By Felissa Benjamin

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No time for the spa? No problem. Step into the world of Akhassa, the DIY home spa collections easy enough for any novice, fast enough for any go-getter and relaxing enough for even the most stressed out (trust me!).

Out of the four home spas – Ignite, Retreat, Define and Nurture – I grabbed up Ignite, hoping to perk up my drooping energy levels without a shot of caffeine. Created by two sisters, Lisa and Roslyn Gillespie with an Asian background, Akhassa is a beauty care line based on natural remedies and traditional Asian holistic therapies.

Immediately, I could tell the body oil, bath oil, lotion, cream, body scrub and bath tea and soap were natural. I felt like I was walking into an apothecary’s shop. The lotion and cream smelled sweet, like licorice without being overpowering – the perfect combination. Even the spa box had a spicy aroma, like something you would use for cooking.

I started with the Sweet Orange Body Oil. Normally, I hate body oil, not wanting to feel greased up. But this light lotion immediately soaked into my skin leaving it glowing instead of greasy. I enjoyed the smell also, a little bit tart thanks to the added lime. And with plenty of vitamins (C, B1, B2, B6 and more) I not only look good but am fortifying my skin as well.

It’s the summer and I would lie if I said my skin is perpetually smooth. Instead it’s scaly and dry. (But it’s like that in the winter also). This is why I am madly, deeply in love with body lotions. The Tangerine Leaf Body Lotion reminded me of my dad and his love of black licorice. Even just the smell perked me up – spicy and a little bit peppery. Apparently tangerines are good for your circulation and fluid retention so I applied the lotion to my scaly parts and pretty much everywhere else I could reach. The light lotion left me feeling moisturized and smelling delicious.

Next I hopped into the shower to check out the Holy Basil Shower Cream, which smelled exactly like the perfect Thai dish. I don’t cook but if I did, I would season everything with basil because it smells so fresh. The shower cream is perfect to help you wake up on those I-can’t-open-my-eyes mornings. And for the stressed out in this group, sweet basil relieves anxiety, stress and depression – the trifecta!

Finally and since there isn’t a water shortage in New York, I scrubbed down with the Galangal Body Scrub. I had no idea what galangal is (and if you do, well done) but it’s a member of the ginger family and is excellent at stimulating circulation. Again, I felt my eyes open a little wider (and my sinuses clear) at the exotic smell. But at the end of the shower my skin felt smoother and softer.

Since I live in a New York City apartment with a New York City bathtub, I didn’t get a chance to use the bath oil or bath tea but both smelled amazing. The bath tea especially reminded exotic places with dried lemongrass and ginger powder. Plus, it relieves tissue problems and stress-related problems as well.

For a chance to enjoy your own DIY spa experience go to

Originally published August 2006
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