Dry winter air is tough on skin, nails and hair.

Even if you are drinking plenty of water, non-caffeinated tea and otherwise keeping hydrated, the dry and flakies can creep up on you. The best way to stay dewy (or at least less dry) is to seal moisture in, not just add it later. Like many things in life, the key is prevention, and natural ingredients like sesame and coconut oils, avocado, honey and nut butters are the ingredients that will protect your body and hair.

Taking an hour or two in the middle of winter to fortify and lock in that moisture can keep you from losing the battle against moisture-sucking air.

BEAUTY TIPS: Skin and hair care from the fridge

While a full day at your local spa will run at least a couple hundred dollars, you can find most spa-type products at your local health food store (or make your own with the links provided) for a lot less — and you'll have plenty for next time. Because once you do a spa night — or afternoon — at home once, you'll definitely want to do it again.

fluffy towelsSpa day starts with some big, fluffy towels. (Photo: elegeyda/Shutterstock)

Prepare. A good spa experience takes a bit of planning: Make sure you have several fluffy towels, a good warm (and ideally absorbent) robe, thick cotton or wool socks and something to wrap your goopy hair in (that you don't mind possibly discoloring). Get your face mask and hair mask prepared, as well as your body oil (see details below).

Cleanse. Take a warm shower and scrub down. Wash your hair and body first, so you start off clean. Then, while still naked in the warm shower room (I stand in the tub), vigorously rub the body oil into the skin of your whole body (yes, before you have dried off). The faster you apply a body oil, the more moisture gets locked into your skin. Once you have coated your body (everything but your face), shake off excess water and gently pat water off with a towel (don't rub, as your skin will still be absorbing the oil). Immediately wrap yourself in your robe and slip on the socks.

Revive. Next, apply the hair mask, being sure to work it through all your hair, then wrap it in a towel. Lastly, follow with the face mask.

Relax. Go somewhere relaxing in your home (a favorite chair or maybe your bed) and keep as warm and quiet as possible. Don't look at a phone or computer screen. Meditating or reading are good things to "do" while you are chilling out and will allow all the great ingredients to their work. You could also give yourself a shoulder massage, or rub your feet with almond oil while you wait.

woman taking a showerRinse your hair and wash off your face mask. Water should run right off your skin. (Photo: Glaze Image/Shutterstock)
Rinse. After 20-25 minutes of relaxing, hit the shower again, and rinse out your hair and wash off your face mask. Give your hair, especially, a good water wash, but don't shampoo again unless the package directions indicate you should (or you have made a hair mask with raw eggs). Don't scrub your body again, but notice that after your oil application, water runs right off your skin (this is a sign that you have sealed that good moisture from earlier in).

Finalize. Be sure to follow your face mask with a good moisturizer, and if you can, get to bed or watch a movie, and keep the relaxation going.

DIY or buy

A good hair mask is an oft-overlooked component of a good spa night; my faves are by LUSH and Bioselect (with organic ingredients). But of course, fun, inexpensive hair masks can be made easily at home with ingredients you might even have sitting around. Here are four luscious hair masks you can make yourself.

Face masks are easy to find in the natural food store (I use Pangea Organics, Kiss My Face or Weleda's Wild Rose Intensive Mask), or make your own with honey-based face masks for all skin types and one-ingredient masks when you need something easy.

A spa-level body oil is a must in the winter, and will save you from slathering on layer after layer of cream. Look for pure, organic sesame or almond oil and add your own essential oils, or Dr. Hauschka makes a whole line for various skin types.

Starre Vartan ( @ecochickie ) covers conscious consumption, health and science as she travels the world exploring new cultures and ideas.

Take a natural winter spa break
Moisturize, relax and revive with these home spa treatments.