What is Lava Shell massage?

May 22 2013

Shy Spy

3 min read

Lava shells

Lava Shell massage is a type of heat treatment that uses Tiger Clam shells as a massage tool. The clams have been harvested for food in the Philippines for hundreds of years. The shells used to be thrown away, but are now being recycled and used for Lava Shell massage - making this a great eco-friendly spa treatment. This tranquil massage uses the world’s first self-heating massage tool and the heat is produced by inserting a ‘lava gel sachet’ and ‘activator liquid’ into the shell. 

What is a Lava Shell massage good for?

Lava Shells massage is greatly enjoyable for anyone with tense muscles, as the heat from the Lava Shells will gently relax and smooth away knots. The Lava Shells owe their magic to a mix of minerals including dried sea kelp, dead seasalt, algae and essential oils. The heated shells also give off calcium ions, which transfers to your skin during the massage. Calcium can help to firm and regenerate the skin - a nice bonus.

An alternative to the popular hot stone massage spa treatment, the Lava Shell can radiate heat for up to an hour, allowing your therapist to provide a continuous and seamless warm full body massage.

Lava Shell massage can:

  • boost circulation of blood and lymph
  • soothe aches and pains
  • reduce swelling and water retention
  • relax you.

What to expect from a Lava Shell massage

Lava shells are heated by single-use disposable sachets. The therapist inserts a sachet of algae, minerals and dried sea kelp into the shell, then adds an activator liquid. The chemical reaction between the activator and the "lava gel" sachet creates heat that can last up to a couple of hours.

Your therapist will begin the treatment with an application of massage oil to help make the strokes smoother. She will then press the heated Lava Shells onto key points of your body to relax your muscles, before using the smooth part of the shells to massage your torso and limbs using slow deep moves. 

The therapist can use different areas of the Lava Shells to complement particular massage strokes. The knob on the back of the shell can be used to work away at tight knots. The smooth surface of the shell is ideal for applying gentle pressure to calves and arms, and you might feel the therapist using the narrow edge of the Lava Shell to work around tense shoulder blades or between your toes.

Read our review of a Lava Shell treatment at the Mandarin Oriental Spa.

Different types of Lava Shell massage

Lava Shells can also be filled with sachets of cooling gel that chills the shells. Smaller Lava Shells are used in facial treatments. The range of treatments include:

  • Lava Shells Therma Facial Treatment. Smaller facial shells made of a blend of porcelain and crushed sea shells are used to massage the face, neck and décolleté to boost circulation and tone the muscles, leaving your skin feeling firmer and looking more radiant.
  • Lava Shells Glacial Detox Massage. One heated Lava Shell and two chilled Glacial Shells are used to massage the stomach and legs using long, flowing movements. The contrasting temperatures make the blood vessels expand and contract, stimulating circulation. The massage can also help boost the lymphatic system and help reduce water retention and bloating.
  • Lava Shells Rescue Massage. Lava Shells and Glacial Shells are used in combination to treat more general muscle aches and pains.
  • Lava Shells Sports Massage. Lava Shells and Glacial Shells are used to ease aches and stiffness, to reduce swelling and accelerate healing, and to aid mobility.

Hot tip!

Ask your Lava Shell therapist for some tips on self-massage and you can try this idyllic treatment at home. You can buy a Lava Shells homecare kit online, or from many spas that offer Lava Shell treatments. The kit contains one Lava Shell with four sachets and four applications of massage oil, and an instruction manual on how to prepare your shells.

This article was updated in November 2018


Shy Spy

22nd May 2013

Spy Likes:

Instant results; jasmine and frangipani scents; hot steam rooms; a good selection of magazines; modernist decor.

Spy Dislikes:

Whale noises (on CD, not in the pool hopefully); hard massage beds; tiny toilet cubicles; being spoken to like a child; lukewarm pools.

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