It's hot. You're feeling tired and overworked. What you need is a spa vacation. But with one week at an exclusive spa costing upward of $2,500, it's not in the budget.
Two spa books, some new products and a new idea for a medicine cabinet standby may be just the thing to make you feel as though you've spent a fortnight at the Golden Door or some other top-shelf spa:
* "Four Seasons of Inner Beauty and Outer Beauty" by Peggy Wynne Borgman (Broadway Books, 246 pages, $17.95). Written by the co-founder and director of the Preston Wynne Spa in Saratoga, Calif., this book promotes a year-round approach to health and beauty in harmony with the Earth's seasons. Borgman presents meditations, workout routines, skin care treatments and pampering practices designed to "align us with the energies of the season." In spring, look for practices that reflect fresh starts, such as a detoxifying seaweed bath or growth-encouraging shouting. Summer marks a time of high energy with body-contouring self-massage and a cooling tea bath.
* "Well Being: Rejuvenating Recipes for Body and Soul" by Barbara Close (Chronicle Books, 167 pages, $18.95). This attractively photographed book features recipes for aromatherapy, herbalism and massage that combine nature's ingredients to "nurture the body and pamper the spirit." Arranged to address particular needs that arise during each change of season, these recipes require a pantry of herbs and oils ranging from the basic (rosemary leaves) to the more unusual (dried skullcap). The author, an aromatherapist and owner of Naturopathica, a holistic spa in East Hampton, N.Y., does an excellent job of making the book fun to read, even if you have no intention of ever mixing up a batch of Healing Root Salad.
A treat for the feet
It softens skin, removes makeup and helps prevent diaper rash. But did you know that Vaseline Petroleum Jelly could be used in a variety of recipes for home beauty treatments? Vaseline's ability to lock in moisture makes it a natural for soothers and scrubs. Experts from exclusive spas developed "spa in a jar" recipes that you can make at home. Here's one we liked:
The Golden Door Foot Scrub
From the Golden Door in Telluride, Colo.
1/4 cup Vaseline Petroleum Jelly
1/4 cup Epsom or sea salt
2 to 4 drops any kind of essential oil
Fill bathtub with warm water.
Briefly warm the Vaseline in a bowl. (A double boiler is best. Do not microwave petroleum jelly.) Test mixture to make sure it is not too hot.
In a larger bowl, mix salt with essential oil. Add warm petroleum jelly to mixture and mix well. Soak feet in the tub for 10 to 15 minutes. This will soothe and soften feet in preparation.
Apply scrub vigorously. Finish exfoliation with a steamed cloth scented with your favorite essential oil.
Make a fresh batch of foot scrub for each use.
Comfort is all wrapped up
Seaweed wraps, aromatherapy and sea salt scrubs may seem like a special occasionindulgence, but at $3.99, Soft Sense Botanical Moisturizing Lotions are inexpensive enough to lavish on daily. Try either Sunberry Garden with Ripened Raspberry and Vitamin E or Healing Herbal with Echinacea and Aloe. Available at food, drug and discount stores.
Healing waters from Italy
The mineral water in the baths at Salsomaggiore Spa in Italy has been credited with everything from melting Miss Italy's cellulite to curing Sophia Loren's alleged infertility. The water's natural salt density -- which is three times greater than that of the Dead Sea -- is purportedly the highest in the world. If you can't get to Italy, you can try Terme di Salsomaggiore, the spa's new line of face and body products that contain its unique waters. Products range from Thermal Fruit Acid #10, to reduce wrinkles, to Anti-Cellulite Herbal Bath, bath salts and herbs that supposedly reduce dimply skin.
To order, call Henri Bendel New York at 800-781-2490.