Throughout my career as a beauty editor, I visited well over 300 spas globally on five continents. I’m an expert at being rubbed, scrubbed and professionally bathed in Vichy showers, hammams and the Ritz Carlton (thanks to a bath butler). I have boiled down all of those experiences into four simple, yet effective, daily self-care rituals. They feel indulgent, but are a bargain way of keeping my skin feeling good.
- Scrub. Meet the Tampico Vegetable Fiber Skin Brush, $12, from Earth Therapeutics. I deal with Psoriasis — it’s a common autoimmune skin condition that gets exacerbated by stress. It manifests in dry, itchy patches of scaly skin a.k.a. ugly. Basically the body over compensates generating extra skin cells where they aren’t needed so it’s important to exfoliate and figure out ways to soothe your soul. BTW, that’s universal. The dry brush is a great alternative to expensive tubs of lovely deluxe sugar, salt and everything else scrubs. Plus, brushing toward the heart in an upward motion from the feet up and from the neck down is an ancient Ayurvedic treatment designed to energize the lymphatic system, increase blood flow and energy while keeping skin supple and smooth.
- Soak. Working long hours and being a Mom means my workouts are not as consistent as I would like. With these inconsistencies, I’m always a bit achy (or is that age?). Dr. Teals Epsom Salt Soaking Solution, $11, is my favorite DIY remedy. In water, epsom salt breaks down into magnesium and sulfate. Magnesium helps counteract muscle cramping and sulfur is the third most abundant mineral in the body, about half concentrated in your muscles, skin and bones. The theory is that when you soak in an epsom salt bath, these minerals get into your body through your skin. That hasn’t been proven (that gets at the whole debate about what exactly does absorb into skin), but just soaking in the warm water helps relax my muscles and loosens up my stiff joints.
- Slather. When it comes to moisturizing my body, I like to use products liberally. That can get pricey, especially since I like rich fragrant oils like Le Labo Tubereuse 40, $68, for 4 ounces. Neutrogena Body Oil, $14 for 16 ounces, is the perfect solution. The light scented sesame formula is super hydrating, absorbs quickly and doesn’t require a lot of rubbing in. Then I dab on my fragrance-laden oil making that investment last longer.
- Wax. What used to be a chore is now an indulgence. I am of Irish-Italian descent and have lots of sturdy, long hairs on my legs and arms. I’ve shaved, lasered, plucked and experimented with DIY and it is never as good as having someone else do it. I think it’s the angle… There’s that certain way an esthetician standing above me can rip all the hair off in efficient, quick, clean swoops. Facing the pain and embracing the joy of someone else doing it feels relaxing. It’s my time and it doesn’t take long. After, my baby soft skin thanks me.
Elaine Farley is the former Beauty Director of Self Magazine, and prior to that the Beauty and Fashion Director of Cosmopolitan. This is the fourth in a series on budget-friendly tips from the front lines. Read about hair, makeup and skincare. Prices quoted may fluctuate.