Spa-phobic? Achieve a similar sense of Zen at home
A cruel irony, given my job, is I absolutely hate spas. As a grooming writer, I get invited to sample some of the best facilities available, and experience the most relaxing treatments in the country. For a lot of people, slipping into a robe and slippers and indulging in a succession of fancy facials, deep tissue massages and all-over mud wraps would be a dream; for me, it’s more big fat zero than Zen. I hate everything, from a stranger pawing at my face to the notion of scheduled relaxation and the minefield of spa etiquette. Just the thought of it actually stresses me out, which isn’t the objective.
It’s not that I’m against self-indulgent pampering – quite the opposite – it’s just I like to be in the right frame of mind when it happens, in a familiar, comfortable environment and, preferably, not wearing paper pants – and I’ve met plenty of other people who are just as spa-phobic as me. Even beauty therapists themselves acknowledge that a client’s receptiveness to the spa experience often depends on their mood on the day, something you can’t exactly predict when you book a treatment in advance. And of course, in the age of austerity not everyone has the cash to splash on the experience.
As I’ve discovered, you can easily create the benefits of a spa at home. Cheap-as chips Epsom salt makes a great wind down bath soak, thanks to its magnesium content (I toss in a couple of sprigs of lemon balm that I grow in the garden, but there are plenty of de-stress bath oils out there); Moroccan Natural’s Hammam Home Spa Kit has everything you need for a relaxing hour or so in the smallest room; and if you have some helping hands you can easily recreate a back mask (one of the most popular spa treatments, especially with men) with The Body Shop’s 3-in-1 Tea Tree Wash Scrub Mask. Use it to scrub your back, or leave on for five to 10 minutes to draw out impurities.
All you need then is a mood-setting scented candle (Jonathan Ward’s organic soy wax Roscuro candle, with its comforting notes of agar wood and honey is my current favourite) and some appropriate music. Perfect albums to pamper to include ambient classics like Brian Eno’s Thursday Afternoon, Harold Budd’s The Pearl and the Cocteau Twins’ Victorialand, none of which feature windchimes, waterfalls – or Enya. B