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Your home spa guide

Your guide to maintaining a fabulous pampering routine at home with natural scrubs, DIY facials, and top tips for gorgeous nails and make-up

Scrub it up!

“Making your own natural scrub can be a fun and educational process, with the added bonus of knowing exactly what’s in there,” says Niamh Larkin, beauty specialist at Evergreen in Mainguard St, Galway. “Home-made body scrubs can contain ingredients that you have in your kitchen already, and don’t have to break the bank – ground coffee beans make a great scrub. Recycling the used ground beans is a truly eco-friendly way to get the most out of your caffeine hit! Coffee is a stimulant even when used on the skin – it stimulates circulation and energises the skin, giving it a natural glow. For a natural facial scrub go for something a little less abrasive – banana mixed with organic porridge oats makes a great exfoliating face mask that gently lifts off dead skin cells while brightening and soothing sensitive skin.”

“Home-made scrubs are easy to make, or for a super quick option you can buy face and body scrubs from your local health store,” says Ingrid Hume of beauty company Pravera. “Scrubs are a great way to brighten the skin, removing dead skin cells and of course making skin super soft. Look for scrubs that include natural and organic plant based ingredients, are free from microplastics, parabens and SLS as these can cause dryness on the skin and can irritate and cause sensitivity in the skin. Making your own scrub at home is super easy too. Use ground coffee, sea salt and oats as skin exfoliants. Mix the dry ingredients with an oil such as coconut or olive and apply to the skin in circular motions. Rinse off and apply a body lotion for super softness.”

Let’s face it

“For anyone doing DIY facials, the best tip I could give would be to make sure you know what your skin type is before investing in any skincare products,” says Niamh Larkin. “Look for products with the leaping bunny logo so you know that they are cruelty-free, and you can enjoy a guilt-free facial in the comfort of your own home.”

“If you’re planning a facial at home create a relaxing atmosphere with candles,” says Ingrid Hume. “Cleanse the skin with a natural and organic fragrant cleanser to remove daily impurities and make-up. Steam your skin by filling a bowl with hot water, position your face over the bowl with a towel over your head to let the steam open your pores, increasing circulation and leaving your skin clean. Apply an exfoliator to remove dead skin cells, smooth and brighten the skin. Apply a face mask and relax for 10 minutes. Then apply a natural and organic moisturiser to keep skin soft, moisturised, hydrated and cared for.”

Pamper me please

“I’m all about products that can do more than one thing, and one of the best ones in my opinion is shea butter,” says Niamh Larkin. “Shea butter is inexpensive to buy and makes a great body moisturiser as well as hand cream, lip balm, hair treatment and even treatment for scars. Another good one is coconut oil. Both of these are fragrance free and exceptionally gentle on the skin so make the perfect pampering products for sufferers of sensitive skin.”

“Face masks are great as a pampering treat as they help to boost hydration and moisture and perk up dull looking skin,” says Ingrid Hume. “Hair masks are also great to boost hydration and moisture levels in your hair. If you can’t find your preferred hair mask simply apply conditioner to damp hair, leave for 15-20 minutes and rinse well. Hair will be left soft and shiny.”

Nail it!

"Well maintained hands can make you feel put-together and in control,” says Ingrid Hume. “Use a non-toxic natural nail polish - look for ones that do not contain harsh chemicals such as toulene, camphor, phthalates, formaldehyde, parabens, silicones, TPHP and colophony. These harsh chemicals can cause dizziness, headaches, cracked skin and allergic reactions such as dermatitis.”

“If you’re trying to strengthen your nails there are a few natural treatments that can be beneficial when repeated regularly,” according to Niamh Larkin. “Soaking nails in a bowl of good quality olive or coconut oil for 15 minutes once a week can improve the condition of the nail as well as encouraging faster growth. For brittle or fungal nail conditions, add a few drops of tea tree oil.”

Time to make up

A high proportion of cosmetic ingredients are absorbed into your body, so natural cosmetics are a better choice than conventional ones because they do not contain any harsh or harmful chemicals. Your local health store stocks a wide range of natural cosmetics including foundation, powder, blusher, lipstick, mascara and eyeshadow. Natural cosmetics are available to suit all skin types, and are often preferable for problem skin.

“Natural, cruelty-free make-up such as mineral powders, natural mascaras, organic lash and brow gels, natural highlighters and even lip crayons and glosses are all available from a variety of natural brands,” says Niamh Larkin. “There are also some Irish natural alternatives to mainstream make-up brands. The natural alternative can sometimes be slightly more expensive due to superior quality of ingredients, but they are better in the long run for your skin and the environment.”

Drink up!

Hydration inside and outside the body is the best thing we can do for our skin, so drink more water and apply a healthy daytime moisturiser or night serum. During winter eat less salt, less sugar, extra protein and extra healthy fats and oils to maintain sebum levels in your skin.

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