It was in a little café here in Port Orchard where I met Barbara who happened to be our waitress. She was not a particularly pretty girl, but she had an absolutely flawless complexion.
When I commented on it, she laughed and said, “I guess you can blame it on the avocados and sour cream.”
“I bet you’ve always had a nice complexion,” I said.
“Nope,” she answered with a grin.
Okay, so I had to know. How did she get that absolutely fab complexion? I promised to buy her dinner or a dessert if she would agree to meet with me and pass on her secret. She agreed, but warned she wouldn’t have long because she had two small children waiting at home with a sitter.
After work that very day we met at a nearby Starbucks. I bought each of us a latte and listened as she told me her story. She said she was 31 and a single mom. She had two children, a six year old and nine year old. She divorced her husband a year ago (that would be 2009) after discovering he was seeing other women. He was supposed to pay child support, but had only made two payments since the divorce.
After the divorce, Barbara had to give up the apartment they were living in and move in with her parents until she found work. As soon as she got a job, she moved into a small apartment with her two kids. Her exact words were, “After six months, I was going freakin’ nuts. I had bags under my eyes the size of wet teabags. I knew I had to do something.”
She told me that one night after the kids were in bed she was browsing through a woman’s magazine her mom had given her. In it she saw all the ads for this beauty product and that beauty product. None of them were within a price range she felt were affordable.
Women didn’t always have these expensive products, she reasoned. So, what did they use? She decided to do a little research to find out and after work the very next day she dashed to the library and checked out five books she thought would be pertinent to her research.
She discovered before the commercial cosmetic age, women used botanicals and common household foods such as cream and eggs as beauty products. In one book, there was a section on the rejuvenating effect of spas. “If anybody needed rejuvenating, it was me,” she said. “I was barely holding it together financially. I was crabby with the kids. I hated my ex. It was an awful time for me.”
“So what did you do?” I asked.
“I decided to create my own spa day using products I could make cheaply in my own kitchen.” “I wanted to learn how to make lotions, scrubs, bath bombs, lip balm, lip gloss even fragrances and lipsticks. I studied how to do self message, pedicures, and manicures. It was incredibly exciting.”
“So did you ever have your spa day?” I asked.
“Yup, sure did and still do. I pamper myself with a personal spa day at least once every couple of weeks. My first spa day I did a week into my research. It was a bit of a trick with the kids, but I decided to start my spa days right after the kids left for school. That worked best because I usually have my days off during the week.”
“What is a typical spa day? I mean, what do you do?” I asked.
On my first spa experience, I just wanted the day to recoup from the stress of the last year. I knew one day wasn’t going to do it, but it was a start. I knew I had to make it cheap and simple so I decided it would involve a relaxing bath, a self message, and a pedicure.
“Body lotions, fragrances and so forth would have to wait. I needed to learn how to make them first. I wanted cheap, healthy, natural products that really worked.”
“Anyway, on that first day, after I sent the kids off to school, I closed all the curtains, shut off all the lights, and turned the radio on to a station that plays soft music. I lit two candles scented with a blend of Roman Chamomile and Lavender essential oils, I could only afford two candles so that had to be enough. One candle I put in the bathroom and the second I placed on a little table next to my easy chair.”
I then slipped out of my clothes and into my robe and slippers. I have to admit to feeling a twinge of guilt. It seemed like I should be doing something more productive than pampering myself.”
Barbara’s Secret Revealed
“So what’s the secret to that beautiful skin?” I asked.
“I think it was a combination of things. I found the spa day to be really rejuvenating. It made me feel good physically and mentally.
As for the products, they were pretty skimpy on my first spa day. However, as I learned more, I kept experimenting until I found the perfect combination of products for my skin type. I think the avocado mask helped my skin a lot. I didn’t make it on my first spa day. I kept that one bare-bones simple, but later as I learned more about it and tried it.
I couldn’t believe the difference it made in my skin. Before I used the avocado, my skin was blotchy with occasional acne flare ups. I read that avocado is best on dry skin, but it worked for me even though my skin tends to be oily. I think people need to try different things. Depending on their skin type and body chemistry what works well for one person, may not work at all for another. The same goes for essential oils. For instance, lavender essential oil is supposed to be a scent used to help relax, but it isn’t going to work for everyone.
To try the avocado mask, I simply mashed up a small, ripe avocado added a couple of teaspoons of honey and applied it to my face. I left it on for 15 minutes then rinsed. My skin looked so much better I used it several times then switched to an egg-white, oatmeal and honey mask. That works even better for me.
Barbara went on to tell me exactly how she enjoys her spa days. I have condensed that into an itemized list below for ease of reading.
This Is How Barbara Structures Her Spa Days
The day before her spa day, she makes sure the apartment is picked up and the Garbage is empty. She told me clutter stresses her out and bad smells make her feel ugly.
Barbara told me she always starts her spa day with a facial. Because her skin is oily, she cleanses her face and neck with 2 tablespoons of baking soda and enough lemon juice to form a paste.
To her cleansed face she applies a mask consisting of 1 whipped egg white to which she adds 1 tablespoon of oatmeal and a teaspoon of honey.
While she waits for the mask to dry, she soaks her feet in a small tub of warm water and reads a magazine.
Once the mask dries (about 15 minutes) she dries her feet and proceeds to the bathroom to finish her facial.
After rinsing off the mask, she applies a green tea toner. She pours 1/3 cup of boiling water over a green tea bag, allows it to cool then applies the tea.
She rinses again then applies moisturizer which she makes by adding 1/2 tablespoon of castor oil to 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
She then finishes her pedicure
Next she messages using self message techniques she has learned.
Once she has completed the message, she runs a warm bath to which she adds bath salts she has previously made by combining 1 cup of Epsom Salt, 1 cup of Dead Sea Salt, 2 teaspoons of baking soda and 12 drops of lavender essential oil.
A refreshing warm water rinse follows her bath. This includes gently rinsing her face of any excess oil.
After her bath, she rubs her body with lotion.
She then makes a cup of green tea to drink and proceeds to her manicure.
Barbara told me she is so refreshed and relaxed after her spa experience, that she lays on her bed and almost instantly falls asleep.
“How much time does it take?” I asked.
“It depends on what I have going. It can be as short as two hours. Once in awhile I’ll really pamper myself with a four hour spa day.” She smiled and said in almost a whisper, “The really cool thing is I have lots of friends now, where before nobody wanted to be around me. Tips are good too.”
“You think your spa day is responsible for that?”
“In part, yes. I’m not so uptight and I enjoy life a lot more. I also feel good about myself.”
After our meeting I chatted briefly with Barbara each time I stopped in at the café where she worked. Then one day she was gone. I queried the other waitresses that worked with her and was told that Barbara quit. The only thing they knew was that she was selling some kind of beauty products.