September 1, 2011 Nails

Book a Weekend Spa Retreat (at Home)

Squeezing a mani in between meetings or cutting your lunch short to fit in a facial is anything but relaxing. Trust us, we know! Give yourself (and your wallet) a break from the rat race by dedicating your weekend to a few at-home spa treatments. We spoke with Jamie Ahn, president of The Townhouse Spa in NYC, to get insider tips on mimicking your favorite pro treatments in the comfort of your own home. Reflexology anyone?
On Friday night...Give yourself a facial
Start by washing your face to rid any dirt and oil, then go over it with a toner like Kiehl's Tea Tree Oil Toner to boost hydration and balance out your skin. While your skin is still damp from the toner, rub a gentle exfoliator like Ahava Facial Mud Exfoliator onto your T-zone and cheeks (where oil often gushes).  Rinse and pat dry.
Next, (for the true spa effect) use a spatula or paint brush to apply a face mask.  "It's important to include the neck and decolletage too because they're a dead giveaway of your real age," says Ahn. For a super moisturizing face mask, try mixing oatmeal with honey and leaving it on your skin for about 20 minutes. If you have oily skin, opt for something more cooling like greek yogurt mashed together with strawberries. Of course, your favorite face mask in a bottle works too! Remove your mask with warm water and pat dry. Reapply your toner and finish with a moisturizer.
On Saturday...Relax with a foot massage
Add some extra oomph to your pedi (it's tomorrow, by the way) with a DIY reflexology treatment. "The purpose of reflexology is to play around with the pressure points, which are connected to the organs in your body," Ahn explains. Use a heavy, cream based moisturizer with no slippage like Jason's Coco Butter, and start off by pressing different areas of your foot with your thumb. Experimentation is key, but for accurate association of pressure points to your organs print out a reflexology map online and follow along.
"Your body and brain will tell you when you're hitting points with the most sensitivity," Ahn comments. When you get comfortable with your thumb, try using the knuckle of your index finger. Concentrate on one area at a time for a few minutes for maximum stress relief. Press each area with little knuckle pumps, then slide your knuckle a half inch up and down on the area back and forth and repeat.
On Sunday...It's mani/pedi time!
Start off by filing your nails following the shape set previously by your manicurist. Once the shape is set, soak them in coconut milk for three minutes to soften the cuticles. "If you allow your nails to soak any longer they'll expand and you'll be working with a weak nail that's out of it's natural form," says Ahn. Next, rub a little olive oil, or cuticle oil like Creative Nail Design Solar Oil over each cuticle and gently push them back using an Orange Wood Cuticle Stick. "Don't attempt to use the silver cuticle clippers at home," Ahn warns. "If you accidentally clip too much, you can create a space in between your cuticle and your skin where bacteria can harbor causing an infection." To remove excess skin, gently rub a nail brush back and forth over your nails.
Create a scrub using the coconut milk you soaked in, mixed with a couple of spoonfuls of sugar. Make sure when you exfoliate to rub up to the elbows when preforming your manicure and up to your knees when doing your pedicure. Rinse and use a shea or cocoa butter cream to moisturize your hands and feet. "You never want to use a moisturizer loaded with oils and denser creams are more pampering," Ahn comments.  Since the tops of your hands and feet don't have a lot of sweat glands, they're drier, so begin moisturizing there first and use the excess for underneath.
"Ridding excess oil is key to making polish last," says Ahn. Start by blotting your hands and feet off with a tissue then go over each nail with non-acetone polish remover making sure to get underneath and on the sides of the nails. "Choosing the right base and top coats are essential, as your base coat is like tape and your top coat acts like an umbrella to your color," says Ahn.
How do you pamper yourself after a long, loooooong work week?


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