15 amazing products for the perfect at-home spa day
Put your best face forward so you can nail the rest of your day.
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I didn’t panic too much when salons shut down for the pandemic because I’m so used to giving myself perfect at-home spa days on the reg. They’re the best way to detox (both digitally and psychologically), you don’t need to schedule an appointment with anyone but yourself, and you get to be as naked as you damn well please, which is a huge bonus because I won't let anyone come over to install an air conditioner until the pandemic is over.
Now that we have a lot more time on our hands, we can get a little more involved in our pampering routines—we can try 12-step Korean skincare routines, we can practice proper hair removal that doesn’t involve stealing our partners’ rusted razors, and we can quite literally stop to smell the roses (or scented candles or moisturizer. Because you definitely don’t need another thing to worry about, I’ve gone ahead and rounded up the best products you need for a spa day that’ll bring you to happy tears.
1. A millennial pink facial system
I’ve long been a fan of the Alya Australian Pink Clay Mask because of its pleasant rosy scent and purifying properties. I was delighted to discover they expanded their roster to include everything you need for the perfect at-home facial: Start with the foaming micellar cleanser that also removes makeup, prep your skin with the pomegranate exfoliating facial scrub, and leave on your mask until it’s completely dried. Rinse off and pat dry before sealing the deal with a light Australian native berries moisturizer. Because the moisturizer is so light, this is the perfect facial to do when you need to kill some time on a Sunday morning.
2. A mask with a splash of bubbly
That one time I put on celebrity facialist Mimi Luzon’s sparkling champagne mask and got into a bubble bath, I died and went to heaven (can confirm God is, in fact, a woman and her name is Mimi Luzon). The combination of my Nectar Bubble Bath Scoop popping against my skin and the face mask popping against my cheeks like champagne was probably what it feels like to have a non-lethal serotonin overdose. The mask claims to deliver antioxidants through black currant and grape cell extract while the bubbles brighten and even skin tone on contact. Unlike thick, goopy face masks that take elbow grease to remove, this one comes off with a quick splash of water (pro tip: I leave a very thin film of the mask on my face for all-day moisture that doesn't make me break out—and actually looks like built-in bronzer or highlighter).
3. A refreshing mist
I don’t end a skincare routine without a splash of this hyaluronic acid-based mist from vegan and sustainable skincare brand Orpheus. Not only does it seal in the previous steps of my skincare routine, but it delivers an additional layer of hydrating benefits to my skin like vitamin C, E, B3 and B5. In that vein, it works double duty as a nourishing serum. This isn’t your typical mist that’ll dry out your skin 15 minutes later.
4. A hydrating lip mask
By this point, your face will feel so baby-bottom soft your lips will feel left out. Show them some love with a jelly lip mask made of softening Japanese peach, camellia oil and rose extract that also works to naturally plump. A Sephora survey found that 95 percent of customers experienced smoother lips after one week of use, and 90 percent of users saw less flakiness. Reviewers say leaving this on throughout the day or overnight eliminates the need to keep reapplying lip balm, and helped condition lips permanently.
5. A blackhead extraction kit
If you watch Dr. Pimple Popper, you know just how satisfying it is to watch pores ooze with gunk. That could be you but you playin’! Log off Instagram and get to work on your own face with this top-selling extraction kit boasting nearly 9,000 reviews on Amazon. Many reviewers find this method to be far more effective than microdermabrasion at clearing the skin of impurities. (Psst: If you’ve never done a pore extraction yourself, take certain precautions, like washing your hands thoroughly or wearing rubber gloves so as not to introduce any bacteria into your pores that may lead to infection.)
6. This buffing sponge
The human skin is like a pair of shoes: sometimes we need to scrub off the grime to let our natural beauty shine. I never knew I needed a sponge that was prefilled with the most intoxicating floral aroma I had ever smelled. I’m a bit of a butterfingers in the shower, so I appreciate any opportunity to limit the number of bottles I have to contend with. Not only does the soap use earthy ingredients like rosehip, hibiscus and green tea extract to invigorate and replenish tired skin, but the sponge itself acts as a buffer to exfoliate dead skin cells, leaving you feeling baby’s bottom-soft. Unlike a standard loofah, Spongelle’s buffing sponge is infused with an antibacterial agent to prevent bacterial growth. It’s reusable up to 18 times, making the price well worth it.
7. This beginner-friendly self-tanner
It’s no secret that a real tan is basically just damage to your skin. Get a natural-looking buildable glow with a self-bronzing mousse formula that our beauty writer Jessica Kasparian calls quick-drying and lightweight on the skin. The tanner with over 3,400 reviews works best if you first exfoliate your skin and perform a sample patch test 24 hours prior to your full-body application. It’s free of potentially harmful ingredients like phthalates and sulfites, doesn’t have that hospital-like smell, won’t streak, and beats lying in the sweltering heat for hours at a time. Since it doesn’t protect against UV rays, apply one of our top sunscreens before your next jaunt outside, and you’re golden. Literally.
8. This hypoallergenic body cream
Whether you’re prone to outbreaks and bacne or prefer to stay away from synthetic harmful ingredients, Lush’s Dream Cream is a gem of a product in every sense: it’s made of soothing lavender, chamomile, oat, fair-trade organic cocoa butter and rose oil, which work to calm and moisturize the skin (and in the best way possible, lull you to sleep thanks to its pleasant scent). With over 700 reviews, it’s become a Lush cult classic, and has even made headlines for allegedly working to heal pediatric eczema. Because it boasts a thinner consistency than a typical body butter, it applies evenly and doesn’t leave a greasy film.
9. A nail buffer
The first time I was introduced to a nail buffer, an overenthusiastic salesperson at a mall kiosk was howling at me from afar getting me to buy one. I was skeptical, but am now a buffing block convert. I had never felt nails so smooth and free of ridges, so my next nail polish application looked flawless and lasted longer. Revlon’s best-selling nail solution includes the exact same features: one side to shape, buff and prep nails, and another to polish and shine. Says one reviewer: “All of the women in my family use only this nail file and we are picky! I've bought nothing but this for several decades. More durable and easy to manipulate than any brand we've tried.”
10. Hydrating nail oil
Cracked cuticles aren’t cute, but luckily this top-rated nail and cuticle oil with 9,500 reviews on Amazon is. If you’ve been washing and sanitizing your hands incessantly over the last few months (as you should!), this oil that “works wonders” will leave your hands feeling silky smooth. It’s made of a blend of honey to naturally soothe and moisturize skin and nails, and lactic acid from milk that the brand says refreshes and stimulates the skin. Reviewers report stronger nails after a single use, and longer nails after two or three weeks of regular use. The bottle will last several years, according to customers, making the the oil a total steal.
11. A handy cuticle instrument
The difference between a polish change and a full-blown red carpet-worthy manicure is how well you clean up the skin around the nail. I know it’s tempting to grab the closest pair of nail scissors and go to town on your cuticles, but the last thing you want is blood on your floor—or worse, an infection. After moisturizing your cuticles with oil, grab a cuticle trimmer made with stainless steel precision technology and an ergonomic non-slip rubber handle to clean up any ragged hangnails or cuticles. Use the pusher to either scrape away dead skin or push it down the nail bed. One of its 2,600 reviewers says that as a certified nail technician, she’s found this set to cut down her manicure and pedicure time in half compared to more expensive brands.
12. This pigmented nail polish collection
Nail polish is such a personal matter, but there’s one thing that remains universally true: Neutral nail polish is the way to go if you’re not used to doing your own nails (especially with your non-dominant hand that might be prone to looking a little funky by the end). These high-gloss Deborah Lippmann bottles feature a narrow enough brush to give you salon-worthy precision every time. By investing in a collection, you can try out a range of neutral wear-anywhere colors like Love to Love You Baby mauve crème and Bad to the Bone slate gray. Reviewers say these colors are perfect for a summer-friendly at-home manicure, but to retain the polish’s thin and even consistency, pop each bottle in the fridge.
13. A quick-drying top coat
I vehemently refuse to apply a coat of nail polish that isn’t followed by Seche Vite top coat, which boasts over 11,000 reviews on Amazon. Not only does it cut drying time down from over an hour to five minutes flat, but it protects polish from fading and chipping, and creates that coveted glossy shellac look without the need for a UV/LED light. The best part is that one bottle lasts me several months—you only need to dip the brush in the polish once per hand, as a tiny amount coats each nail perfectly.
14. This scalp-reviving shampoo
Washing our hair can often be such a chore that we have to pencil it into our iCal (just me?). Since certain ingredients in shampoo are linked to dryness and dullness (looking at you, parabens and sulfates), choosing the right high-quality shampoo is crucial. Briogeo’s best-selling shampoo with over 82,000 fans on Sephora is both a shampoo and scalp scrub made of coconut oil and charcoal that promises to exfoliate and detox your scalp and hair follicle for healthier hair growth. You’ll also love the tingling sensation of peppermint and spearmint on your scalp, which is also posited to reduce itchiness and give you that squeaky-clean feeling like you just took a toothbrush to your scalp. Reviewers say using this shampoo is so effective at soaking up impurities that it’s cut down their need to shampoo every second day to every third or fourth day.
15. This moisture-restoring hair mask
Once the damage is done, there’s very little a single product can do to revive your mane from the dead. However, this influencer-approved mask with over 2,000 Amazon reviews left my hair so soft and bouncy it made me forget just how much heat and stress my hair has undergone over the years. I’ve found that the longer I leave it in my hair, the more deeply its moisturizing ingredients of raw coconut, shea butter, fig and argan oil penetrate each strand. In order to let it soak in while you tackle other regions of your body, you can use the mask at the beginning of your spa day covered with a shower cap.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.