What felt like a very long April is now over. But it may have left you feeling run down, or at least pretty fed up, as we head towards a sixth week in lockdown.
It’s not surprising either. Many of us are juggling between working from home, parenting and homeschooling, or sustaining a job on the front line, or caring for someone who is vulnerable, all of which means it can be difficult to relax in these trying times.
Treating yourself to a pamper session at the weekend – or any day, for that matter – is one way to perk up your mood and leave you feeling a little less on edge.
Whether it’s lighting a new candle and cosying up with a book or putting on a face mask and giving yourself a manicure, create your own little spa at home.
It needn’t be time-consuming or complicated either, here are some ideas to help you wind down at the end of another week in lockdown.
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Set the scene
While heated pools and massage tables aren’t possible, lighting a candle like this Jo Malone London orange blossom candle (Jo Malone London, £51) can make all the difference in lifting your mood.
We’d recommend saving it for the weekends to ensure using it still feels special and to prolong its life. Every time you do light it, you can enjoy the scents of water lily, clementine flower and balsamic vetiver while catching up on the new Normal People series by the BBC, adapted from Sally Rooney’s best-selling novel.
Unwind with skincare
While a face mask won’t solve all your problems, as much as we wish it could, having a glowing complexion will certainly make you feel better. We’ll be reaching for the Charlotte Tilbury goddess skin clay mask (John Lewis & Partners, £38).
The clay mask is luxuriously soft, creamy and smells delightfully spa-like, with a blend of Spanish clay, sweet almond oil and vitamin c that delivered instant radiant results as the winner of our IndyBest review of face masks.
It’s not cheap (none of Tilbury’s products are), but it’s worth every penny and lasts longer than you think it will.
Next up, it’s a bath. Run one and fill with a rich bath oil like Sister & Co rosa bath soak (Sister & Co, £20) that’s scented with jasmine, geranium, grapefruit and almond oils. It’ll leave skin feeling silky soft and is housed in a sturdy glass jar that can be easily recycled once you’ve got down to the very last drop.
Once you’ve dried off and washed your face mask off, treat yourself to a facial massage, which according to celebrity aesthetician, Nichola Joss – who counts Meghan Markle, Gisele Bundchen and Kate Moss as fans – will remove tension and stress from muscle tissue, plump and hydrate the skin and stimulates blood circulation.
Take a few drops of the Elemis superfood facial oil (Elemis, £45) and a gua sha like the Hayo’u beauty restorer facial massage tool (FaceGym, £38).
A gua sha is a small round-edged flat jade tool that has a history based in Chinese philosophy and medicine. “The philosophy is that gemstones can support our jing qi (life essence), blood (circulation) and fluids (lymphatic drainage),“ says Katie Brindle, founder of the beauty brand, Hay’ou Method.
Use the rounded-edge of the tool and press it gently all over your face, neck and décolletage for a minute. Don’t forget to press and hold the tool under and over closed eyes, press and stroke it down your neck to drain excess fluid from the lymph glands too.
Give yourself a mani-pedi
With a trip to your favourite nail salon no longer an option, you can recreate it yourself at home.
If you want to add a pop of colour to your hands and toes without compromising on ethics, try a vegan nail polish from a fully vegan brand like Peacći, which is featured in our round-up of the best vegan nail polishes.
While there are more than 130 polishes in the collection, ranging from neon hues to glitters, our favourite is the bright and beautiful coral hue “sunshine” (Peacći, £10) a perfect summer shade, even if it’s only you who sees it.
It’s highly pigmented so you can get away with just one coat if you don’t have the patience to wait for multiple coats to dry and the wide brush makes application easy.
However, if you’re seeking the glossy, long-lasting finish that a Shellac manicure offers, try the Mylee complete professional gel nail polish LED lamp kit (Amazon, £99) which came out top in our IndyBest review of at-home gel nails kits if you’re looking to try it yourself.
It comes with four Bluesky gel polishes (nude, pink, red and black), a top coat, base coat, LED lamp, remover, lint-free wipes to clean nail and a prep and wipe fluid to sanitise nails and aid the adhesion of the gel colour to your nail.
With easy-to-follow instructions, and a simple to use LED lamp that has three timer settings – 15, 30 and 60 seconds – and enough space to fit all five fingers in at once, it’s a speedy process to give yourself a mini salon treatment at your desk.
And once your manicure has run its course, read our guide to safely removing Shellac.
Download a mindfulness app
You may well be sick of screen time as you balance working from home, Zoom drinks and catchups with friends over Houseparty but we’d recommend a mindfulness app to help you switch off and unwind, particularly if you’re feeling anxious.
The Calm app is ideal for its varied options to help you relax, from sounds like rolling waves, pouring rain or crackling firewood, which topped our IndyBest review of mindfulness apps.
There’s guided Daily Calm sessions for intermediate and advanced users or Sleep Stories – calming tales narrated by celebrities including Stephen Fry and Matthew McConaughey that will help you drift off. Download it here for iOS and here for Android.
It costs £28.99 for an annual subscription that lasts the whole year, which equates to just under £2.50 a month.
Just Breathe is a free alternative that offers guided meditation with a teacher, music or timer in two, eight or 20-minute sessions. It’s simple to use, easy-to-follow and won’t take long before it becomes a ritual in your routine. Download it here for iOS and here for Android.
If you’re struggling to feel rested or get a good night’s sleep, we found the REN & now to sleep pillow spray (Ren, £19), with its blend of lavender frankincense and cedarwood spritzed onto a pillowcase helpful to ensure you drift off quickly and wake up feeling refreshed.
Read our guide on how to remove gel and acrylic nails and how to keep your brows in check
IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.