I think it goes without saying that there’s a lot of worry and uncertainty in the world right now. With stress levels up and staying at home all day becoming the temporary normal, it’s so important that we use some of this newfound extra time on our hands to take care of ourselves and our immune systems.
With a few basic ingredients you most likely have lying around in your bathroom or kitchen, you can easily give yourself some much needed TLC, without braving the outside world or breaking the bank. Here are some of my favorite low-maintenance, quarantine-friendly ways to unwind these days.
1. Give yourself a scrub down. Throwing together a facial or body scrub takes virtually no time or effort, but with a clear payoff. If a scrub isn’t traditionally a part of your routine, it’ll feel like an indulgent addition—even though it couldn’t be any simpler. My go-to combination is corn flour mixed with olive and/or coconut oil, along with a few drops of chamomile and lavender essential oils. I prefer it to not be super oily and a little grittier texturally, but if your skin could use the hydration, you can up your oil ratio. If you have sensitive skin, opt for rice flour, as it’s a more delicate alternative. If you don’t have either of these flours on hand, try a mix of sugar, olive oil and lemon. It’s a staple combination that packs a lot of benefits and smells incredible. If you have reactive or combination skin, you should opt for olive oil rather than coconut oil, which is highly comedogenic.
2. Take a soak. In my opinion, a warm bath has healing powers all its own—you don’t technically need any extras to de-stress, but a nice soak can absolutely be taken to the next level. Make it more of a ritual by lighting your favorite candles, putting the pink salt from your pantry to work, and whipping out your dried lavender and rose flowers from your tea cabinet. If your skin is irritated or could use soothing, try making a fine powder out of oats. Simply put a few cups of oats into a high-speed blender, and blend until the texture is flour-like. Store in a mason jar, and dust your desired amount into the bath. This is an ancient anti-itch, anti-inflammation, hydrating remedy. Bonus points for adding in a few tablespoons of honey to brighten the skin.
3. Throw on a face mask. A face mask doesn’t have to have twenty ingredients in it to be effective. A raw honey mask is a perfect case in point. Honey is full of antioxidants, it’s antibacterial, and helps reduce the appearance of dark spots, scars and fine lines. (Editor’s note: Here’s what we think about using honey as vegans.) If you suffer from dry skin, reach for an avocado. They’re full of vitamins and nutrients, their fatty acids help with anti-aging, and they work overtime for chapped, dehydrated skin. You could even add the oatmeal powder mentioned above to either of these options to amp them up a notch. If you’re combatting coronavirus-related stress breakouts and have bentonite clay on hand, mix it with a bit of apple cider vinegar (careful not to use a metal bowl or utensil in the mixing process) for a facial deep clean. Whatever you choose, make sure you keep it on your face and neck for 10-20 minutes.
4. Go for a hair rinse while you’re at it. For a little natural clarifying, mix one-part ACV to five parts water. This will make your hair shiny, will reduce build-up, and balance your pH levels. In the shower, put your mixture in a spray or squeeze bottle, and massage it into your hair. Let it sit for about five minutes. Rinse and follow up with a light conditioner if you want to. You can do this after shampooing or omit the shampoo step altogether. To cut the vinegar smell, consider adding a couple hair-loving essential oils. Rosemary is excellent for promoting hair growth, lavender soothes and is antimicrobial, and lemongrass helps to strengthen your strands. You only need to do this once a week for best results.
5. Smother yourself in body oil. Put your coconut oil or olive oil back to work for a bit of aromatic self-massage. If the smells of these oils are a little too potent for you, jojoba oil is an awesome neutral option if you have it. Once you’ve chosen your base, transfer it to a pump bottle, and pick out a few essential oils to make it smell like heaven. Staple essential oils you can never go wrong with are peppermint (stimulating), lavender (relaxing), lemongrass (awakening), or rose (calming). You’ll only need a couple drops of whatever you pick. Shake it all together, and you’ve got a custom body oil. When you go in to moisturize, focus on kneading and use intentional movement. Self-massage can be a powerful gesture of self-love.
6. Oil up your strands. I used to avoid hair oil like the plague, mostly because I didn’t know how to use it. As someone with fine hair, I assumed it was an automatic no-no, and my initial experimentation only fed into that belief system. Though the beauty of hair oil happens when you find the right oil, the right amount to use, and the right method of using it. For me personally, oil has to be used as a pre-shampoo and not a mask. I work an oil blend (you can use coconut oil, olive oil, or jojoba along with hair-approved essential oils) into my scalp and ends, making sure to cover everything, and then I’ll let it sit for five while I hang out in the shower. Once I rinse it out, I shampoo and condition as I normally would. You can leave it in for 20, or overnight if you wanted to for extra moisturizing. For a more luxurious oil treatment, heat your oil up. Throw it on the stove until it’s warm, but not too warm—as you don’t want to scald your skin. Massage it in deeply and all-over, and then give it at least a half hour to sit. Shampoo twice, follow up with conditioner, and limit yourself to doing this no more than three times a week (as a quick pre-shampoo treatment, you can really do this anytime you shower).
7. Heat things up with a facial steam. Facial steams are ridiculously simple, yet can really deliver a spa-like experience. At its most basic, you’ll need filtered water, a towel and a pot—though getting a little more adventurous with it is encouraged. Steaming is genius for releasing toxins from the skin, removing dirt from the pores, and getting some facial circulation going. This is a powerful pore opener, so make sure your face is clean before you do this. Get your water to a boil, and remove from heat. Here is where you can go in with some extras. I like to add dried rose petals or chamomile to my water so the steam has more healing properties. You could also pull out any herbs on the verge of going bad out of your fridge for this. Mint, parsley and rosemary work wonderfully in a steam. Using a little eucalyptus essential oil is something to consider if you’re congested or acne-prone, and lavender will help you relax further and remove bacteria from the skin. Once you’ve concocted your mix, transfer it to a bowl or leave it in the pot, keep your face at a foot distance, and cover yourself over it with a towel so the steam stays in. Keep at it for 5-10 minutes. Follow it up with an ACV toning and a hydrating oil.
Any other insanely easy DIYs you’re turning to in this downtime? Let us know!
Also by Jenna: Protect Yourself With This DIY Hand Sanitizer
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Photo: Ava Sol via Unsplash