With summer just around the corner, our thoughts turn to the condition of our skin. It’s the season we bare it the most, and with a pandemic forcing spas and salons to shut down for safety in recent months, many of us are missing our self-care routines that help us look our best.

Licensed esthetician Michelle Davis, owner of Essential Wellness Holistic Day Spa in Keene, says you don’t have to go to the spa – she’ll bring the luxurious revitalizing treatment to you with her Virtual Spa Room. Customers can book a virtual spa, which Davis offers via Zoom, from the comfort of home.

The do-it-yourself interactive facial workshop Davis designs specifically for the client’s skin is based on some questions she asks prior to the appointment. The focus of the virtual spa room (which is $25) is a homemade masque, which the client makes using ingredients from the kitchen, and applies, mirroring Davis who is also applying on the other side of the screen.

In addition, clients learn about layering doTerra therapeutic-grade essential oils with the at-home masque and daily moisturizer to support healthy radiant, well-balanced skin. Davis keeps the masque recipe simple, allowing clients to choose one of three items as a base: avocado, which is nourishing to the skin; honey, which is hydrating; and oatmeal, which is soothing.

Other supplies needed for the virtual spa room are things everyone keeps on-hand at home, including bowls, a pitcher, a kitchen towel, washcloth, Q-tips and cotton balls. Your normal skin care products (cleanser, toner, moisturizer, lip care) can also be incorporated as part of the virtual spa.

Certain doTerra essential oils work well incorporated into facial treatments. Frankincense and lavender, for instance, work well with all skin types; while Melaleuca helps acne-prone skin, and rose for mature skin. Yarrow/pom also helps with emotions, calming and uplifting the mind while nourishing the skin and providing benefits related to aging and overall wellness. You just need to apply two drops to your face, chest, neck and hands each morning and night.

While Davis said these oils are not required to participate, you will benefit from learning how to incorporate essential oils into your skincare routine – and all should be used sparingly as they are highly-concentrated.

Many commercial bath and body products contain fragrances and harmful chemicals that can be detrimental to your health and the environment, which is why Davis recommends making your own bath and body products to use at home with all-natural fragrances and beneficial ingredients at a fraction of the cost.

Oils can be added to a homemade foaming face wash with distilled water, baby castile soap and aloe vera gel, for example. Davis recommends this DIY body scrub recipe:

Mix equal parts refined coconut oil with pure cane sugar to a thick mashed potato consistency. Add in lavender and frankincense doTerra essential oils, or any other oils you enjoy. DO NOT use citrus oils on the skin if you will be in direct sunlight within the next 12 hours. In the summer, your scrub may be more liquid-like due to hot temperatures; simply use a spoon to mix and make the scrub thicker. In the winter, the scrub will naturally be harder due to cooler temperatures; using a spoon to scrape it out of the container can be helpful.

The skin is your largest organ, Davis explained, responsible for extracting wastes, regulating body temperature and providing a defense against bacterial, viral and other microbial “invaders.”

To keep your skin looking its best, Davis highly recommends using an exfoliant one to three times a week year-round, more in the summer and less in the winter when skin tends to be naturally drier. Exfoliating is an important part of regular skin care, she went on, because its removes buildup of old, dull skin cells, allowing the new skin cells to the surface for a more radiant glow. These new skin cells will better absorb your toner, serum and moisturizer much more efficiently and enhance all aspects of your skin care routine. In addition to exfoliation, Davis incorporates facial massage and skin moisturization during the virtual at-home spa treatment.

While Davis chose to temporarily close her spa in the wake of the pandemic, others, including Ellen Smith, are following state protocols and have opened their businesses this month. Smith, owner of European Esthetics in Peterborough, re-opened June 3 after a temporary shutdown and is operating under limited hours. The good news is she is offering spa manicures and pedicures along with her other on-site treatments, including brow waxes as well as lash and brow tinting.

“The whole spa focuses on a holistic approach,” she said. “We don’t use harsh chemicals or treatments.”

The spa pedicure, a one-hour service, includes an herbal soak in a clay basin, scrub, nail and cuticle care, callus softening, massage, and of course, buff and polish application. The clay basin has been sterilized according to CDC guidelines.

“It doesn’t harbor bacteria,” Smith said.

She added that lash tinting is a nice alternative to wearing makeup in the summer. The treatment lasts three to four weeks. Hair removal via waxing is another popular service Smith’s spa offers.

“We use a botanical product that adheres to the hair and not the skin,” she said. “It’s antimicrobial and antibacterial.”

Dr. Hauschka and Beautycounter are the skin care brands staff use (and sell) at the spa.

“There’s no ingredients in these products that will upset your health,” Smith added.

A spa manicure includes a soaking, cuticle care, massage and polish application, or you can have a gel polish manicure for a few more dollars.

“We don’t do acrylic [nails] and we don’t use a drill for manicures,” Smith said, adding that her spa uses LED vs. UV-light nail dryers. “It’s not damaging to the nail.”

Of course, health safety is paramount at European Esthetics, which is why Smith and her staff wear a mask and gloves during treatments.

As far as at-home care between treatments, Smith urges the use of sunscreen that blocks not only UVA and UVB light but also blue light from electronic screens. Just choose a sunscreen that has large non-nano zinc particles that won’t absorb into your skin or harm the environment – Badger Healthy Body Care in Gilsum carries such a sun protection product.

Smith is happy to offer education on skin and beauty products with non-toxic ingredients and the ingredients themselves. Consumers can also visit a free database on the Environmental Working Group site (ewg.org) that rates products for safety, from 1 being most safe to 10 being least safe.

“I want to source where [a product] is from and how it’s processed,” Smith said. “I want to work with transparent companies that have a conscious mind.”