Several years ago I experienced yoga for the first time at a weekend retreat. I was hooked. All the mystery aches and pains in my neck, back, and arms (product of a life spent hunched over a laptop) disappeared. I felt younger, healthier—awake. Then I got home, looked up local yoga studios, and saw the price tag.

The moral of this story: self-care is expensive.

According to (one of my favorite personal finance resources) I will spend nearly $4,000 on mascara alone over the course of my adult life. Since mascara is not optional in my world, I need other options for affording all the self-care I want and need. Here are some tips I've recently picked up for how to use items you already own to treat yourself to spa services. One at-home spa day coming right up!

1. Deep conditioning hair treatment

Here, you have lots of options—nourishing, shine enhancer, clarifying.

  • Coconut oil (for really dry hair): Melt coconut oil (yup, the same oil you use for cooking) and massage through hair. Leave on for 30-60 minutes then rinse out.
  • Egg and banana (for dull hair): Mix one raw egg with one banana (mashed) and work through hair. Leave on for 10-30 minutes then rinse out.
  • Apple cider vinegar (for build-up on hair): After your shampoo, mix together one part apple cider vinegar with three parts water and pour straight over hair. Condition as usual.

2. Nourishing nail treatment

If your nail beds, cuticles, and surrounding skin get very dry and scaly or flaky, this treatment will help.

  • Olive oil: Soak your fingers in olive oil up to the first joint for 5-10 minutes, then wipe with a soft cloth.
  • Ginger ale: If your nails have become discolored from repeated polishing, soak them in ginger ale twice per week for 5-10 minutes and watch the discoloration fade.
  • Petroleum jelly: For very rough cuticles or skin, apply petroleum jelly (or your favorite deep moisturizing cream) then pull on soft gloves. Wear them over night. (My mom swears by this remedy—one her dermatologist recommended!)

3. Soothing, smoothing, rejuvenating, toning facial

You have plenty of options here depending on what your facial skin needs.

  • Raw honey (anti-aging): Take one tablespoon of slightly warm raw honey (which has natural antibacterial properties) and smooth it across the skin of your face and neck. Leave it for 5-10 minutes. Your skin will look younger, feel softer and smoother, and the anti-bacterial agents in the honey will clear up acne.
  • Mint and lemon (problem skin): Process (blender, food processor, mortar and pestle) raw mint leaves with one teaspoon of fresh squeezed lemon juice. Cover problem areas with this mixture and leave on for 10-15 minutes twice per day. The menthol in the peppermint is an anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial agent.
  • Baking soda (sensitive skin): Mix three parts baking soda with one part water and mix into a paste. Apply with a circular pattern to your face. Leave on for 2-3 minutes, then rinse off. Baking soda is a natural, gentle exfoliant and also has anti-bacterial properties to clear clogged pores, soften skin, and prevent future breakouts.
  • Rose petals (toner): Take fresh petals from roses (two cups worth) and add four cups of boiling water. Let this steep in a covered pot until the water cools naturally. Strain and store in the fridge until cool. Apply with a damp cloth or cotton pads for a natural toner.

4. Body exfoliation

You can use this treatment just for certain areas (elbows, heels and knees are common areas) or for your whole body.

  • Lemon: Slice a fresh lemon in half, then rub the fruit side directly onto the rough skin. It won't take long to see and feel the difference!
  • Olive oil, brown sugar and raw oatmeal: Take one part olive oil and add one part brown sugar and one part raw oatmeal. Mix well. Apply to any areas where your skin feels dry or scaly. (Note: in stores this mix is called a "sugar scrub" and can run you $10-$30 a jar!)
  • Olive oil and sea salt: Mix one part olive oil with one part sea salt. Apply with fingers in a circular motion. (Note: In stores this is typically packaged as "dead sea salts" and can run you $10-$30 a packet!)

5. Restore tired eyes

Tired eyes are the worst—you can use every makeup trick in the book, but it’s very hard to disguise eye fatigue. These tips can help—and quickly!

  • Parsley and yogurt: Mix one handful fresh parsley and two tablespoons plain yogurt (with active yogurt cultures) in a blender or food processor (or use a mortar and pestle). When the mixture is smooth, apply a generous spoonful to each eye in the under-eye area. Leave on for 15-20 minutes then wash away.
  • Cucumber: Slice two rounds from a fresh cucumber. Place directly over your eyes for 10-15 minutes, then remove.
  • Milk: Take two soft cotton pads (the kind you use for makeup removal) and soak them in cold milk. Place them over your full eye area for 10-15 minutes, then remove.
  • Rose water: Take the rose water mixture you made in #3 and soak two cotton balls in it until saturated. Place over your eyes for 10-15 minutes.
  • Tea: Chill two previously steeped (used) tea bags—green or white tea, mint, chamomile or lavender tea is best—and then place one bag over each eye for 10-15 minutes.


Treat Yourself to a Spa Day--Right from Your Own Fridge & Pantry