- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Some spas charge $80 for a pedicure and $250 for a facial; decent facial day creams run about $65 for a mere 1.7 ounces.

Hard to stomach in these financially troubled times?

Don’t fret, says Janice Cox, author of “Natural Beauty at Home,” a book about creating your own health and beauty products, including bath salts and facial cleansers.

“It’s very easy and cheap to make your own spa products at home,” she says.

Ms. Cox, who has been making her own health and beauty products for a couple of decades, says most products use just three or four ingredients, including food products such as cooking oils and oatmeal.

Offers Julie Hasson, a Portland, Ore., fan of Ms. Cox’s books: “A lot of the stuff is stocked in the kitchen already.”

Aside from the money savings, Ms. Hasson says, she likes making her own beauty products because that enables her to tailor-make products to fit her needs and tastes.

“You have much more control over the ingredients,” she says, adding that that can be of particular interest for people with allergies.

Some of the products, she cautions, must be stored in the fridge because they don’t include any preservatives and contain fresh ingredients, including dairy products and eggs.

But how to start?

“I would suggest start simple,” Ms. Cox says. “Give yourself a pedicure. Next time you go and get it professionally done, pay attention and try to duplicate it at home.”

Then move on to something like making your own bath salts, which can have as few as two ingredients - salt and scent.

The money to be saved can be substantial if, for example, you spend at least $25 weekly on pedicures and then start doing them at home. Also, instead of spending at least $15 for a tube of facial scrub, make your own by throwing together an egg white, a couple tablespoons of baking soda, some water and whole milk. Cost: $1 or less.

In terms of creating your own spa atmosphere at home?

“I think candles make a big difference,” Ms. Hasson says. “They help transform a typical bathroom to a spa with soft light and a calming atmosphere.”

Ms. Cox says the space has to be peaceful: the fewer stimuli the better.

“I say create a ‘media detox’ environment,” Ms. Cox says, adding that either you want it to be as quiet as possible or you want to play typical spa music - nature sounds or New Age tracks. Also, why not add a pitcher of cold water with cucumber slices?

For natural, refreshing scents, she suggests hanging herbal tea bags on the shower head.

“And for all the money you save, you can buy some nice and fluffy towels and a robe,” she says.

Voila! Your spa at home - complete with inexpensive homemade scrubs and bath salts - is ready for strained muscles, minds and pocketbooks.

Body scrub

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup light oil, such as canola

1/2 teaspoon vitamin E oil

Mix ingredients and store in a clean container with a lid. Use as needed in the shower.

English lavender bath

1 cup lavender flowers, fresh or dried

2 cups oatmeal

1/2 cup baking soda

Place all the ingredients inside a food processor or blender. Grind until you have a smooth, fine powder the consistency of whole-grain flour. Pour into a clean, airtight container.

To use, pour 1/2 cup into your bath as you fill the tub.

Fun facts

Eggs - Raw eggs, full of protein, give hair extra shine. Just make sure to rinse with cold water, or you’ll be scraping scrambled eggs from your scalp.

Beer - Beer is full of sugar and protein, which help thicken hair. Don’t worry, though, about smelling like a bar; the beer smell disappears as the hair dries.

Lemon - Nature’s own antibacterial product, it often is used in cleansers. Lemon juice helps bring out highlights in hair when exposed to summer sun.

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