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The kids are back in school, and you finally have some peace and quiet. Take a day to unwind from a busy summer. Pamper and re-energize yourself with our at-home spa ideas:The Refreshing Facial
Facials are great for reviving summer-worn skin, sloughing off flakes, and unclogging plugged pores. This at-home version can be just as effective as the professional variety.
What you need: Facial cleanser, mask for your skin type, basin or sink with hot water, cotton pads, moisturizer
Step 1: Before you begin, put a pot of water on the stove to heat up. Remove all eye makeup. Then cleanse your face with a gentle face wash, using your fingers to lightly massage it into your skin. Rinse with lukewarm water.
Step 2: When the water on the stove is just short of boiling, pour it into a basin or your sink. Lean over the water, which should be actively steaming, and position your face about six inches above it. Allow the steam to envelop your face. This loosens clogs in pores. For more intense steaming, drape a towel over your head so it forms a tent over the basin. Steam for five minutes.
Step 3: Dab any moisture from your face with a towel. Then, use your fingers to apply a mask for your skin type to your face. Avoid the eye area. Lie down, close your eyes, breathe deeply, and give the mask 20 minutes to work.
Step 4: When the time is up, use wet cotton pads to remove the mask. Be gentle and careful to not pull your skin. Pat skin dry.
Step 5: Pour a nickel-size amount of moisturizer into one hand and rub palms together to warm it. Then, use your fingers to massage the lotion into your skin. It may help (and be more pleasurable!) to close your eyes and concentrate on the contours of your face while you massage.
Step 6: Allow your now-glowing skin to breathe, free of makeup, for the rest of the day.
Swiping a few coats of color onto your toenails will do for everyday, but when you want to relax, try this routine.
What you need: Large bowl, whole milk, pumice stone or foot file, nail clipper and file, foot lotion, colored polish, base and top coat
Step 1: Remove all toenail polish.
Step 2: In the microwave, warm enough milk to fill the bowl. Don't allow the milk to get too hot; make sure it's a comfortable temperature on your skin.
Step 3: Fill the bowl with the warmed milk and place it on a towel on the floor, in front of a comfortable chair. Soak your feet in the warm milk for about 20 minutes. The lactic acid in whole milk does a wonderful job of exfoliating calluses.
Step 4: Move to the bathtub. Rinse feet, and use a pumice stone or foot file to gently smooth rough areas. Apply light pressure as you smooth; too much can make your skin raw.
Step 5: Rinse feet again and pat dry. Squirt a dollop of foot cream into your hand and rub palms together. Now, massage the cream into the sole and top of one foot. Close your eyes here, too, and focus on working out little kinks and giving gentle pressure to tender areas. Repeat on the other foot.
Step 6: Clip nails straight across. Then use a nail file to smooth rough edges. You may round the corners of your nails, but try to keep them as blunt as possible -- toenails that are too rounded can easily become ingrown.
Step 7: Use a cotton swab or tissue dipped in a bit of polish remover to clean any stray foot cream from nails.
Step 8: Apply a base coat. When dry, apply two coats of color, then a top coat. Settle in with a book or magazine while you give your nails at least half an hour to dry.
Exfoliation is one of the most important steps in making your skin look great. An intensive treatment not only sloughs off dulling dead cells, but also boosts circulation and gives luminosity to post-summer skin. The following routine has its roots in ancient Indian healing practices.
What you need: A loofah or skin brush (available in health food stores), body oil
Step 1: Begin with dry skin. Step into your shower or tub and use the loofah to brush your skin. Use short strokes and gentle pressure. Brushing dry skin literally brushes off dead skin cells.
Step 2: Rinse your skin under cool water. Use your hands to smooth away any dead-skin residue.
Step 3: After you have rinsed your skin, gently pat it with a towel. Don't dry your skin completely -- allow it to remain slightly damp.
Step 4: While you're still in the tub or shower, slather a generous amount of body oil onto your damp skin. Look for oil that's fragranced with a scent you love. Give the oil at least 20 minutes to be absorbed into your skin. Then slip into loose, comfy clothes to finish your day of pampering.