do your homework first and read all labels.

How To Increase Skin’s Collagen Production

Collagen is your body’s secret weapon. It not only makes your skin appear more youthful but also strengthens your body as a whole. It’s the most abundant protein in your body, and when you have a healthy level of it inside, you look and feel healthy on the outside. Here are six simple, non-invasive ways to kick-start your body’s production of collagen.

Vitamin C

Is there anything vitamin C can’t do? It’s great for your bones and a healthy immune system. Adding citrus to your diet can increase iron absorption and decrease the time it takes wounds to heal. And it helps your body create collagen by synthesizing hyaluronic acid, which decreases naturally as we grow older.

To give your skin a more robust glow, pick up a hyaluronic acid concentrate at the pharmacy or load up on colorful, vitamin C-filled foods such as the following:

  • Oranges and grapefruit

  • Strawberries, blueberries and raspberries

  • Mango, papaya and kiwi

  • Watermelon and cantaloupe

  • Brussel sprouts, cauliflower and broccoli

  • Kale, spinach and cabbage

  • Red and green bell peppers

  • Tomatoes

  • Sweet potatoes

Ginseng

Sometimes helping your skin is as simple as brewing a soothing cup of tea. Ginseng, which has been used in medicine for hundreds of years, provides a handful of health benefits for your skin. It can increase collagen growth, reduce inflammation and fend off UVB rays. It’s also packed with the antioxidants you need to fend off free radicals for radiant skin. If ginseng tea turns you off, no problem. Try a ginseng supplement or tincture.

Antioxidants

Ginseng isn’t the only way to aid the antioxidants in your blood stream. Several foods, beverages and spices contain antioxidants:

  • Green tea

  • Yerba mate

  • Thyme, oregano and basil essential oils

  • Blueberries

  • Various extracts including coffee, licorice, mulberry and pomegranate

Some of these delicious flavors increase collagen production, while others simply aid your body’s existing antioxidants. Either way, you have no shortage of reasons to snack on a second bowl of fresh blueberries.

Aloe Vera

You’re probably well aware that aloe vera is great for sunburns, but did you know that it’s all because of its collagen-boosting properties? You can apply it directly to your skin or ingest it via supplement. Either way, studies show that its knack for stimulating cell growth can enhance your skin’s appearance. In fact, one study found that taking aloe vera orally caused the participants’ production of both collagen and hyaluronic acid to double.

Cilantro

I know, I know. You either love it or you hate it. I happen to love it, and not just because it’s full of vitamin C and linolenic acid, both of which have anti-aging potential. You already know that vitamin C has been found to elevate collagen levels. Linolenic acid, meanwhile, contains those helpful antioxidants your skin craves, giving you all the more reason to add an extra handful of cilantro to your salsa or pick up some cilantro extract online.

Algae

For the more adventurous of us, algae is quickly gaining steam as a popular treatment for supple skin. Here’s why: It stops oxidation, which is what happens when your skin comes into contact with environmental factors, thereby preventing pollution and its undesirable pals from stripping your skin of collagen. Odds are, you won’t be able to pick up algae on your next trip to the grocery store, but it’s a health food store staple.

Fine lines and wrinkles are inevitable as we age, but that doesn’t mean we have to welcome them! Partner any of these collagen-intensifying tips with a healthy skincare routine that’s low on UV rays to help your skin look and feel fantastic, no matter how old you are.