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Bliss on a budget: creating a spa day at home

by By Lisa Gay

The space

First, you need a spot set aside for yourself. “Everyone needs their own little corner, even people who live in small spaces, to make themselves happy,” says Nurin Abdul of Massage Kangaroo. If you are lucky, you might have a spare room that can be converted into a relaxing space for various beauty and wellness rituals. But as Nurin says, you don’t need an entire room—just a cosy corner is enough. Pile comfy cushions and rugs, and set up a small bookshelf stocked with your favourite reads. “Invite natural elements, like live plants and natural sunlight,” suggests Jade Roseman of Noon Beauty Centre.

Alternatively, you can simply re-imagine your bathroom as a home spa. Get the lighting right—use candles if your bathroom lighting is harsh—and again, decorate with small plants. Aloe vera is a great option here, as it thrives on neglect and is a base ingredient for so many homemade beauty recipes. If your budget allows, get matching towels and linens, and prominently display them on a wooden stool or towel ladder.

Keep your space decluttered. Even if the rest of your home is messy, make sure your own space is clean—visual clutter often induces mental clutter. That doesn’t, however, mean you can’t have a few trinkets displayed, but keep them to a minimum. When you see clutter in your spot, don’t let it linger. Immediately put it away to clear both your mental and physical space.

Complete your space by throwing sheets or bright textiles over items that can’t be cleared away, suggests Carolyn Collins, general manager of Roots Hair & Beauty Salon. Ensure that the whole family knows that this is your space, she adds, as the last thing you need is a phone ringing or the kids disturbing you when you are trying to find a moment of zen.

The ambience

There are a few elements present in spas: soothing music, soft lighting, and exotic scents. While you can’t recreate the expensive furnishings found in luxury spas, you can take some of that sensual aura into your own home.

Search YouTube for your preferred beats: whale songs, bamboo flutes, raindrops, and Tibetan singing bowls are all wonderful possibilities. The sounds you choose should be soothing and not demanding; they should flow over your head like passing clouds.

Avoid bright lights. It’s best if you can place a small, dim lamp in your space. Try sourcing a perforated metal lampshade (a popular local craft) that will gently light your space while throwing mesmerising patterns on the walls. Candles are another popular way to create an atmosphere in the home, but they can also be a surprising source of air pollution, so make sure you only use high-quality, natural ingredients.

An aroma diffuser is a better way to infuse scent into your home. You can choose a traditional ceramic oil diffuser that uses a small light to heat the oil, but a more kid-friendly option is to use an electric one that plugs right into the wall. Diffusers are available in a variety of sizes depending on the size of your room; find a good selection of cheap diffusers on aliexpress.com. Jade particularly recommends lemongrass, while Carolyn says that lavender is most popular among her clients. Both will help put you in a relaxed state. Other options to explore are jasmine, frankincense, and ylang-ylang, or, for something more uplifting, try mint and lemon. Essential oils can be used to make homemade massage oils by using carrier oils such as coconut, sweet almond, or olive.

The right touch

It’s hard to give yourself a decent massage, but it’s still possible with yoga therapy balls. However, an even better bet is to employ your family. Even pre-schoolers can give a decent-ish foot massage. “Put your feet up, and get kids to massage them,” suggests Carolyn. You don’t even need fancy massage oil, she says, as just olive or baby oil will do. You can also give your kids a bit of pampering with a soothing scalp massage that will take them right back to babyhood.

You and your partner can also learn new massage skills by turning to YouTube. The basics of Thai massage are quite accessible—everyone is fully-clothed, and there are no messy oils to manage. Done right, even basic techniques will make you feel like you’ve had a yoga class without all the work.

Good taste

Most spas will engage your sense of taste upon entrance with a refreshing cup of tea or flavoured water. Jade recommends making your own spa water at home, using a clear pitcher to engage your eyes as well as your taste buds. Mint and lemon are a go-to combination, but you can also slice up colourful fruits or vegetables like carrots and cucumbers.

Display a cute teapot or cups in your space to enjoy warm cups of tea. Place small dishes of nuts, dark chocolate, and dried fruits for a quick snack with your drink. Ginger tea is great for circulation, but nothing beats the health-boosting properties of green tea. Not everyone loves the taste, says Carolyn, so if you find the taste too bitter, add a bit of apple juice or aloe vera. Carolyn also swears by apple and ginger shots—one inch of ginger blended with one apple—as a healthy treat.

“Asian therapy would recommend tonic or soup,” says Nurin, but she also highly recommends eating high-quality dark chocolate for zinc. “Food gives you energy, but also essential [in Doha] is Vitamin D—especially if you are not going outside!” She adds.

The treatments

If you have to skip the salon for a few months, fill the gap by using beauty products sourced from your kitchen cabinet. If you need to remove facial hair, says Jade, try sugaring (known regionally as halawa). There are various recipes online, with most just using sugar simmered with water and lemon juice. This blend is particularly great for removing hair from typically sensitive facial areas.

Jade also recommends facial massage, starting from the neck and working up figure-eight motions. You can also consider investing in a jade roller (found cheaply on aliexpress.com or amazon.com). Keep it in the fridge and roll from the jaw upwards, removing facial puffiness and promoting circulation.

“Most products can be found in your pantry for things like hair-spa and facial masks,” advises Nurin. Salt, sugar, and coconut oil can be mixed with honey or lemon for a bath scrub; try oatmeal to soothe the skin or even coffee grounds to improve circulation. “I recommend yoghurt and honey, two things you really can’t go wrong with! Oatmeal and milk are safe as they won’t clog pores,” she adds. To keep things clean, use face mask sheets to hold everything securely on your face.

Nurin also recommends dry brushing with a long-handled bristle brush. Start from the bottom and work in firm, strong strokes all the way towards your heart. Dry brushing removes dead skin cells and improves circulation, which makes it a great prelude to a soak in the tub with Epsom salt to relax muscle aches and pains.


Create a pampering ritual out of all the elements outlined above. Perhaps begin with an exercise session to get those endorphins going. “Do it first thing in the morning before everyone wakes up,” recommends Jade. Otherwise, she says, it will be hard to find time later. Get in a bit of pampering with your shower, then get dressed in a comfy robe and pour a cup of tea while you read a book or magazine in a cosy spot. Perhaps also engage in some self-reflection by writing a gratitude journal.

Of course, your spa ritual will look different, depending on what you find relaxing. Carolyn likes to light candles or burn lemon bark while meditating or doing affirmations. “Create your own space and do what makes you feel relaxed in the moment,” she says, “even if you don’t meditate, take a few deep breaths to set the mood”.

These, of course, are merely examples. Ultimately, the things that will make you feel relaxed are unique to you. Investing time and effort into discovering what relaxes and recharges you will pay off as you face the stresses of the day.


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