Simulating a Spa Day

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Sycamore Spa at The Ranch
An outdoor sauna at Sycamore Spa by Hudson, which reopened at the end of January at The Ranch at Laguna Beach | Photo by The Ranch at Laguna Beach

Enjoy the benefits of these relaxing experiences in the comfort of your own home.

By Ashley Ryan

 

With so much uncertainty in the world right now, getting rid of tension and diving into relaxation should be at the forefront of our to-do lists. But with repeated spa closures due to pandemic-related guidelines, stepping into one of these calming oases may not be an option.

Luckily, it’s easy to host your own spa day at home. Whether you take the time to unwind on your own or share the occasion with your significant other, children or close friends, you’re sure to find that there are a number of products, treatments and experiences that will reinvigorate your mind and refresh your body all at once.

“Make it as spa-like as possible at home,” suggests Shannon Lane, lead esthetician at The Ranch at Laguna Beach’s Sycamore Spa by Hudson. “You can put on your favorite robe, slippers, cute little headband—that type of thing. [Turn on] some spa music, [and mix up] spa water with lemon, mint, maybe blueberries, which are high in antioxidants. … [Add some] candles to make it more of an overall sensory experience.”

No matter which ingredients or treatments you choose to use, remember that finding peace and balance in both your mind and body will leave you the most revitalized.

Gemstone facial at Sycamore Spa
Sycamore Spa by Hudson’s Gemstone facial, which includes use of rose quartz rollers | Photo by The Ranch at Laguna Beach

Face the Facts

Nourishing the face is important—after all, it’s the first thing people see when they talk to you. And with masks doing their best to trap oil, dirt and sweat in our pores, it’s more pivotal than ever to find some good skin care practices to keep your face smooth, hydrated and glowing.

While many turn to spas for facials, there are plenty of ways to achieve similar results at home. According to Lane, one of the best products to use is a clay or mud mask. “[These] masks are going to be drawing out those impurities and correcting any imbalances, so I recommend them once a week,” she notes. “Outside of that, anything in the retinol family can assist with acne, … aging and the cellular renewal of the skin itself.”

When applying masks, she recommends using a silicone brush to apply it, giving yourself a short facial massage before starting.

Sycamore Spa by Hudson, a 3,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor space at The Ranch, reopened at the end of January, so guests may visit for treatments like the Vitality facial, which incorporates a toning protein mask and rejuvenating serum, or the Gemstone facial, a hydrating experience that incorporates a rose quartz or jade roller massage and exfoliating scrub. But these, too, can be mimicked at home.

Lane says that all three of the lines offered at Sycamore Spa—the Italian, science-based Comfort Zone; the high-end, holistic Immunocologie; and the natural yet effective Epicuren Discovery (based in nearby Aliso Viejo)—are perfect for at-home use as well. She recommends Immunocologie’s Vital Clay mask, which contains French green clay and helps with inflammation and redness, or Comfort Zone’s Sublime Skin line for anti-aging, plumping and lifting effects.

To re-create the Gemstone facial, you can pick up both rose quartz and jade facial rollers here in town at Amenah. These handcarved tools can be placed in the refrigerator or freezer for added coolness to reduce puffiness around the eyes, but can also be used to massage the face while applying things like moisturizers, oils and serums.

Momeh Boutique, an Airstream-based shop that arrived at The Hive last summer, is a great place to find skin tonics and serums to use with these gemstones. The Anointing Oil from Urb Apothecary swaps the ever-popular essential oils for infused herbs like rosemary and sage, and can be used daily to soothe the skin, encourage lymphatic flow and ease irritation. Another to consider is Noto’s Agender Oil, ideal for both males and females with a moisturizing hemp seed and soothing lavender mixture. Noto also gives back with each purchase of its Agender Oil, donating a portion of the proceeds to several nonprofit organizations.

Roots the Beauty Underground has a number of unique products to incorporate into a spa day as well, including Earth Harbor’s Island Jade gemstone facial therapy mask, a weighted piece that can even help relieve sinus pressure. Other standouts include One Love Organics’ Skin Savior Multi-Tasking Wonder Balm, featuring antioxidants like coconut and jojoba oils, and Tata Harper’s Hyaluronic Duo, a mask and toner set meant to hydrate and rejuvenate. And don’t forget to treat the lips as well, with Code of Harmony’s Buffy Balm.

Aside from the array of products on the market, Lane offers a reminder that skin care starts with what you’re eating. “Everything from your diet shows up on your skin first, so start there,” she suggests.

Massage treatments by Laguna Canyon Spa
Laguna Canyon Spa offers at-home medical massages (with a prescription) during the pandemic. Therapists bring a massage table and supplies; masks are required. | Photo by Laguna Canyon Spa

Blissed-Out Bodies

Taking care of the body is just as essential as treating the face, whether that means nourishing the skin or soothing tired muscles. Massages are one of the best ways to delve into relaxation, but, as spas are just starting to reopen (and could be closed again in the future), it’s good to find alternative options.

Lucy Wojskowicz, owner of Laguna Canyon Spa and a holistic health practitioner, reveals that there are unexpected ways to enjoy massages in the comfort of your own home. “One of my favorite tools for self-massage at home is placing two tennis balls in a long sock and tying the ends off so they stay in place,” she says. “You can lay down on the sock, placing the tennis balls along each side of your spine. Natural body weight will create a compression and relieve stress along the back.” Wojskowicz recommends starting at the lower back, massaging for a minute or two, then moving an inch or so upward as you go.

Another option is an in-home massage done by a professional. Laguna Canyon Spa has remained open for medical massages (with prescription), and is offering the same service via home visit during the pandemic. Although masks are still required, therapists bring a massage table and all necessary supplies plus cleaning products to each appointment. They can set up either indoors or outdoors.

Indulge your skin further with full-body products. “Our DIY Home Membership has options for clients to participate in receiving samples of the products we use in the spa for a home treatment they can do themselves,” Wojskowicz says. Brands carried at the spa include Sacred Earth Botanicals, a vegan brand with everything from botanical massage creams to warming lotions, and Laguna Canyon Organic, a local CBD company offering creams, massage oils and even bath bombs.

Items from Roots the Beauty Underground, like the rinseable vitamin C body polish by One Love Organics, offer nourishing properties with ingredients like aloe vera and shea butter while using organic sugar crystals to exfoliate.

In place of a sauna, take to the bathtub for a warm, soothing and relaxing experience. But, first, try dry brushing, the technique of lightly sweeping small paddle brushes over the skin. “You just brush the full body, toward the heart,” Lane explains. “It helps with cellulite, essentially excretes toxins from the lymphatic system and helps with inflammation.”

You can also incorporate a scrub, like the ginger and tea sugar body scrub at Amenah, before stepping into the tub. While its intent is to exfoliate, coconut oil helps ensure your skin doesn’t dry out in the process.

When it’s time to sink into the water, do so with a Barr-Co. bath bomb from Areo Home. Available in marine, blood orange and lemon verbena scents, these relaxing bath products help draw out toxins while also relaxing tense muscles.

Roots the Beauty Underground also offers post-bath products, such as a revitalizing body oil by Tata Harper, said to offer a more youthful appearance using vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Another option is the exfoliant foot peel from Baby Foot to help ensure that you’re smooth from head to toe.

Inner Peace

The treatments are always going to be the main focus of a spa visit, but there are plenty of extras that add to the overall experience—and you don’t want to skip over them when you’re creating a spa day at home. Aromatherapy, yoga and meditation can all play a special part in finding ultimate relaxation.

As Lane mentioned, setting the scene with candles can be especially comforting. Choose a scent that appeals to you, like the Comfy Cozy soy option from Laguna Candles, with a bouquet of sparkling citrus, violet and peony in addition to bergamot and patchouli, or the brand’s Olive Leaf blend, fragranced by warm musk, basil, Sicilian lemon and more.

Laguna Candles also offers special wellness options that would be ideal for a spa day. Choose from the crisp, rose-centric Evolve or the vanilla-pepper Soul candle, or opt for the Live Love Laugh set for a variety of scents.

At Momeh Boutique, locals can also find diffuser sets or incense, which can add to the aromatherapy element of your home spa. Discover everything from sweet notes of grapefruit to earthy fragrances of palo santo and white sage.

Essential oils can also enhance a spa experience, whether incorporated by a diffuser, in your bath, in your water or during a massage. Scents including lavender, peppermint, patchouli, lemon and eucalyptus all have calming yet energizing effects.

And, when it comes time to turn inward and work on your mind/body connection, consider practicing yoga. “If you’re having a spa day at home, the goal is deep relaxation for the body, mind and spirit,” notes Lori Kahn, owner of OM yoga & meditation. “And these are the foundations of a yoga practice. I would suggest deep breathing and restorative poses with cushions, low lighting or candles, soft music and aromatherapy—and really allow yourself to rest and enjoy.”

She says that, in addition to strength, balance and flexibility, the conscious breathing done during yoga helps to slow the mind and increase focus. “The deep breathing and synchronized movements … slow the heart rate, lower the blood pressure and trigger the relaxation response in the nervous system,” Kahn explains. Another plus? Yoga can boost the immune system—something we could all use during the pandemic.

For beginners, Kahn recommends finding an online yoga class, while she says more advanced students can practice poses they’re familiar with. “Most important is to listen to what your body needs and follow that,” she says. “So be gentle if that’s what you need—or challenge yourself if you’re feeling stronger and more confident.”

However you choose to soothe and renew, curating a spa day in the comfort of your own home is sure to leave you feeling refreshed to welcome the year ahead.

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