DIY Facial Peels

Shannon Smyth

Peels are essentially an exfoliation process that removes dead skin cells, mainly through the use of acids that loosen the bond between the cells, and dissolve debris away.

Below are three DIY facial peels to make at home. They're known as chemical peels, which sounds scary, but it's the acids in the ingredients that are doing the work. As with all products, you may find one that feels the best to you or gives you the results you most want. Try them all to find out which one is your favorite.

DIY Sugar Peel

1/4 cup of sugar
1/4 cup yogurt

Combine the sugar and the yogurt to make a paste. Using your fingers apply to the entire face while avoiding the eyes. Let the peel rest for about 15-minutes and remove with cool water and a towel if necessary. This peel will help restore hydration and even out dark spots.

DIY Peel for Wrinkles

1 egg white
½ cup of de-seeded cucumber pulp
1 tsp lemon juice

Beat one egg white and mix it with cucumber pulp. Add a teaspoon of lemon juice and mix well, creating a paste. Apply the finished product to your face and allow it to sit for 20 minutes before rinsing it off with water. This combination of egg whites, which naturally smooths wrinkles, with cucumbers will help de-wrinkle and moisturize the skin and is the perfect peel for springtime skin.

DIY Sensitive Skin Peel

1 cup green tea
1 cup of chamomile tea
1 small cucumber
1 tsp unflavored gelatin
4 ounces of water

Green tea calms irritated skin, while the cucumber provides ascorbic acid (vitamin C), which can soothe skin irritations and help reduce swelling.

Steep the chamomile and green teas together in approximately 4 oz of water and add the unflavored gelatin. Blend a cucumber until it resembles the consistency of a paste and add the cucumber juice to the tea and gelatin mixture. Before applying to your face, allow the mix to cool in the refrigerator for about a half an hour to thicken it up. Apply to your face for 15 to 20 minutes, or until it completely dries, and then peel off the mask using warm water.

Many thanks to The Lantana Spa at the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa for providing us with these DIY mask recipes. 

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6 Tips to Avoid These Summer Skin Problems

Shannon Smyth
6 tips to avoid these summer skin problems via @agirlsgottaspa Oh the summer skin care woes. From sunburn to body acne to sun parched skin, we've gathered expert tips for how to avoid them from the start. Perspiration, body acne Expert Tip:  “To prevent breakouts in the summer, use oil-free moisturizer. During the hotter months skin’s natural oil combined with oil-free moisturizer is enough to keep skin well-hydrated. This trick will also help prevent skin from looking too shiny in the summer.” –Alina Cimpoeru, lead esthetician at The Guerlain Spa Treatment: The deep cleansing Orchidee Imperiale “Cure” Facial utilizes products from the renowned Orchidée Impériale skincare range to fight signs of aging, and leaves acne-prone skin feeling fresh and radiant. Our favorite product to use at home: Subtle Green Vienne Moisturizing Lotion for face and A Girl's Gotta Spa! Body Lotion for body 6 tips to avoid these summer skin problems via @agirlsgottaspa Bloat, Water Retention “Hydration, hydration, hydration! Drinking plenty of water post-treatment helps to flush out the toxins overall smoother and healthier glow. Common causes of water retention during the summer months are the beaming heat, which causes the body to be less efficient at removing fluid from tissues, hydration is the main key to healthy skin!” says Spa Lead Tamra Spier at Hilton Orlando’s eforea spa Treatment: Beach Body Contouring Wrap is designed to get travelers ready for the beach, lemon and lime team up with seaweed and micronized green coffee to slim, tone and breakdown fat. Our favorite product to use at home: 1907 Alkaline Water  6 tips to avoid these summer skin problems via @agirlsgottaspa Sunburned body Expert Tip: “One of the most important recommendations I give after sunbathing is to rinse your body with fresh water to remove salt and/or chlorine from the skin. These two elements will dry the skin quickly. The skin is incapable of producing water, only oils, so during summertime it is imperative to consume plenty of water; your skin will really appreciate it.” – Frank Garcia, Spa Director at Fort Lauderdale Marriott Harbor Beach Treatment: The Anti-Aging Massage uses a Swedish technique combined with a plant based anti-aging massage cream. The cream contains frankincense, which preserves tissue and stimulates collagen synthesis, Roman chamomile to protect skin cells, Mango and Cupuacu butters to nourish and sooth the skin, and plum kernel oil and quinoa oil to fight dehydration.  Our favorite product to use at home: A Girl's Gotta Spa! Body Wash (has 30% soothing aloe) 6 tips to avoid these summer skin problems via @agirlsgottaspa Cracked heels/feet Expert Tip: Wearing sandals too often can crack the skin around your heel. This summer, maintain skin’s elasticity with a mineral exfoliator. It will act like a soap and leave you with a baby soft skin – Christophe Champs, Studio Manager at the Metropole Espa Monte-Carlo. Treatment: The Black Diamond Scrub by Réverence de Bastien (created by Bastien Gonzalez, famed “pedicurist to the stars”) is a mineral foaming scrub combining black diamond, particles of mother of pearl and black volcanic sand for a natural exfoliation that clears away dead skin cells, leaving feet smooth and silky. Our favorite product to use at home: Amope Wet Dry Pedi Foot File  6 tips to avoid these summer skin problems via @agirlsgottaspa Chapped Lips, Wind-Burned Face Expert Tip: “Use chamomile tea to soothe and relieve some of the discomfort of sunburned or wind burned skin. The chamomile tea tannins offer anti-inflammatory properties that relieve the sense of burn and make you feel calm. I fill a spray bottle with cold tea and spray tea directly on the skin or for sensitive areas around the eyes, use teabags and place them over the eyes.” – César Sánchez, Spa Manager – Costa Rica Marriott Hotel San Jose Treatment: The Antioxidant Facial is an oxygenating, anti-aging facial that utilizes ingredients brimming with antioxidants, including an application of natural ingredients rich in protein, vitamins, minerals and botanical extracts, to refresh and hydrate sun- and wind-burned skin, combat premature aging, disrupt hyperpigmentation and provide skin with a healthy glow. Our favorite product to use at home: Lasting Smiles Lip Balm and Teami Skinny Tea 6 tips to avoid these summer skin problems via @agirlsgottaspa Dehydrated/Flaky Skin Expert Tip: “After a hot shower, cleansed skin is more receptive to getting hydrated using Thermotherapy. For dehydrated skin, use a hydrating serum for the face and neck. Soak a towel in warm water, cover the face and rest for five minutes. Then apply hydrating lotion, soak a face towel in iced water, cover and rest for five minutes. Skin feels hydrated, tighter and firmer.”  – Michelle Arce, Marketing Director at Zen Spa Retreat – Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel & Casino Treatment: For dehydrated skin, the Deep Skin Hydrating Booster Treatment uses a combination of peeling, ionization and thermotherapy of marine collagen and hyaluronic acid to instantly plump skin cells with extra moisture, restore smoothness and enhance skin's suppleness. Our favorite product to use at home: Block Island Organics Revitalizing Night Cream Subscribe to A Girl’s Gotta Spa! beauty blog. Watch our reviews on YouTube, see our pins on Pinterest and check us out on Instagram. Got a Kindle? We’re on Kindle too!

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5 Sun-Kissed Summer Prep Tips For Glowing Skin

Shannon Smyth
6 Sun-kissed summer prep tips for glowing skin via @agirlsgottaspa If you're looking to get your skin Summer-ready, read on for tips from spas that give some skin advice you'll want to start using ASAP. Inflammation, Environmental Irritant Damage Tip: The wound healing herb, Calendula, is traditionally known to reduce inflammation and soothe irritation.  Create an at-home face mist, combine dried Calendula flowers and oats in a French press, letting it steep in boiled distilled water for 10 minutes.  Once cool, pour into spray bottle and spritz face liberally for soft and hydrated skin. – Barbara Close, Founder at Naturopathica Chelsea Healing Arts Center & Spa Treatment: Perfect for those ready to escape the urban city and head to the beach, the Bio-Energy Lift Facial treatment uses a combination of liquid microdermabrasion technology with advanced skincare formulas to re-energize and remineralize the skin by replenishing oxygen consumption while repairing and protecting the skin from free-radical damage and environmental irritants. Our favorite product to use at home: A Girl's Gotta Spa! Energizing Citrus Body Wash (ingredients include calendula, aloe and other plants.) 6 Sun-kissed summer prep tips for glowing skin via @agirlsgottaspa Dull Complexion Expert Tip: “I love a good body scrub to eliminate the accumulation of dead skin cells and get that healthy glow in the summer. To maximize results, scrub with a body brush in circular movements then apply coco oil which provides deep hydration and promotes the removal of dead cells to brighten a dull complexion.” – Nicole Courrau, Spa Manager at Sibö Rainforest, Spa & Retreat – Los Sueños Marriott Ocean & Golf Resort Treatment: The Well-being Body Massage begins with a dry body brushing to remove dead skin, oxygenate outer layers of tissue and stimulate the lymphatic system. Native coconut oil is applied using flowing movements, soothing the body and renewing the skin with a relaxing massage. Our favorite product to use at home: A Girl's Gotta Spa! Energizing Citrus Salt Scrub 6 Sun-kissed summer prep tips for glowing skin via @agirlsgottaspa Cellulite Tip: “Caffeine is to cellulite as Kryptonite is to Superman: its worst enemy. Recycle those coffee grounds and give yourself a daily scrub followed by a rich moisturizer to combat those lumps and bumps." Sharla Martin, Spa Director at The Windsor Court Hotel Treatment: Summer Regal Retreat - A detoxifying treatment that begins with dry brushing of the body to release toxins, followed by an invigorating full body coffee scrub and steam shower to slough all the unwanted dead skin from your body. The transformational effect finishes with a stimulating ginger oil massage and spine revitalizing mask. Our favorite product to use at home: Svelta Coffee Sugar Scrub  6 Sun-kissed summer prep tips for glowing skin via @agirlsgottaspa Premature aging, collagenases Tip: Banana- This powerful fruit isn’t just good for eating, but can also be used as a creamy face mask. Mash one banana up with a teaspoon of orange juice and a teaspoon of plain yogurt, and leave it on for 15 to 20 minutes. The vitamin A will help fade dark spots and blemishes, while vitamin B will prevent aging, and potassium will moisturize and hydrate skin cells. – Albert Cruz, Spa Manager at Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino’s eforea spa Treatment: The Age Defyer Facial uses powerful skin-illuminating botanicals, a multi-acid peel, brightening facial serum, and unique cooling masque; leaving skin lighter, brighter, and more refined. Our favorite product to use at home: We also love this DIY banana facial mask Brittle hair, dry scalp Tip: Whip an egg white thoroughly along with two tablespoons of lukewarm water. Apply the mixture to your damp hair and scalp and massage with your fingertips in a circular motion for 15 minutes. Then shampoo your hair with cool water. Do this once or twice a week, depending on the condition of your hair. – Albert Cruz, Spa Manager at Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino’s eforea spa Treatment: Discover true Caribbean relaxation with the spa’s 110-minute Relax & Reflect body treatment that includes a gentle skin cleanse, relaxing Salt Scrub, hour body massage, and scalp massage complete with a restorative aromatherapy oil blend of sweet orange, palmarosa, and rose geranium. The treatment utilizes ESPA’s all natural and silicone-free Pink Hair & Scalp Mud cream for a mineral-rich conditioning mud mask that leaves hair and scalp feeling soft, smooth, and reinvigorated. Our favorite product to use at home: Keune So Pure Exfoliating Shampoo Subscribe to A Girl’s Gotta Spa! beauty blog. Watch our reviews on YouTube, see our pins on Pinterest and check us out on Instagram. Got a Kindle? We’re on Kindle too!

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Pre-Natal Massage at The Lodge at Woodloch

Shannon Smyth
Pre-natal massage review of @lodgeatwoodloch via @agirlsgottaspa Your aching back, your swollen cankles, your sore shoulders... if you are in your third trimester of pregnancy, I'm sure you can relate. There's so many things to look forward to with your impending arrival, but feeling like your body is falling apart is not one of them. As someone who absolutely loves her spa massages, pre-natal massage was something I was curious about since massage during pregnancy can have some unwanted side effects (especially if you are considered high risk, like myself.) Before heading to your local spa to indulge in a pre-natal massage, make sure that the therapist is trained in pre-natal. There's pressure points, etc. that are to be avoided during pregnancy because they can trigger contractions (some even say pre-term labor.) And there are certain essential oils you should stay away from. You should also get the all clear with your doctor/mid-wife first, as well. The Lodge at Woodloch, located in the beautiful Pocono Mountains, has staff that are trained in pre-natal massage. Once I had the all clear from my mid-wife team for massage, I ventured up during their Beauty Event Weekend in June.  The Lodge at Woodloch offers 50 and 75 minute Pre-Natal Massage, 50 minute Pre-Natal Shiatsu Massage, a 25 minute Gentle Belli Facial and a 50 minute Nuturing Body Polish. The treatment rooms at The Lodge at Woodloch are always relaxing with low lighting, soothing fragrances and tranquil music. When my therapist told me I would first lay on my back, I was surprised. I was worried that it would be uncomfortable or that I'd have difficulty breathing, however the massage table is manipulated in a way that you don't actually lay flat. It was quite comfortable, in fact. Pre-natal massage at The Lodge at Woodloch includes massaging your shoulders, scalp, arms, legs, ankles and bottom of your feet with Mama Mio Skincare. For the massage I had, they used O.Mega Tender Touch Massage Oil which contains avocado oil, jojoba oil, borage seed oil, rose hip seed oil and combined it with an essential oil blend of citrus, lavender and ylang ylang. Avocado Oil - rich oil that readily penetrates the skin due to the presence of Palmitoleic Acid. Avocado Oil is best suited for dry skin applications. Jojoba Oil - the closest oil to your skin’s own sebum; it is very soothing, helpful in healing and protecting skin from the ageing process. Borage Seed Oil - very high in the essential fatty acid Gamma-Linolenic Acid (GLA – Omega 6), making it extremely valuable in skincare formulations. Numerous studies have shown the topical application of oils containing GLA will effectively repair severely dry skin. Rose Hip Seed Oil - high in Linoleic and Linolenic essential fatty acids, which are key components of the epidermal lipid bi-layer. This oil is beneficial for the treatment of damaged and distressed skin by providing intense moisture. It smelled amazing. Who knew how much my feet were in need of a massage until the therapist touched them? She then moved to my belly for a brief belly massage. I warned her that my son may kick her in the process. However, he must've have felt how relaxed his mom was and didn't move the entire time. Once the front portion of your body has been tamed into relaxation, you then lie on one side with a pillow between your legs, a pillow under your head and a cloth covering your eyes so that a portion of your back can be massaged. Maybe it was just me, but the pillows were literally the fluffiest most comfortable pillows I have ever experienced and I wanted to drift off to sleep. You then switch sides so that she can give the rest of your back the attention it needs. When the 50 minutes were up, I told the therapist I would be OK if she just left me there to sleep. Unfortunately, others needed to be pampered so I couldn't take a nap. Darn. This pre-natal massage was glorious, my only advice is to go with 75 minutes. Take in as much pampering as you possibly can before your little one arrives. My husband gifted me a gift certificate for The Lodge at Woodloch that I intend to split between a pre-baby pedicure (because I honestly can't each my feet anymore) and a post-baby Tension Tamer massage when my upper back will be in dire need of soothing. If you've had a pre-natal massage at The Lodge at Woodloch, I'd love to hear about your experience in the comments! Subscribe to A Girl’s Gotta Spa! beauty blog. Watch our reviews on YouTube, see our pins on Pinterest and check us out on Instagram. Got a Kindle? We’re on Kindle too! *Disclosure: This massage was comped. However, all opinions and glorious relaxation are all my own.

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Carlsbad Plaza Spa and Wellness Hotel

Shannon Smyth
The Carlsbad Plaza Hotel via @agirlsgottaspa The Carlsbad Plaza Hotel is a jewel in the center of Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic, one of the most famous spa cities in central Europe. In this well-known spa and wellness hotel, treatments in one of their many luxurious medical spa suites aim to heal gastrointestinal diseases, metabolic disorders, diabetes, obesity, locomotor system diseases, liver, pancreas, gallbladder and biliary tract diseases, neurological disorders and many more. The Carlsbad Plaza is a five star hotel and a member of the Leading Hotels of the World. It offers all all you can desire under one roof. From the time of your arrival in a limousine of your choice to the luxurious well-appointed accomodations, you'll feel pampered and relaxed during your stay. Hungry? Try Sorrento with its international cuisine or La Bohème, which offers exclusive and delicious French dishes. If you only crave something small, you can enjoy a snack in one of the many different hotel bars. Looking for entertainment? Grab a seat at the hotel's Old Times bar where you can enjoy a glass of sparkle accompanied by the tunes of live music, or maybe enjoy a litte adrenaline rush at the Carlsbad Casino. Carlsbad Plaza Hotel Wellness Suite via @agirlsgottaspa Carlsbad Plaza Hotel Swimming Pool via @agirlsgottaspa But since your stay at the Carlsbad Plaza Hotel is geared towards relaxation, improving your health and getting pampered as never before, you might enjoy a day at the spa, which covers a massive 37,000+ square feet. The spa offers 7 different types of saunas, several pools, a relaxation room and much more. When it comes to health and spa treatments, The Carlsbad Plaza offers not only doctors in more than 14 medical specializations, but they provide classic spa treatments with modern equipment for the best results. You can enjoy full diagnostics and treatments like baths, massages, oxygen therapy, or maybe the cryotherapy with its -110 degrees celsius. Most of these treatments can be enjoyed alone or as a dual treatment with your partner or best friend. Carlsbad Plaza Hotel #Spa Suite via @agirlsgottaspa If you are in search of something a little more, you can visit the Carlsbad Clinic adjacent to the hotel. There you can undergo surgical procedures, visit the gastroentrological center, the beauty salon or maybe even enjoy a Thai massage. Before you leave don't forget to buy something for your loved ones at home from one of the many different boutiques at The Carlsbad Plaza. There really are so many different activities to enjoy during your stay, which are ready for you to explore! Have you visited the Carlsbad Plaza Hotel? Subscribe to A Girl’s Gotta Spa! beauty blog. Watch our reviews on YouTube, see our pins on Pinterest and check us out on Instagram and G+. Got a Kindle? We’re on Kindle too! a

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Exfoliation Massage (Mandi Lulur) At Bodyworks Bali

Gail Lewis

Exfoliating massage at Bodyworks #Bali review #spa

Nothing says complete and utter relaxation to me quite like indulging in a massage, especially a 75 minute long massage, followed by total body exfoliation, body mask and a luxuriating soak in a warm flower-filled bath.  This is how I spent two hours at a spa in Bali thanks to the suggestion of a woman I was lucky enough to share a taxi ride with.  As soon as I got out of the taxi I knew where I was headed to next: Bodyworks spa in Seminyak, Bali.

Bodyworks #Bali #spa treatment review

Bodyworks has been in business in Bali for over 15 years and they always seem to be insanely busy.  The Bodyworks Spa Menu includes a wide variety of services ranging from traditional Balinese massage to  facials, nail care, hair removal and hair treatments.  Pretty much everything on the Bodyworks Spa Menu looked pretty enticing, but none as much as the Exfoliation Massage, otherwise known as the Mandi Lulur, and this treatment was everything I had expected and more. The treatment began with a deliciously relaxing 75 minute massage, after which my entire body was covered with a grown granular paste (the traditional Javanese lulur.)  The paste is made up of turmeric, sandalwood, cinnamon, ground nuts and rice.  After letting the paste dry on my skin for a few minutes it was gently rubbed off to exfoliate my skin.  My skin was then rinsed off and cooling fresh yogurt was applied to my entire body; including my face.  I was told that the yogurt contains enzymes that stimulates cell activity and restores the pH balance of my skin.  After letting the yogurt mask sit for a few minutes, my skin was again rinsed after which I was led to a bath tub filled with flower petals in which I soaked for the last 10-15 minutes of my treatment. I emerged from this treatment utterly relaxed with smooth, soft, glowing skin.  I have tried a lot of spa services and I can honestly say that this is one of the best, most indulgent spa services I have ever received and it was only about $45 US dollars! Bodyworks is a definite "must" if you happen to find yourself in Bali. Subscribe to A Girl’s Gotta Spa! Watch our reviews on YouTube, see our pins on Pinterest and check us out on Instagram and G+. Got a Kindle? We’re on Kindle too!

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Balinese Creambath At Amo Spa, Bali

Gail Lewis

Amo #Spa in #Bali

The first time my fiancé described a Balinese Creambath to me, I swear I heard harps playing and birds gayly chirping in the background as he waxed poetic about what sounded positively heavenly.  Now four years later we are in Bali and the first order of business for me was to experience a Creambath first hand.  There are a ton of spas and salons that offer this service, but I wanted to experience the specific treatment he had described to me exactly the way he described it, which led us to Amo Spa in Seminyak, Bali. 

himalayan salt scrub

Amo Spa #Bali

Amo Spa is the creation of native New York Supermodel/Actress Navia Nguyen and is a beautifully serene space with an amazing service menu and an expertly trained staff. 

Before my service began, I had the pleasure of sipping on a cool refreshing glass of wine from the in-house bar.  After changing into proper Amo Spa attire, my insanely decadent  hour-long service began with a shampoo, during which I went weak in the knees from the massage that accompanied my shampoo experience.  

The conditioning cream was then applied to my hair, section by section, and slowly, luxuriously massaged in by the stylist (who I may begin stalking on a regular basis.)  Not only was the product massaged into my scalp, but  my head, neck and shoulders were also continuously massaged with oil as I sat like jello in a chair.

Hair After Balinese Creambath #spa

With the conditioning cream still in my hair, I was placed under a steamer for about 20 minutes.  The steamer helps to infuse the cream into hair for an even deeper conditioning.  My hair was then rinsed and a tonic was applied to it. 

Believe me, ladies and gentlemen, when I tell you that had I not been looking into a mirror when I touched my hair, I would not have believed it was my hair I was touching.  It was incredibly soft and silky.  I was able to easily run my hands through my hair while wet, which is usually not a good idea given my super thick, curly textured hair. 

After blow drying my hair, not only was it soft and silky, but also wonderfully shiny and bouncy!  I now daydream about  Navia taking Amo Spa stateside and eradicating bad hair days one state at a time...a girl can dream. 

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The French Manor Inn and Spa Massage Review

Shannon Smyth
The French Manor Inn and Spa, Le Spa Foret, massage review via @agirlsgottaspa Up on Huckleberry Mountain lies an enchanting stone chateau with 20 miles of magnificent views of the northern Pocono mountains. Whether your view is of the prominent snowcapped peaks in the winter, the lush greenery in the Spring and Summer, or the spectacular colors of the Fall foilage, you are guaranteed something breathtaking even before stepping foot inside The French Manor Inn and Spa. If you long for a peaceful hideaway that is elegant, a place to simply retreat to whether you are local to the Poconos or are venturing in from out of state, you won’t be disappointed with what The French Manor has to offer. I’m blessed to live local to The French Manor, and having been previously to their Le Spa Foret for a Spa Pedicure, I know that the team here is top notch. The French Manor Inn and Spa, Le Spa Foret, massage review via @agirlsgottaspa Prior to your spa treatment, and on this day it was a Therapeutic Relaxation Massage for me, you are greeted with small, brown, glass bottles of essential oils. Every spa treatment at Le Spa Foret is completely customized to your needs and only with natural or organic products. In dire need of a floral fragrance, I chose Soft Beauty which contains jasmine and smells heavenly. The French Manor Inn and Spa, Le Spa Foret, massage review via @agirlsgottaspa The Therapeutic Relaxation Massage ($95) is a Swedish-style massage that promotes relaxation using long strokes and kneading of the superficial muscles. It was much needed, as the launch of my natural body care line has kept me at my desk long hours and feeling exhausted. Robin immediately picked up on the tension in my neck and upper back and kept much of her focus there. While I don’t typically chat too much during a massage, I found that Robin and I actually had a lot in common, so I didn’t mind the great conversation while her hands worked magic on helping to relieve the pain I was feeling in my muscles and the absolute need to relax my mind. It’s worth noting that if you love huckleberries (as I discovered I do after my trip to Idaho’s Spa Ssakwa’q'n), The French Manor offers a huckleberry candle in their spa boutique. My advice? Buy one. The sweet scent has filled my office daily and is such a pleasing fragrance. To learn more about The French Manor Inn and Spa, visit If you found this spa treatment review helpful, please Like, Share and Pin it! Subscribe to A Girl’s Gotta Spa! beauty blog. Watch our reviews on YouTube, see our pins on Pinterest and check us out on Instagram and G+. Got a Kindle? We’re on Kindle too! Disclosure: Spa treatment comped for review.

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How to Combat Seasonal Affective Disorder

Shannon Smyth4 comments
How to combat seasonal affective disorder Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD, is a type of depression that happens during the same time each year. While it can happen at any time of year, it is most often associated with Fall and Winter (you've heard the term winter blues, right?) This is due to lack of sunlight which of course results in a Vitamin D deficiency. It's getting darker sooner, which throws off your internal clock, remaining indoors due to cooler or bad weather (hello cabin fever!) and what I call a "lack of an interesting landscape"; in other words everything lacks the color, vibrancy and fragrances of the warmer months. I'm bringing this up because in the last few days I kept remarking to my husband, "I feel so tired all the time," and "I feel like I have no energy," and wanting to eat every carb in sight. Personally, nothing has changed for me to bring this on. I'm very happily married, am passionate about my career, enjoy my sons and so on. He then brought it to my attention that since the weather has gotten colder, I've been outdoors less; it's getting darker earlier, etc. And then it clicked. During the days of getting my degree in Psychology, I had learned about SAD and recognized the symptoms.


Beginning to feel the same as I am? Here is a SAD check list (as listed by the MAYO Clinic): Depression Hopelessness Anxiety Loss of energy Heavy, "leaden" feeling in the arms or legs Social withdrawal Oversleeping Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates Weight gain Difficulty concentrating While it is always recommended to talk to your doctor, there are some things you can do to help combat Seasonal Affective Disorder at home.


Seasonal Affective Disorder - tips to help at home via @agirlsgottaspa Hydro Chromotherapy: Light therapy has been used for a while to combat SAD. I love light therapy incorporated with the relaxation of water. Whereas some hydro chromotherapy systems can be very expensive, there are others that simply involve LED Showerheads that are completely affordable.  Prices do range from under $10 to upwards of $150. (Plus it may encourage your kids to actually want to bathe.) Tips to combat Seasonal Affective Disorder Aromatherapy: The power of scent can be mood altering. You know this the moment you walk into a spa, light a candle in your home or apply your favorite perfume. Bergamot, frankincense, geranium, chamomile, lavender, marjoram and citrus-derived oils are the most effective for treating SAD. There are some amazing products out there now that add essential oils to your shower head, as well. Essio uses essential oil pods that attach to your shower head. While you shouldn't attempt to wash your hair while the oils are being dispersed, it's just another great way to lift your mood (and soften your skin in the process!) You can read Gail's review of Essio for more details! Sidenote: Try A Girl's Gotta Spa! Energizing Citrus Body Wash while showering - it's made with citrus essential oils. I also love my aromatherapy diffuser from Gurunanda. I use it during the day to keep me focused and at night to help me sleep soundly. Exercise: A great way to boost serotonin and dopamine levels is with daily exercise. If you can get outside and enjoy the Fall/Winter landscape, even better, as you take in some Vitamin D in the process. Know the symptoms of seasonal depression and tips to help deal with them. Vitamin D supplements: I love Nature Made VitaMelts because they come in delicious flavors. Yum. You can take 1 tablet 4 times per day. And the Vitamin D supplement is great for bone and immune support too. Phototherapy at the spa: It's obvious, I truly believe that the spa is more than just a place of escape, but a necessity for a more balanced mind. Many spas offer phototherapy and are worth booking a treatment for!


Of course, none of this advice should be supplemented for speaking with your doctor. While I have my degree in Psychology, my tips should never trump that of a doctor. If you feel depressed in a way that is unrelated to the seasonal change, please consult a professional local to you. Have you ever suffered from SAD? What tips would you offer? Subscribe to A Girl’s Gotta Spa! Watch our reviews on YouTube, see our pins on Pinterest and check us out on Instagram.

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Spa Review: Canyon Ranch Spa Miami Beach

Gail Lewis
Receiving an invitation to visit the largest spa in South Florida (70,000 sq ft to be exact), was definitely one of the highlights of my year in Miami and it just happened to materialize when a visit to the spa was very much needed…at the tail end of the moving process when I was sore, running low on energy,  and anxious about fitting a studio apartment’s worth of stuff into a minivan to go across the U.S.  So the invitation to visit The Spa at Canyon Ranch Miami Beach was a very welcome diversion from the moving process.  As soon as I checked, in the staff was very welcoming and friendly...something that was rare during my year in Miami.  The Canyon Ranch Miami Beach property is impressive and absolutely breathtaking to say the least.  The service I received from the spa is called Yatra.  Yatra, as explained to me by my service provider, is a Sanskrit word that means journey.  The treatment  is a journey through the senses and is intended to unwind every sense, relax every nerve and melt every muscle.  My  100 minute sensory journey began with a natural rice scrub.  The scrub was gentle, but left my skin feeling uber soft and smooth.  I was then escorted to  a rose-scented, salt-infused bath where I lay soaking in bliss for about 20 minutes while also exploring a color-therapy journey. Finally, I received a gentle massage as I reclined on a therapeutic neuroauditory-sound table, where specially selected music vibrated through my body, melting away a lot of the “moving” tension.   The journey was truly incredible and each sense with the exception of taste was fully engaged and invigorated. One of my recommendations when visiting the spa is to either arrive early for your service(s) or stay later…at least an hour, to make sure you explore  Aquavana thermal suites, which will definitely enhance your spa treatment(s).  I especially enjoyed the Crystal steam room, Finnish sauna and Igloo.  The Thermal Heated Loungers also looked pretty amazing, but unfortunately I did not allow myself enough time for that experience.  I also recommend having lunch at the Canyon Ranch Grill while soaking in an amazing ocean view or taking one of the spa’s fitness classes.  The spa has a lot to offer so it’s probably best to make an entire day of your experience or better yet a very long relaxing weekend.

 *Disclosure, spa treatments were comp'ed.

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