Relax & Renew
Facials are the second-most common spa service, behind massage treatments. It turns out that making the time for this spa indulgence is actually really good for you, too. During a facial treatment, the dirt and dead skin on your face will be exfoliated away — resulting in healthier skin that looks great. The benefits of a facial last long after the initial treatment. With your freshest face forward, the other products you use on a daily basis for your skin like moisturizers will be better absorbed and will keep your skin looking healthy long after the facial takes place.
The first step in a professional-level facial is a skin consultation. This is a good time to bring up any known skin irritations. The facial professional (most often an aesthetician) will analyze the face through a special magnifying lamp to determine what issues the skin is experiencing and to help develop the best treatment course. Steam, exfoliation and extractions of blemishes are all part of the treatment, too. A facial massage and facial mask are also part of the process, followed by a final application of products intended to keep the skin looking fresh and blemish-free for the long term.
People who are serious about rejuvenating the skin on their face should get facials once per month, or four times per year at a minimum.
Sources: livestrong.com, spas.about.com
Reflexology is a form of massage therapy that targets zones of the body through specific massage points on the hands and feet. Reflexologists divide the body into 10 equal zones (five on the left, five on the right) and target areas of pain or tension that coordinate with points on hands or feet, or both. Practitioners believe that by applying pressure to specific reflex areas, energetic pathways are created that promote organ health, among other benefits.
In studies funded by the National Cancer Institute and the National Institutes of Health, reflexology was found to be effective in enhancing relaxation, aiding in healthy sleep habits and minimizing the damaging effects of anxiety and depression. A study published in Nursing Standard that followed 87 cancer patients also found that reflexology helped manage the side effects of the disease and treatment, including relief of pain, nausea, diarrhea or constipation. The patients also reported feeling a higher quality of life.
So what can you expect at a typical reflexology treatment? They usually last from 45 minutes to an hour and should never hurt. A reflexologist will begin by assessing where you are feeling pain or discomfort and then have you take off your shoes and socks, and sit in a comfortable reclining chair for the duration of the session. Most people leave reflexology treatments feeling completely relaxed.
Sources: cancer.org, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
As skin ages, the rejuvenation process slows down, which can lead to a dull and dry skin appearance. Exfoliation can speed up this process by removing dead skin cells and allowing the new skin to emerge more quickly than waiting for the natural process. Professional salt and sugar scrubs are ways to exfoliate and expose the healthy, new skin underneath. Both processes can be applied nearly everywhere on the body, but are most common on the face, hands and feet. If you are looking for more of a relaxation experience, a sugar scrub is the best option. For deeper exfoliation, a salt scrub is ideal.
When created with salts from the Dead Sea, salt scrubs contain as many as 80 minerals to benefit the skin. Epsom salts used in scrub treatments have been proven to flush toxins and reduce inflammation of the skin. Salt scrubs have also been found to have antiseptic properties and can fight against infections, and itching.
Seek a sugar scrub if:
- You have sensitive skin. They are less abrasive than salt scrubs.
- It is your first time trying either method. Sugar scrubs are softer on the skin.
Seek a salt scrub if:
- You have acne or blemishes. The salt absorbs oil well.
- You want to treat skin problems like eczema or psoriasis.
- You are looking for pain relief from inflammation.
Since ancient times, mud or clay applied to the skin has been used to treat a variety of ailments — from dry skin to gastrointestinal issues. Today, natural mud treatments, called mud packs, continue to have many therapeutic purposes. Some mud pack treatments are cosmetic — like to tighten skin and soften wrinkles and lines. Detoxification and circulation are two other reasons people seek out professional mud pack treatments.
Mud therapy has also been proven to reduce skin inflammation and bring relief to stiff joints. Some headache therapies call for a mud pack band around the forehead for pain relief. Some people even report healing or reduction of scars and puncture wounds, and a reduction in stress, after a professional mud pack treatment.
So what is the secret to the healing powers of mud packs? Their strength lies in high-mineral materials from around the world. Mud packs commonly include mud from the Dead Sea that is mineral-rich with magnesium, bromide, silicates and calcium.
Mud packs are commonly used around the eyes, overall on the face and on the abdomen. A mud pack consists of a thin, muslin cloth with the mud inside that is applied to the affected area for 20 to 30 minutes.
Neuromuscular Therapy Massage
For a more concentrated approach to massage therapy to specifically relieve pain, seek out a neuromuscular therapy massage. This particular type of massage, also known as trigger point myotherapy, is recognized by the American Academy of Pain Management as a treatment for back pain from muscle strain or other soft tissue injuries. It can also be used on other parts of the body, including the head, jaw and legs. Practitioners of neuromuscular massage therapy use knuckles, fingers or elbows to apply alternating pressure for anywhere from 10 to 30 seconds in the areas of pain.
Neuromuscular therapy works, in part, by increasing blood flow at the area of pain and encouraging the muscle to let go of built up lactic acid through relaxation. When lactic acid is reduced, more oxygen floods the muscle and causes soreness to dissipate. Understandably, at the beginning of a neuromuscular therapy massage, you may experience tenderness at the site of the pain but this should lessen as the massage goes on. It’s recommended to keep the massage practitioner informed of your level of pain throughout the procedure, so he or she can adjust to make you more comfortable. A professional neuromuscular massage therapist will not just encourage immediate healing, but will work to retrain the muscle to prevent future injuries.
Sources: beaumont.edu, spine-health.com