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Being stuck indoors during the cold winter months can result in more than just cabin fever. Your skin can become dry and uncomfortable too. To combat both, try cooking up a treat for yourself in the form of a spa treatment. It's easy to duplicate some treatments found at chic spas -- and much less expensive. Just remember to perform a patch test to check for allergies (your inner arm is a good spot) when using any new ingredient or beauty product. To be safe, wait 24 hours to make sure no redness, swelling, or itchiness occurs.Hydrate, hydrate
One easy trick is a quick and easy facial steam. Simply take a bowl of steaming hot water, add two drops of your favorite essential oils, and lean over the bowl until your face is about 10 inches away. Cover your head with a towel to capture the steam and relax for about 10 minutes.
Donna Maria Coles Johnson, an aromatherapist and author of "Making Aromatherapy Creams and Lotions" (Storey, 2000), says lavender and geranium essential oils are great for all skin types. She recommends adding tea tree oil for oily skin (although be aware this has a strong medicinal scent) and German chamomile for dry skin.
Note: Facial steams are not recommended for people with sensitive skin, and should not be done more than two or three times a month. Follow with a toner and moisturizer.It's a wrap
Moisturize your skin by creating a nutrient-rich body butter with ingredients from your kitchen. Here's one of Donna Maria's favorite recipes from her new book. (Be careful, this can get a little messy.)
1 ripe banana Flesh of 1 ripe avocado 1 stick softened sweet butter 1/4 cup whipping cream 1 or 2 drops of lavender or geranium essential oils
Blend the ingredients one at a time in a food processor until smooth. Add more whipping cream if necessary to make the mixture silky. Steam in the bathroom to open your pores and prepare your skin for the body wrap. Place an old blanket on the floor, and put two plastic trash bags (end to end) on top of that. Massage the body butter onto your skin (avoiding the eyes), lie down on the trash bags, and wrap yourself in the bags and blanket. Relax for about 15 minutes and rinse.Add some salt
Almost any spa you visit offers some sort of salt glow. Michelle Riley, owner of the Il Paradiso Day Spa in Miami, explains that their Celestial Salt Glow leaves skin soft because it helps to exfoliate the top layer of skin. You can do practically the same thing at home-minus the trained masseuse. Use about 3/4 cup of fine-grained sea salts (found at health food stores) and moisten the salt with about 1/8 cup of grapeseed or almond oil. Add three to five drops of essential oils (Riley recommends lavender and citrus), massage onto skin, and rinse. Keep in mind that this can be a little messy-and slippery-so you may want to be sitting down in your bathtub for this one.Bathe it away
Instead of paying $90 to soak in a tub with fresh herbs at the Essential Therapy Store and Spa in Nashville (called ofuro therapy), soak in your own bathtub for the price of the herbs. For a relaxing treat after a long day, Mindy Green, director of education for the Herb Research Foundation in Boulder, Colorado, suggests using lavender, roses, or chamomile (available from health food stores). Brew the herbs in a pot of tea, allow them to steep for 20 to 30 minutes, strain the tea into your bath, and enjoy.Skin balm
To help protect your skin from the harsh winter conditions, Donna Maria has created a recipe for a Winter Balm, especially for Ladies' Home Journal readers. Use it on your lips, dry cuticles, or anywhere you have dry skin.
2 teaspoons avocado oil 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil 1 slightly rounded teaspoon shea butter (available at health food stores or online) 1 1/2 teaspoons beeswax beads (available at herb shops or online) 7 drops lavender essential oil (optional) 5 drops geranium essential oil (optional)
Measure all ingredients except essential oils in a heat proof measuring cup and microwave for one minute. (If the ingredients have not fully melted, microwave in 10 second increments until they melt.) Stir the mixture with a Popsicle stick. If you are using essential oils, wait a few minutes before adding them. Add the essential oil and mix well with the stick. Carefully pour the mixture into a clean glass jar. Allow to harden about 15 minutes before using. Store in a cool, dry place.Related links and resources
Donna Maria Coles Johnson DonnaMaria.com
The Herb Research Foundation (303) 449-2265
Il Paradiso Day Spa (305) 672-2600
Essential Therapy Store and Spa Essentialtherapy.com (615) 321-2639Essential oils and herbs are available from: