April 24, 2009

1. Hydrate skin with honey. It's known as nature's candy. But when consumed, honey has the added health benefits of being a protective antioxidant. Applied to skin, it's a natural moisturizer, says Cornelia Zicu of New York City's Cornelia Day Resort. According to Zicu, it has been touted for centuries in Europe as a soothing balm for dry skin, which is why she relies on it as a key hydrator in her spa's signature Honey Harmony Body Treatment ($170; cornelia.com), an hour-long massage that softens skin while it relaxes muscles. You can reap the golden stuff's rewards at home with The Healing Garden Organics Wild Honey Body Scrub ($9; at drugstores), which also contains vitamin E; L'Occitane Honey Hand Cream ( 1 oz, $10; loccitane.com), a hand cream enriched with a generous concentration of 20 percent shea butter and blended with softening honey and almond extract to protect, nourish, and soften your hands; the vegetable-based Le Couvent des Minimes Extra Gentle Bath Soap Honey & Shea ($5; bbw.com); and Laura Mercier Creme Brulee Honey Bath ($40; lauramercier.com) that hydrates skin with sunflower-seed extract and glycerin.

2. Use chamomile to lighten natural blond hair. Sure, it makes a calming tea, but chamomile is also one of the top ingredients used in hair care for brightening blond locks. The next time you brew a cup, save the bag until your next shower. Then after shampooing, dampen the bag again and squeeze it through damp hair, wait a few minutes, then rinse and condition hair as usual. Your natural highlights will look super shiny. Alternatively, try a shampoo and conditioner that contain the herb's extracts, such as Pantene Blonde Expressions Shampoo and Conditioner ($6 each; at drugstores).

3. Soften lines with wine. Studies have shown that wine is rich in flavonoids. "Applied to skin, these strong antioxidants may help combat signs of aging and maintain skin's natural radiance," says Tara Oolie, owner of the Just Calm Down Spa in New York City, where they offer a pedicure, The Grape Gatsby ($80; justcalmdownspa.com), that includes a wine foot soak and grapeseed scrub. Oolie's tip: Add a few tablespoons to your bathtub to help soften skin all over. Inthe shower, try Caudalie Crushed Cabernet Scrub ($45; caudalie.com) or Erno Laszlo Active pHelityl Dual Phase Wash ($48; ernolaszlo.com), both with grapeseed extract.

4. Soothe skin with yogurt. We all know and love yogurt as a low-calorie snack that's packed with calcium, vitamin D and live bacteria cultures that can help calm a troubled tummy. But yogurt also has the power tohelp irritated skin. "Milk fats are very soothing, and cold yogurt feels good on contact," says Irina Dubinski, spa director at the Beaura Spa in Paramus, N.J. Choose full-fat over lowfat (it will offer more moisturizing power) and smooth onto bare skin. Leave on for 15 minutes then rinse with warm water. Or try skin-helpers made with milk proteins like SkinMilk Bath Bar ($5; drugstore.com).

5. Enjoy chocolate's skin benefits. For most children and adults, chocolate is the ultimate comfort food. "It's no surprise that this naturally antioxidant-rich treat is central to our most sought-after spa treatment," says Jennifer Wayland-Smith, spa director at The Spa at the Hotel Hershey in Hershey, Pa. The spa's Whipped Cocoa Bath ($45; chocolatespa.com) is a 25-minute soak in a calming, soothing chocolate milk infusion. Replicate it by sprinkling cocoa powder into your bubble bath. Or try Origins Cocoa Therapy Comforting Cream Bath ($28; origins.com), which has glycerin to hydrate parched skin; Philip B. Chocolate Milk Body Wash ($30; philipb.com) with cocoa butter and aloe; or Jaqua Chocolat Sinfully Rich Body Butter ($20; bbw.com) -- all of which smell almost as good as the real thing.

6. Use papaya for softer skin. It isn't just a popular summer fruit: Papaya is a gentle, effective skin polisher. "It offers enzymes, which are a gentle way to slough skin," explains Jenean LaRoche, spa director of the Nob Hill Spa in San Francisco, who uses papaya extracts in the spa's True Transformation Facial ($125; nobhillspa.com). To reap the benefits at home, mash up half a papaya and apply it as a face mask for 10 minutes. Or use Murad Exfoliating Fruit Enzyme Mask ($30; murad.com), which taps the fruit's same smoothing benefits. For body, we like Body Systems Papaya Hibiscus Sugar Scrub ($5 for 2 ounces; body-systems.net), which helps keep skin smooth with the help of nourishing kukui- and macadamia-nut oils.

7. Slough dry, rough skin with sesame seeds. We love them on rolls, in sushi and in hummus. And as a beauty booster, crushed sesame seeds are rich in hydrating fatty acids. Shizuka Bernstein, owner of Shizuka Spa in New York City, mixes them with olive oil in her Sakura Pedicure ($50; shizukany.com). "The hard outer parts of the seed scrub away rough skin and the oils soften it," she explains. At home, mix 2teaspoons of sesame seeds with 2 tablespoons of olive oil (or your favorite body wash) and use the same way. Another wat to snag the benefits: Massage in Neutrogena Body Oil ($10; ulta.com), made with pure sesame oil, to damp scalp. 8. Rev up your hair's radiance with baking soda. It's no secret that baking soda has seemingly a million uses around the house -- from absorbing bad odors in your fridge to cleaning pots and pans. But it can also gently cleanse hair. Try combining 1 tablespoon of it with a dose of shampoo, then lather up as usual, suggests Myrna Beardshear, spa director at Red Mountain Spa in St. George, Utah, where they use baking soda as a clarifier to rid dulling product buildup. You can also try Suave Daily Clarifying Shampoo for Normal to Oily Hair ($4; at drugstores) with baking soda already in it.

9. Deep condition with olive oil. It serves as a healthy cooking tool that benefits your heart -- and in beauty, olive oil is beneficial too, especially for hair. Steve Ellis, a spa therapist at The Spa at the Four Seasons Resort in Scottsdale, Ariz., uses the luster-booster in soothing scalp treatments like the spa's "I Love Thee Massage Treatment" ($70 for 45 minutes; fourseasons.com/scottsdale). On your own, Ellis suggests applying olive oil as a deep conditioner on clean, towel-dried locks. To help it penetrate, put on a shower cap and wrap a damp microwave-heated terry towel around it. After 20 minutes, shampoo out. Or opt for Avon Planet Spa Mediterranean Olive Oil Conditioning Hair Mask with olive oil and olive leaf extract ($6.50; avon.com).

10. Find a whole new use for that avocado pit. Okay, we know this sounds a bit odd, but when you finish eating your next avocado, save the round pit and use it as a foot roller (it really works!). "Rolling your soles over the pit gives you the benefits of a reflexology treatment because it will massage key stress-relief points," explains Michelle Hill, spa director for the Spa at Rancho Valencia in San Diego, whose Full-Body Reflexology ($125; ranchovalencia.com) is one of the spa's most-requested treatments.