“The best cosmetic is inner happiness.” That’s what Kathy Nelsen, Director of Spa Services for Joie De Vivre Hospitality, said to me recently when we sat down for an interview. I couldn’t agree with her more. When you’re relaxed and feeling good inside, it shows. You have an inner glow. On the other hand, if you feel like crap, all the cosmetics and skin creams in the world will do you little good.
So how have you been feeling lately? happy? peaceful? tense? anxious? Over the past year, I’ve been doing a lot to boost my inner happiness – exercising, eating better, meditating, and taking time to recharge. One of the ways I slow down and rejuvenate is with a bath – at home or at communal baths at a spa. It’s an easy, inexpensive way to calm and balance.
At home, start your bath ritual by turning off the phone, the PDA, the computer, whatever, and replacing the constant influx of information and busy-ness with relaxing music. Fill your bath with warm water and beauty goodies. If you have dry skin, try Farmaesthetics Midnight Honey Bath & Beauty Oil. It’s totally natural, made of just three perfectly blended ingredients, and has a subtle, intoxicating fragrance. It moisturizes and conditions with organic sweet soy oil, vitamin E, and honey absolute, an essential oil cultivated from honey combs. You can also apply this oil to your skin after a bath.
If you’re not keen on oils, fill your bath with sea salt and lavender, which has long been used in aromatherapy to quiet the mind. I’m all about aromatherapy and lavender is my go-to flower/essential oil for unwinding. Kathy recommends adding half cup of sea salt. She says that along with soothing muscles by reducing lactic acid buildup, salts also neutralize negative energy we absorb from our environment and the atmosphere. She also swears by salt baths to relieve jet lag (I’m gonna have to try that). Before I add salts, I mix in a few drops of lavender essential oil. Aura Cacia has a wide variety of high-quality oils. If you want something super easy and pre-mixed, just add Aura Cacia Lavender Harvest Mineral Bath Salt to get the same results.
Don’t forget to get a bath pillow to ease your weary head. The Body Shop makes a great inflatable pillow that has a comfy cloth cover and suction cups to keep it in place. Layer on more lavender by washing with Aura Cacia’s heavenly Lavender Body Wash. The fragrance is completely natural from a blend of lavender oils.
And I would consider no bath complete without a candle. I really like Naturally Green’s natural lavender soy candle. It has a lead-free wick and no artificial colors or fragrances. Soy is great for candles, because it’s non-toxic, burns 50% longer, and produces 90% less soot. And seriously, do you want to be surrounded by toxins when you’re purifying yourself with a bath?
At a Spa
So how have you been feeling lately? happy? peaceful? tense? anxious? Over the past year, I’ve been doing a lot to boost my inner happiness – exercising, eating better, meditating, and taking time to recharge.
To take the bath experience to the next level and get even more health and beauty benefits, I head to the elegant communal baths at Kabuki Springs & Spa in San Francisco’s Japantown. Along with a large hot bath, there is a steam room, sauna, and cold dip. I learned about Kabuki’s baths a few years ago. Once I went, I felt like I had discovered a hidden treasure. It’s an amazingly affordable indulgence – about $20, depending on which day you go – that is tremendously relaxing and improves overall health.
Kathy, who manages Kabuki Springs, says the communal baths help us sweat out toxins so our kidneys and immune systems work better. Even though the cold pool (at a frigid 55 degrees) is daunting, she highly recommends taking a quick dip, because bringing the body temperature down like this seriously relaxes the nervous system (you can get a similar effect at home, by finishing off your daily shower with a cold rinse). The cold pool also helps you sweat more when you sit in the sauna.
The steam room is an ideal environment to improve the effectiveness of hair and face masks so be sure to take some when you go or buy some at the front desk. I like to slather on conditioner and leave it on the entire time I’m there for a deep conditioning. You can also help skin function better by scrubbing off dry, dead skin with the provided sea salts. Kathy considers the salt scrub to also be spiritually purifying.
I do feel purified by a couple hours at the baths. I feel the rigors of daily living melt away. By the time I leave, I am a happy, limp noodle – the picture of good health and inner happiness. I also love that I can go with my husband on co-ed days so we can unwind together. Dinner and a movie just can’t compare.
Now, I know that we all lead busy lives. But taking time for a bath at home or at a spa works wonders. Untie that knot in your stomach. Unroll the big stress ball that you’ve become. You’re worth it.