There was a time, before we lamented our checking account balances and dwindling 401Ks, when haute spa treatments and overindulgences were the norm. We'd wrap ourselves in seaweed, experience strange ultrasonic vibrations from machines that would reduce our cellulite, and slather clay earth, which hailed from obscure, nomadic countries (the exorbitant cost, and the multi-syllabic indigenous villages from which these concoctions were procured, confirmed this) to our face. From the biweekly manicure/pedicure and blowouts, to investments in resorts laden with detoxifying programs, yoga, and chef-prepared meals, we had the means to pay for our extravagances.
Then the downsizings, corporate restructurings, and mass layoffs ensued, and people refocused their energies and budgets toward mortgage and car payments, utility bills, and ensuring their refrigerators were stocked for the week. Our daily struggle to maintain shelter and keep our families fed is hardly poetic, and days of pampering -- the crystal chandeliers, sculptural gardens, and decadent fountains of the spas we once patroned -- now appear ridiculous, borderline obscene. In fury, we read the articles of wealthy women scurrying away from Hermès like ants, clutching their five-figure purses in nondescript white bags -- perhaps enraged that one of these bags could reinstate a job, or maybe it's another example of the gross consumerism that was one of the reasons for our financial peril.
Suffice to say, we can no longer afford our lux lifestyle; we're downgrading our extras, attending clothing swap parties, and after a long workweek we're finding inexpensive ways in which we can treat ourselves. Recently, I interviewed Laura Slatkin, CEO of NEST Fragrances, and she revealed that, "scented candles in this [economy] are selling extremely well. People are staying home more and candles create a warm and inviting atmosphere that is very comforting."
Freelance beauty writer Kristin Booker reveals that her "favorite spa treatment is a deep conditioning treatment. I love scalp massages, the steamer, everything. Unfortunately, I can't really afford $70 salon/spa treatments anymore so I've found the perfect solution. After a really hard workout at the gym, I take a shower and slather my head with conditioner then I sit in the steam room! It's a reward for a good workout, my hair looks amazing (I've even learned that I give a good scalp massage) and I save $100/month in deep conditioning treatments!" Copywriter and blogger, Jamie Allison Sanders confesses, "I've been doing my own manicures and pedicures for the last six months. It's become quite a calming ritual for me, actually. I pick out my color, plop down on my couch and do the whole nine yards -- old polish removal, scrubbing, buffing, clipping, everything. I really enjoy doing my own nails not only for the money I save, but also I finally get to use the mountains of nail polish bottles I've been stashing away all these years!" Author Suzanne Guillette notes, "A few years back, when I was in the middle of an awful break-out, a friend suggested I try using Swiss Kriss, which is an herbal laxative, as a facial steam. I don't know if it improved the breakout, but I absolutely loved how soft it made my skin feel. I've used it ever since. Plus, it has a nice green scent, which is very soothing especially after days you want to pull your hair out!"
From sipping jasmine tea whilst immersed in a heavy tome, to spending rainy days indoors with a scented candle and a homemade meal, to giving yourself an at-home facial, it's paramount to cut costs where we can while rewarding yourself with minor indulgences and relaxation rituals.
My favorite accouterments for setting the mood: Village Tea Company's Lavender & Earl Grey loose teas, and Burn Voyage, Voluspa, Sweet Grass Farm, Royal Apothic's A Versailles Afternoon, and Delirum, candles. For the ultimate in luxury, check out Casa di Francesca's Deep Lilac Home Diffuser Set and Moments by Upper Canada Waterbead Fragrance Diffuser. For DIY facials, I adore the rejuvenating June Jacobs Perfect Pumpkin Peeling Enzyme Masque.
For a luxurious bath and body, I opt for St. Ives Oatmeal Scrub, glospa's Moisturizing Body Wash, jojoba and avocado-infused, Carol's Daughter Almond Cookie Sea Salt Scrub, the incredibly affordable Ahavas Mineral Bath Collection, where you can experience the health-enabling benefits of Dead Sea Mineral Salts from the convenience of your home, Tillia's Body Butters & Sugar Scrubs, and the utterly decadent La Mer Body Refiner, a multi-faceted treatment that polishes, hydrates and cushions the skin. And if you want to evoke fields of jasmine snag Korres Jasmine Body Butter.
How are you creating affordable at-home indulgences for yourself?
Follow Felicia C. Sullivan on Twitter: www.twitter.com/felsull