Abhyangam, which translates as "oil massage", is a massage therapy originating from the ancient Indian holistic medical system, Ayurveda. This massage uses herbal oils chosen to suit your body's constitution and seasonal needs. Abhyangam aims to soothe aches and pains and bring balance to the mind and body, to help you feel more grounded and relaxed.
In a nutshell, acupressure is acupuncture without the needles. This therapy uses finger-tip pressure at strategic points along your meridians, which is said to remove blockages and improve the flow of energy around your body.
Good for: Migraine; muscular and joint pain; overcoming addictions; weight loss
A general term for spa treatments that involve algae, seaweed or other marine ingredients. These might be slathered onto or around your face and body, or added to a bath or pool. It’s not a medical treatment but the algae, when activated and absorbed by the skin, is said to have healing properties. The most common type of treatment involves wraps and scrubs followed by a massage. It doesn’t necessarily smell all that great.
Good for: Sweating out toxins; improving the tone of skin; refreshing; relaxation
The French company was founded in 1986 by Madame Anne Sémonin who developed a series of treatments representing a personal and holistic approach to beauty. In 2003, Parisian Aline Marcadet took the helm and has been the driving force of the brand ever since. A Sorbonne graduate with a passion for the arts, Aline formed Anne Sémonin’s image as an “Haute Couture” spa and beauty brand. Aline also maintains the original Anne Sémonin ethos of made-to-measure treatments to cater for each woman’s unique beauty needs.
The product range is extensive, as you would expect from a company which uses ‘tailorable’ as a key word, and takes into consideration a person's lifestyle, hormones, age and environment. The products are developed in collaboration with top French laboratories and address facial skincare and body treats. Treatments use an Energetic Drainage massage: essential oils, minerals and marine active ingredients to detoxify and help prevent ageing.
They say: “At Anne Sémonin, we believe that a woman’s beauty, just like her experience in life, is unique.”
We say: A high-end, quality brand that delivers great results across the product lines. The Express Radiance Ice Cubes are a miracle worker if you’ve been burning the candle at both ends, and the Exfoliating Mask is effective for oily skin. Claim a piece of Parisian chic in your skincare routine.
Hero products: Skin Protector SPF 30 Primer (30ml, £30), Pre Cleanse and Make-up Remover (150ml, £30), Radiance Serum (30ml, £45), all available from: www.arkskincare.com
Standout treatments: SkinResponse Facial (80 minutes, £75) and iPosture Facial Massage (60 minutes, £60) at ARK Flagship Spa, London.
Ark Skincare was created as an age-positive skincare line designed for different ages and skin concerns. The three age-specific ranges are for teens and 20s, 30s and 40s, and over 50s. Products come under the headings ‘skinessentials’ (daily must-haves) and ‘skinperfectors’ (targeted treatments).
The products are made in Britain in small batches and are free from lanolin, mineral oil, artificial colours and fragrances, formaldehyde, sodium lauryl esther sulphate and parabens. Products are not tested on animals, and the company is committed to never doing so. Even the packaging is carefully thought out – it uses airless technology so that each pump dispenses the right amount of product.
They say: “ARK Skincare is a British skincare brand that treats skin by age and skin concern using active natural ingredients. The result is a highly-effective, personalised skin treatment regime for every individual.”
We say: Any brand that simplifies skincare and promotes positive ageing is a winner in our book. The products are predominantly results driven and the sleek, smart packaging looks the part. We loved the radiance serum – it gave Scarlet Spy’s skin a serious glow.
Aromatherapy uses warm essential oils. The oils are massaged into your skin, dropped into water for you to bathe in, or blended with other oils or steam for you to inhale. The powerful oils used in aromatherapy are extracted from plants, shrubs, flowers, bark, peel, resin, grasses, fruits, roots, trees, petals, stems or seeds... Read more >
Good for: Stress; anxiety; sleeplessness; mood swings
Hero products: Nourishing Facial Oil (15ml, £45), Overnight Repair Mask (50ml, £62), Relax Deep Bath and Shower Oil (55ml, £45) available from: www.aromatherapyassociates.com
Aromatherapy Associates was founded in 1985 by Sue Beechey and Geraldine Howard, aromatherapists who trained and practised at the Micheline Arcier clinic in Knightsbridge. They felt that a professional brand was needed to support aromatherapy treatments in spas, as such a concept was lacking at the time. Over the past 30 years, the product range has grown to encompass facial skincare, body and bath, home ambience and a men’s range from The Refinery.
Aromatherapy Associates products are made in the UK using natural plants and herbs that have been ethically sourced from around the world. They are against animal testing, screen out chemicals such as parabens and GM crops, and believe every ingredient has a role to play, using bases such as Damask rose water instead of plain water.
They say: “It is our mission to share with people the amazing results we have seen and experienced through using essential oils in our products and treatments over the last 30 years, and to practice real aromatherapy.”
We say: The Aromatherapy Associates products we’ve tested were as gorgeously scented, as you would hope from a dedicated aromatherapy range! The products work really well on sensitive skin, dry skin and normal skin. A unanimous thumbs-up for Aromatherapy Associates from The Spa Spies™.
An ancient Hindu practice based on the idea that the body, mind and spirit must be treated together. The treatment is personalised to suit your ‘dosha’ or body type. Every human being has a unique blend of energies and therefore a different dosha. The dosha is made up of three elements: ‘vata’ – blood, circulation and healing; ‘pitta’ – heat and metabolism; ‘kapha’ – your spiritual and philosophical make-up... Read more >
Good for: Detoxing; cleansing; boosting the immune system; making changes to lifestyle
Babor was founded in 1955 by German biochemist Dr Michael Babor. The company started with one product, HY-ÖL, and has dramatically expanded with ranges for facial skincare, body care, make up, sun care and a range for men. Babor has an interdisciplinary team, including researchers, dermatologists, biochemists, physicians and geneticists, to bring new products and treatments to market.
Sustainability and ethics play a central part in the company ethos: Babor say they do not (and will not) conduct animal testing. They also ship products in a carbon-neutral way – good for your skincare and good for your conscience.
Babor has won 15 international skincare awards over the past five years and we can see why: this is a brand supported by science, but with green credentials.
They say: “Since the very beginning, we have set our standard by achieving a lasting, healthy skin tone to the satisfaction of our customers.”
We say: The packaging is very basic, giving you no clue about the incredible products on the inside. The HY-ÖL and Enzyme Cleanser are used in tandem and get the skin seriously clean without stripping your natural oils. One of our most experienced Spa Spies uses them and is extremely impressed with the results, which are instant and will leave you with clear skin for days.
A traditional Indonesian treatment, originally used at the end of a hard working day to ease muscle aches, this therapy combines an invigorating scrub with a wrap and a massage. The scrub is made from warming hand-crushed spices such as sandalwood, ginger, cinnamon and turmeric. The granular paste is rubbed onto the skin to boost circulation, and is left on the skin while your body is wrapped in towels or cloth, generating heat that soothes your body. After you've showered off the paste, your therapist will massage on a body oil or balm.
Balinese massage uses a combination of gentle stretches, acupressure and aromatherapy oils to stimulate the flow of blood, oxygen and ‘Qi’ around your body. It’s good for strained muscles and joint pain and boosting circulation... Read more >
Good for: Strained muscles and joint pain; boosting circulation; sleep problems
A fancy term for a warm mineral bath. The body is massaged by strong jets of hot and cold water.
Good for: Boosting circulation; cleansing the skin; soothing tired limbs
Hero products: Geranium Body Cream (200ml, £38), Botanic Sugar Polish (200ml, £35), One Morning Body Splash (245ml, £75), all available from: www.bamford.co.uk
Standout treatments: Jade Hot and Cold Stone Treatment (75 minutes, £110) at Bamford Haybarn, Gloucestershire. Bamford Body Signature Treatment (120 minutes, £155) at Herb House Spa at Lime Wood, Hampshire. Deep Tissue Massage (55 minutes, £135) at The Berkeley, London.
The British clothing and beauty brand Bamford was born from the founder’s passion for sustainable and holistic living. Lady Carole Bamford’s family manage organic farms in Staffordshire and Gloucestershire, along with several farm-shops and cafes — you may have encountered Daylesford Organics in Selfridges Food Hall. Lady Bamford launched the high-end Bamford brand in 2006.
The beauty range centres around soaps, body washes and bath oils formulated with high quality, mainly natural ingredients. Bamford operates three Haybarn spas, including their new opening in Miami, The Berkeley in London and the original Bamford Haybarn Daylesford; a haven of holistic living from the food, treatments, products and clothing range.
They say: "Bamford is simply how we think life should be – good, beautiful and inspiring.”
We say: We love the classy packaging and green credentials. The products we have tried had a sumptuously herby aroma that we found quite addictive and uplifting, just like being in a high-end, trendy spa or a Notting Hill yoga studio. The products felt luxuriously rich and silky on the skin, while there’s something straightforward, fresh and honest about them too.
A Russian bath house which traditionally encompasses a steam room, a washing room and entrance room. Banya temperatures will often exceed 90 degrees Celsius and special felt hats are worn to protect the head from such intense heat.
If you are having a banya bathing ritual you’ll enter the very hot steam room, lay down and your ‘banschik’, bath attendant, will lightly whip you with ‘banny venik’ (bunches of twigs), often eucalyptus, birch or oak, dipped in water. In Russian outdoor banyas, you would roll around in the snow or dive into the river to cool down, but in traditional indoor banyas, you may have a plunge pool or ice bucket to drastically reduce your body heat.
Good for: Circulation; boosting immune system and metabolism; releasing serotonin or happy hormones
A bundle of twigs attached to a long handle. This broom-like tool is usually made of aromatic wood such as birch, lime or juniper, and is used in traditional bath-house treatments from Russia and Eastern Europe. Besoms are steamed to release a therapeutic vapour, and are often used for a stimulating massage.
Standout treatments: Triple Lift Facial (60 minutes, £140) and PSO Full Body Exfoliation (60 minutes, £80) both at Santai Spa, Birmingham.
Biologique Recherché was founded à Paris in 1976 by three members of the Allouche family – a biologist, a physiotherapist and a doctor. They weren’t impressed with the professional products on the market at the time so decided to take a clinical approach to beauty using pure, concentrated ingredients with meticulous protocols and procedures.
Today, the range of products is built on a belief that as our skin changes from day-to-day it is more complex than just one type. The Biologique Recherché method requires a diagnosis of your Skin Instant® taking into account skin type and a range of external factors. Your skin will then be prepared and treated with a tailored range of products.
They say: “Authenticity and harmony is the spirit and essence behind our skin care products. Our skin is never idle in the course of one’s day or one’s life; it’s our duty to understand the skin’s messages and to perpetually adjust how we treat it.”
We say: Biologique Recherché (BR) is for the serious skincare devotee. The French are known for their no-frills, highly-effective skincare and the Alloche family has taken this to a new level. With products offering powerful, immediate results, it’s well worth investing in some personalised skincare. And it’s easy to see why the P50 lotion has become a cult classic.
A light version of a classical Finnish sauna, this is a thermal room heated to a more moderate temperature (about 40 to 55°C) and a higher humidity (45 to 60%) than a regular sauna.
A blanket term for a whole range of holistic procedures aimed at helping you achieve something specific for your body. You might be: massaged or scrubbed with a specific oil, cream or mineral; wrapped or enveloped in mud, seaweed or even plastic; immersed or soaked in liquid, from water to algae; stroked, treated with or exposed to materials such as stones, brushes, magnets, or electric current or lights... Read more >
Good for: Soothing muscles; relieving stress; detoxing; boosting circulation
Botox is an artificial substance, and a brand name for a laboratory-produced chemical called botulinum toxin. It relaxes and ‘freezes’ facial, and other, muscles. Botox is used to get rid of lines and wrinkles. Its effects last a few months and develop slowly over a week or so after it is first injected... Read more >
Good for: Reducing lines and wrinkles but remember: your face should still move...
This is a gentle massage-and-release technique that intermittently uses light, rolling pressure and then rest. No oils are used and you wear loose-fitting clothing.
Good for: Improving circulation; posture; recovery from injury
The hottest room in ancient Roman baths, also with a plunge pool, preceding the tepidarium and frigidarium. These days, a caldarium is more likely to be a thermal room with a hot floor.
A massage using the warm, melted wax of a specialist massage candle as a lubricant. Massage candles are made of a blend of natural waxes, oils and butters. The candle wax melts quickly, turning into a warm, aromatic massage oil.
Hero products: Fluide de Beauté 14 (100ml, £48), Diamond of Beauty (50ml, £430), Carita Eau de Parfum (50ml, £65), all available from: www.carita.co.uk
Founded more than 60 years ago by two sisters, Maria and Rosy Carita, this French brand began as a hair salon in Toulouse. The sisters moved to Paris in 1943 and launched their first beauty products 13 years' later. The brand was bought by Shiseido in the 1980s and has gone from strengthto- strength. Treatments are now available in spas across the UK and abroad, and they have a wide range of face, body and hair products.
Carita is definitely a luxury brand, with a premium range priced from £260. The company has fully embraced modern technology. The CINETIC™ Lift Expert Facial, for example, uses micro-currents, ultrasound and LED technologies to lift, tighten and tone skin. The facial is adored by skincare experts and celebs alike.
They say: “The anti-ageing specialist based on cutting-edge, avant-garde technology.”
We say: The classic French pharmacy packaging suggests Carita will produce professional results. A lot of research, expertise and technology has been packed into each jar, and no animal testing — hence the price. Results are noticeable, especially for mature and dry skins. Check first if you have sensitive skin or are prone to break-outs.
A skin treatment that uses a very low electrical current to help boost circulation and cleanse your pores deep down.
Good for: Deep cleansing
Hero products: Premier Cru The Elixir (29ml, £49), Vinoperfect Radiance Serum (30ml, £45), Eye & Lip Cream (15ml, £26), all available from: www.caudalie.co.uk
Standout treatments: Divine Body Massage (50 minutes, £60) at Caudalie Boutique Spa, London. Premier Cru Facial (60 minutes, £95) at Manor Grove Spa, Northamptonshire.
Caudalie was founded in 1995 by husband-and-wife-team Mathilde and Bertrand Thomas, who were inspired by the antioxidant quality of grapes. Their first ‘Vinothérapie’ spa was opened in 1999; today, Caudalie is still a family-run business focused on harnessing the power of natural ingredients.
Ethics, or ‘Cosm’ethics’ as Mathilde says, is at the heart of the brand. Caudalie is against animal testing, and uses recycled or plant-based materials for containers and packaging where possible. The brand shuns parabens, sodium laureth sulphate, phthalates and other synthetic ingredients. At least one per cent of sales is donated to environmental organisations, which has led to reforestation projects in the Amazon, Brazil and Indonesia. The range includes a very impressive collection of facial skincare, body products and suncare.
They say:“I created Caudalie because I believe in beauty products that are not only effective, but also natural and luxurious.”
We say: Caudalie is an affordable luxury, and our more mature Spa Spies noticed visible results after using the serums and eye creams. The fragrance is clean and fresh – must be the grapes – and the creams we tried were light and milky, without being oily or tacky. Elegant, ethical and très chic, ideal gifts for the discerning Francophiles in your life.
Chakras are the seven areas of the human body believed to be the centres of spiritual energy or life force in ancient Hindu and Buddhist traditions. Chakra points are used in the ancient Indian practice of Ayurveda, as well as traditional Chinese medicine and some Western holistic therapies. The seven chakras are found at the crown of the head, the brow, throat, heart, solar plexus, sacrum, and the base of the spine. By applying pressure to these key points, it is believed that tension can be released, soothing and bringing balance emotionally and physically.
Good for: Relieving tension; bringing emotional and physical relief
Usually a facial treatment, a chemical peel is an exfoliation using a chemical solution to remove dead skin. Often applied as a face mask, containing mild alpha or beta hydroxy acids (AHAs or BHAs) such as glycolic acid, lactic acid, or salicylic acid. Facial peels in a spa should be gentle, and should not cause much discomfort, redness or irritation, although you might feel a bit of a tingle. Peels reveal sensitive new skin, so skin should not be exposed to the sun or any harsh skincare products immediately afterwards... Read more >
Good for: Ageing skin; acne; reducing sun damage and hyper-pigmentation
Another term for colour therapy, this holistic therapy claims to harness the energy in coloured light or objects in order to rebalance your qi (life energy), promote healing or alter your emotional state.
Good for: Some people believe that it promotes healing or improves mood
Hero products: Beauty Flash Balm (50ml, £30), Huile Tonic (100ml, £40), Double Serum (30ml, £56), all available from: www.clarins.co.uk
Standout treatments: Clarins Men’s Muscle Ease Body Massage (55 minutes, £60) at Ragdale Hall Spa, Leicestershire. Aromatic Facial (50 minutes, £60) at Stapleford Park, Leicestershire. Aromatic Balancer (50 minutes, £69) at Sopwell House, St Albans. Radiance Reviver (70 minutes, £77) at Eden Hall, Nottinghamshire.
Founded by Jacques Courtin-Clarins in France in 1954, Clarins has since become a global brand. However, it is still very much a family business, with Jacques’ two sons now at the helm. Clarins favours plant-based extracts and where possible sources them locally, or from fair trade growers, but also manages to combine their natural ethos with innovation and scientific research. Clarins has its own laboratories, collaborates with leading ethnobotanists and works with several research centres.
The brand is involved with several charitable endeavours, including supporting the construction of schools in Vietnam and Madagascar.
The product range is one of the most extensive in the spa world with everything from facial skincare, make up, body treats and men’s ranges.
They say: “Research and development without limits; technical expertise and an innovative spirit are the signatures of Clarins formulas.”
We say: It’s a failsafe classic – you can’t really go wrong with Clarins. Their products are tastefully and comfortingly reliable rather than “wow!”, like a good friend. And if that good friend happened to buy us some Beauty Flash Balm (Clarins’ cult creation) for Christmas we would be very happy.
[ comfort zone ]
Hero products: Skin Regimen Juvenate-Pro Booster (30ml, £69), Body Strategist Scrub (200ml, £36), Skin Resonance Cream (50ml, £51), find out more at: www.comfortzone.it
Comfort Zone was launched in 1996 as sister company to the Italian haircare brand Davines. Owned by the Bollati family, current chairman Davide Bollati’s pharmaceutical background is evident in the brand’s commitment to technological innovation and research. All products are developed and created in Parma, Italy.
Comfort Zone believes in using natural ingredients where possible and is committed to sustainability – 100 per cent of the energy used in the laboratory is from renewable sources. The brand has also invested in reforestation projects to offset other carbon emissions.
The majority of Comfort Zone spas are based in Italy, but the brand has partnered with other spas to offer treatments across the globe, from Australia to South Korea.
They say:“We seek to promote a holistic, healthy and sustainable lifestyle that's based in science and strengthened by passion.”
We say: A good all-round spa brand used in some top Five Bubble spas, so we expect good results from Comfort Zone as well as impeccably designed packaging (they are Italian after all).
This form allows you to tell your therapists of any medical conditions they may need to know about, any medications you may be on, and any other information that may be relevant, such as your skincare concerns, and what you are looking to achieve from your treatments.
Cosmeceutical products are a halfway house between cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. These topical skincare products contain biologically active ingredients, and claim to have the benefits of pharmaceutical medicines.
A gentle and non-invasive massage that uses light touches to ‘listen’ to your body’s discomforts and help release pent-up tension and fear.
Good for: Headaches; back pain; long standing physical or emotional problems; traumatic or difficult births for newborns
A healing practice dating back to ancient civilisations such as the Incas and Mayans. Quartz crystals and other stones are placed at strategic points on your body and around the surrounding room to stimulate vibrations and release energy blockages.
Good for: Releasing tension; facilitating healing
This traditional Chinese medical practice temporarily leaves raised, red ‘wheals’ on your skin, as nobly exhibited by several celebrities. A heated cup is placed on your body and a vacuum created, sucking up your skin. The immediate effects are a bit alarming (see Gwyneth Paltrow) but it is a deeply relaxing treatment... Read more >
Good for: Draining excess fluids; stimulating the nervous system; increasing blood flow
In 1958 a Parisian kinesiotherapist named Pierre Darphin launched his first line of skincare products. Fast forward more than 50 years and Darphin has become a global brand, recognised for the quality of its ingredients.
Now part of the Estée Lauder Group, Darphin offers a wide range of skincare products, aimed at specific skin concerns, from sensitivity to uneven skin tone. However, the brand is probably best known for its essential oil elixirs, which are formulated using high quantities of plant extracts. They also offer body care products, but in a much more limited range than facial skincare.
The Darphin Institute in Paris delves into facial massage techniques including the Deep Massage which claims to be a natural facelift. If you don’t have the time to go to Paris, you can try the massage-inspired facials at some of our favourite UK spas.
They say: “We fuse the finest botanical ingredients, innovative technologies, professional expertise and specialised, sensory techniques.”
We say: Darphin is a classic French brand that’s often associated with beauty, not just spa. The products smell delicious and feel divine on the skin. They’re slightly harder to find in the UK so if you see them, snap them up!
Standout treatments: Divine Nutrition Facial (75 minutes, £64) at The Woodland Spa, Lancashire. Aroma Expert Lift Facial (70 minutes, £80) at Titanic Spa, West Yorkshire. City Detox (55 minutes, £79) at Aqua Sana Elveden Forest, Suffolk.
Decléor launched as one of the earliest aromatherapy skincare companies over 40 years ago in Paris. Back then it was known as “cleor” (the Clé Or being the golden key that opens the temple of beauty). Its philosophy was “be more than skin deep” and each initiative was designed for the wellbeing of the body, skin and spirit – a holistic perspective that was cutting edge for 1974! The original team included a beautician, doctor, shiatsu teacher, aromatherapist and physiotherapist, and their expertise helped them create plant-based energy treatments for beauty salons.
Today, Decléor still uses natural plant-based ingredients, are cruelty free, vegetarian/vegan and environmentally aware. At the heart of their brand and philosophy are Aromessence Oil Serums, concentrated elixirs of essential oils for the face or body. Their extensive range includes face, body and men’s products.
They say:"When you use Decléor, you are treating yourself to the very best that science and nature has to offer.”
We say: Decléor offers instant results, quality ingredients and products that feel really good to use. The essential oils smell delicious and the fact that each product is packed full of them explains the actually quite reasonable price tag. We also find that with most Decléor products a little goes a long way, so it’s good value for money.
Deep Tissue Massage
Deep tissue massage uses slow, firm strokes and pressure to ease and release tension deep in your muscles. Deep tissue massage is a blanket term that describes a number of different therapies, and is often used medically by physiotherapists, chiropractors and so on... Read more >
Standout treatments: Rhythm of Nature Facial (90 minutes, £140) at Longueville Manor, Jersey. Seasonal Attument with facial acupuncture (90 minutes, £245) at Agua at Sanderson, London.
Following a life-changing battle with cancer, Annee De Mamiel embarked on a holistic journey: she learnt acupuncture and meditation, and started blending her own skincare products. Several years and training courses in alternative medicine later, she created the De Mamiel range.
The artisanal products use natural ingredients to treat and balance the skin, and soothe the mind. Essential oils are blended with flower essences, probiotics, peptides and skin-brightening precious gem powders to create a holistic experience. Each product is hand-crafted, chanted over and sung to, bringing 'a vibrational energy' to each batch.
De Mamiel has three ranges: The Botaniques Collection, seasonal facial oils and an anti-pollutant skincare line designed to combat the effects of environmental stress
They say: “Everything you touch, or that touches you, matters. With each formulation, I look at the vitality of every individual ingredient, how it feels, and how skin responds to it. I then look at the land and the environment that feeds it. The result? An artisanal product that is inherently mindful… and tangibly ‘vital’ – reminding us to slow down, breathe, enjoy and take the time to care for ourselves”.
We say: A unique and beautiful brand for stylish eccentrics. It’s a bit Marmite – you’ll either love de Mamiel or find it a bit messy and odd; we fall into the former category. The fragrances are delightful and different, and the facial we had produced the kind of healthy glow and peace of mind you get after a long walk. The award-winning Altitude oil has become a handbag essential.
The injection of a synthetic, man-made or natural substance into the skin in order to improve the appearance of lines, wrinkles, scars or skin depressions. Common substances used as dermal fillers include hyaluronic acid, collagen or collagen synthesisers, and calcium hydroxylapatite. Branded fillers include Restylane and Juvederm (hyaluronic acid), Sculptra, and Radiesse (calcium hydroxylapatite)... Read more >
Good for: Reducing the appearance of wrinkles and even quite deep lines
Hero products: Special Cleansing Gel (250ml, £32), Daily Microfoliant (75g, £48), Super Rich Repair (50ml, £69), available at dermalogica.co.uk
Standout treatments: ProSkin 60 Facial at Dermalogica, Duke of York Square, London.
The brand launched in 1986 as a product line free from common irritants and ingredients that could cause break-outs. The ingredients it does use – natural actives – produce results. The statement no-nonsense packaging says it all.
They say: "We're not pretty (Or beautiful. Or pampering. Or luxury.) We’re far too interested in guiding you to a new level of skin health fitness! So, while our packaging may not be designed to color-coordinate with your bathroom, you can always be sure that we use ingredients that we know will work."
We say: "If you have specific skin concerns, this is an intelligent, practical and trustworthy brand that offers visible results. Their ProSkin-60 facial is one of Scarlet Spy's favourite treatments."
Your dosha, or body type, is a unique mix of energies known as 'vata', 'pitta and 'kapha'. According to Ayurvedic practitioners, a person’s dosha determines the kind of lifestyle that is balancing and healthy for them.
Dry floatation offers the relaxing benefits of wet floatation, but without getting wet. Dry floatation is usually a body treatment carried out on a mattress filled with warm water. The warmth of the water also helps relax your muscles, making massage easier and more comfortable.
Electrolysis removes hair using a mild electrical current and discourages it from growing back so quickly. Electrolysis is effective but is time-consuming and potentially expensive.
Hero products: Cool & Clear Facial Cleanser (30ml, £29), Hand Nutrition Intensive Hand and Nail Repair Cream (75ml, £16), Tree Of Life Multi-Purpose Balm (100ml, £22), all available from www.elementalherbology.com
Skincare expert Kristy Cimesa founded Elemental Herbology in 2008. With a background in Chinese medicine and acupuncture, her vision was to create a range that balanced the elements which have a significant effect on the skin – seasonal, lifestyle and hormonal change. Products are created with patented, bio-active ingredients, along with essential oils, vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants.
Elemental Herbology supports responsible harvesting and production of all raw materials, and works with projects that regenerate the environment and local communities. They ensure their products are 100 per cent free of synthetic fragrance, artificial colour, sulphates, parabens and preservatives, and are not tested on animals.
They say: “Elemental Herbology takes a holistic approach and, for us, lifestyle and nutrition are all part of a good skincare regime. We are more than just great products; we believe in looking after your skin both inside and out.”
We say: This is a classy and beautiful range that delivers impressive results as well as a clean, green conscience. We love the seasonal ranges and anti-aging serums, and have had amazing results from their facials. The products also smell gorgeous – if you have a massage with Elemental Herbology oils, you won’t want to shower afterwards.
Hero products: Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm (105g, £40), Pro Collagen Marine Cream (50ml, £80), Frangipani Monoi Body Oil (100ml, £35) all available at: www.elemis.com
British brand Elemis was founded in 1990 by Séan Harrington, Noella Gabriel and Oriele Frank. It clearly set out to be a beauty force to be reckoned with and is now ubiquitous worldwide, with a British Airways contract and an ever-expanding product range. You’ll find products for facial skincare, body, bath, candles and a range just for men.
Elemis uses ethically sourced, natural ingredients which are developed in labs to produce visible results. Creating a natural aroma is also an important part of the brand ethos. The face that launched the brand was Rachel de Thame, a TV horticulturist and now one of their in-house ‘experts’ (she designs the window boxes at the House of Elemis day spa in Mayfair).
They say: “Elemis was born out of the vision to bring together the power of nature, science and aromatics. To harness the dynamism of the highest-grade actives and create a skincare line that would transform the frontline of the beauty industry.”
We say: Elemis is so commercial and huge – it’s worth around £75 million – but there’s no escaping the fact that their products are very good. They deliver what they claim to do, and that’s the reason they’re so successful with an almost cult-like spa following.
An enzyme is a class of protein that speeds up chemical reactions within the body. Almost all biological processes need enzymes in order to work properly. In the spa context, you may come across an enzyme peel, which is a face mask that uses the natural enzymes in fruits such as papaya, pineapple and kiwi to exfoliate and smooth your skin.
Hero products: 24 Hour Replenishing Moisturiser (55ml, £42), Restorative Body Oil (100ml, £32), Optimal Skin Pro-Serum (30ml, £48) all available at: www.espaskincare.com
Vogue writer Susan Harmsworth created ESPA in a time when the industry was beauty, rather than skincare focused. A move to Toronto opened her eyes when she met a group of Eastern European therapists who trained in medicine, leading her to think holistically about using a scientific approach to harness natural ingredients.
ESPA launched in 1993 and today has over 450 spas in 50 countries. The product range is extensive, innovative, luxurious and results-driven, the ingredients are a combination of aromatherapy, plant and marine extracts. They’re also 99-100 per cent natural and do not use animal testing. You’ll find a full set of spa products including facial and body care, bath treats, candles and men’s products.
They say: “Using only the very purest extracts, ESPA biochemists distil active ingredients into products that keep their promises. For instant, lasting results every day.”
We say: This is a classy, respected beauty product house, perfect for anyone who wants a spa experience every day in their bathroom cabinet. The active ingredients produce great results while the products themselves feel and smell luxurious.
Hero products: Eve Lom Cleanser (100ml, £55), TLC Cream (50ml, £55), Rescue Mask (100ml, £55) all available from: www.evelom.com
Standout treatments: Eve Lom Experience (90 minutes, £140), Eve Lom Cleanse (60 minutes, £100) both at Agua at Sanderson, London.
Over 25 years ago, Czech-born skincare legend Eve Lom launched her famous fuss-free range with her award-winning cleanser, which remains a cult product. Now in her sixties, Eve is a multi-millionaire and one of the hottest facialists in the world. She is also an expert in anatomy, nutrition and massage, and has developed a unique massage technique designed to be performed by her trained therapists during the facial.
Refreshingly, Eve has no truck with the pseudoscience that dominates the beauty skincare market. She says the problem today is we put too much on our skin, which stops it functioning, so her focus is on simplifying and minimalizing through cleansing and exfoliating, while using massage to detox and calm internal organs and mind.
They say: “We believe that flawlessly clean and gently exfoliated skin is the perfect canvas for skincare to perform.”
We say: According to Vogue, the Eve Lom cleanser is “probably the best in the world.” And like most beauty editors, having tried it, we are addicted.
The removal of the top layer of dead or tired skin cells to reveal your lovely fresh peachy layer underneath. Often a scrub, or achieved with special gloves or brushes.
Good for: Improving your skin tone and texture; deep cleansing
As opposed to the simple shower you may find in a gym or at home, an experience shower is designed to offer a “water experience” through the use of differing water pressures and temperatures, and sometimes fragrances and coloured lighting effects. The flow of water is often intended to replicate natural precipitation such as cool rainfall or a warm, tropical haze.
Facials often combine cleaning, exfoliation, face masks, massage and moisturisers to brighten skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines... Read more >
A spa treatment that includes the use of therapeutic muds or clays, such as thermal mud wraps or mud baths. Fango is the Italian word for mud.
Good for: Soft skin; soothed muscles
Floatation is a deeply relaxing body treatment that allows you to experience total weightlessness. This is achieved by the high level of Epsom salt in the water, which acts as a buoyancy aid. The water is usually heated to exactly body temperature so, once you're settled, you can't tell where your body ends and the water begins... Read more >
Good for: Deep relaxation; relieving stress on joints and muscles
This usually includes a foot soak or a cleanse with hot towels, followed by exfoliation and massage. Some spa treatments begin with a foot ritual. The aim is to start the process of relaxation in order to get the most out of your treatment.
A cold wrap from product house Thalgo, designed to eliminate excess water from body tissues.
Good for: Activates circulation; relieves aches and pains; promotes skin suppleness
A manicure using a lightweight gel polish that is set hard by UV light. Gel polish is more hard-wearing than regular polish, and so your manicure can last until you choose to remove the polish... Read more >
Germaine de Capuccini
Hero products: Multi Regenerating Rosehip Oil (30ml, £36.50), Illuminating Detox Eye Formula (15ml, £46.50), X.Cel Retinage Filler (50ml, £96.50) all available at: www.germainede-capuccini.co.uk
Standout treatments: Black Diamond Facial (60 minutes, £95) Chuan Body and Soul at The Langham, London. Time Expert Age Reverse Facial (90 minutes, £90) at The Garage Spa, County Durham.
Spanish luxury spa and skincare company Germaine de Capuccini was formed in 1964 by Carmen Vidal, a beauty therapist who created her own product range in the tiny kitchen of her beauty salon. Now 43 years later, her little laboratory has expanded to over 18,000 square feet.
The company employs a large team of scientists and dermatologists to develop new ingredients, using the latest technology and ethically sourced plants, vitamins and minerals. The philosophy behind the brand is to treat the mind, body and soul to an ‘experience’ rather than a treatment. Their cutting edge approach to skincare means they launch 40 new products and treatments every year and specialise in the anti-aging sector.
They say: “Specialising in anti-ageing, all treatments have the ‘wow factor’ and always deliver very real visual results.”
We say: An exclusive product aimed at the top-end of the beauty and spa industry. We’re not the kind of girls to be impressed by the size of someone’s lab, but we truly admire Germaine de Capuccini’s boundless creativity. The products and treatments make us look and feel special.
An unusual spa treatment that uses a mixture of clay, oils and herbs to exfoliate your body. Smoothed onto your skin in long, stroking movements, the gommage cream, gel or paste is then allowed dry for a few minutes like a face mask. The therapist removes it with a gentle rubbing motion, and as it rolls up off your skin, it takes the skin’s outermost dead skin cells with it. The word gommage comes from the French verb ‘to erase’.
Good for: Depending on the ingredients of the gommage, it can be used to exfoliate; draw out toxins; smooth skin
Hero products: Age Logic Yeux (15ml, £69.50), Longue Vie Cellulaire (50ml, £85.50), Masque Essentiel Nutrition Confort (50ml, £25) all available at: uk.guinot.com
Standout treatments: Hydradermie (60 minutes, £62) and Aromatic Facial (45 minutes, £50) at Tre-Ysgawen Hall, Isle of Anglesey.
This French brand began in 1963, when chemical engineer Rene Guinot designed the first skin care device using galvanic current. This defined the procedure for cathiodermie, which has now morphed into their famous Hydradermie treatment. In 1972, current CEO Jean Daniel Mondin took over offering Guinot treatments in his VIP rooms at the Hotel George V in Paris.
Although Guinot believe their treatments are far more effective than creams, their brand Guinot Paris is popular around the world. Three specific categories are targeted in the line: face, body and sun. Guinot products are not tested on animals, contain no parabens and are eco-friendly.
We say: Guinot is the royal family of beauty products and still going strong, although perhaps more so in Paris and America. Their Hydradermie facial remains a trusted favourite among treatment fans. Products tend to be rich and rejuvenating, therefore good for mature and dry or sun damaged skins.
Originally a communal bathhouse in Islamic countries, a hammam is a thermal chamber, usually heated by steam, that you may find in a spa's thermal suite. Hammams are usually lined in marble, and may have a low, flat marble table in the centre for treatments. Hammam rituals are traditional cleansing ceremonies that involve an application of soap that is then removed with an exfoliating glove called a kessa. Turkish-style hammams are also known as Turkish baths... Read more >
Good for: Chilling out in a deeply sensuous environment; deep cleansing; invigorating
A holistic treatment aims to treat the "whole person" – the body, mind, and spirit. These therapies aim to address both physical and mental imbalances, to try and bring a sense of balance and overall well-being. Holistic treatments may also be categorised as "complementary therapies"... Read more >
Hot Herb Poultice
A tightly-packed mixture of herbs, covered with muslin, which is heated and used to massage along pulse points on your body during a treatment. It feels similar to stones, as it is pressed and rolled along your skin. This is a deeply relaxing and unusual treatment that smells soothing and feels very comforting, particularly when padded onto the soles of your feet and the palms of your hands.
Good for: Relaxation; coping with jet lag
Hot Stone Massage
Also known as thermotherapy, hot stone massage uses heated basalt stones laid or rolled onto parts of your skin... Read more >
Good for: Relaxing muscles; warming up on a cold day
Hydro massage is a water-based spa treatment which uses high pressure jets of water to massage your skin and stimulate your circulation. A hydro massage is much more powerful than a Jacuzzi or a whirlpool bath, and the water used will be hotter... Read more >
Good for: Cleansing; relaxing
This term refers to the therapeutic use of water, be it in the form of baths to soak in, water jets to massage your muscles, or pools to exercise in. Hydrotherapy pools are usually heated to a temperature warm enough to relax in, and usually features a series of high-pressure water jets to massage your body while in the water... Read more >
Hydrotherm is a massage system which places warm water-filled pads on top of a regular therapy couch. Your entire massage is carried out while you are faceup, on your back. Your therapist will slide their hands between you and the pads to give you your massage... Read more >
Ila is a British brand with international flavour — ila means ‘earth’ in Sanskrit. The products are made in the Cotswolds, mostly from certified organic ingredients, with the rest sourced from plants and minerals from the most remote, unpolluted parts of the world.
Founder Denise Leicester is a nurse, aromatherapist and yoga teacher. Her belief in the power of healing energy fills the products which have holistic aims; we love the Bath Salts for Inner Peace, and ancient pink rock salt crystals from eastern Pakistan.
The product range is a little smaller than some, but this is made up for in the quality. There’s facial and body skincare, bath treats and candles available. We love the essentials range, which is great if you’re looking to step up your shampoo, conditioner and body wash from chemist basics.
If you love the sound of ila, you can visit their retreat in Mustique and dive wholeheartedly into its ethos.
They say: “ila’s vocation is to bring purity, energy and balance into everyday life through the creation of luxury organic products that are as effective as they are ethical.”
We say: If organic is your must-have, ila will give you effective, eco-friendly products that inspire, smell divine and feel beautiful on your skin.
Indian head massage
Also known as Champissage and Shiroabhyanga, Indian head massage is part of the Hindu health care practice of Ayurveda. Indian head massage combines Chakra-cleansing massage with the aromatic power of essential oils and focuses on your head, neck and shoulders... Read more >
A spa treatment that uses mild electrical currents to stimulate the nerves in your body. Using pen-like instruments, the therapist applies very short bursts of current, which tingle a little. It’s odd, but not painful. Often a feature in algotherapy, slimming, detoxing and shaping spa treatments.
Good for: Reducing cellulite; tightening up muscles in ‘problem’ areas
IPL (Intense Pulsed Light)
IPL is a technology that uses specific wavelengths of light in intense pulses. The light travels through the skin and is converted into heat energy that can vaporise hair follicles for permanent hair removal. IPL can also be used on acne rosacea, broken capillaries, and sun damage.
Hero products: Anti-oxidant Marine Face Cream (50ml, £70), Regenerating Face Serum (50ml, £60), Invigorating Body Lotion (100ml, £35) all available at www.ishga.co.uk
Ishga (derived from the Gaelic name for water) was developed on the Isle of Lewis by Malcolm Macrae, director of Hebridean Spa Ltd, and his wife Joanna, a Clarins beauty therapist. The Hebrides has some of the cleanest waters in the world and this is where Ishga hand harvests the seaweed for their skincare range. The seaweed is treated with spring water and a slow heating process to produce the pure seaweed extract. It is said to plump and tone skin, and stimulate circulation.
The product range is bijou and straightforward – cleansers, toners, oils, creams, body lotion and scrubs – all with natural and organic ingredients and essential oils.
They say: “Harnessing the natural antioxidant, healing and anti-ageing properties provided by the purest organic Scottish seaweed.”
We say: Seaweed is increasingly popular in spa therapies as it’s so rich in minerals and anti-oxidants. Ishga feels as Scottish as Fairisle jumpers and single malts. Products are creamy without being too oily and great for combination skin. The ingredients can be very active, but you should be left with a robustly healthy Hebridean glow.
A Japanese enzyme "bath" is actually a dry heat treatment. You sit in a wooden tub or deep barrel that is filled with ingredients such as aromatic wood shavings, rice bran, and plant enzymes. The ingredients ferment, creating a natural heat that warms your body. The treatment helps ease aches and pains, and is believed to stimulate your body's detoxification process.
Hero products: Concentrate for Dry Skin (£30, 35ml), Dry Skin Cream (50ml, £35), Gentle Oil and Salt Exfoliator (200ml, £25), all available from: www.katherinedaniels.com
Standout treatments: Bespoke Skin Treatment (45 minutes, £55) Antara Spa at The Chelsea Health Club, London.
Katherine Daniels was created by Donna Tait and Kirsti Shuba — who have 60 years’ experience in the beauty industry between them — and launched in November 2013. The tagline is ‘a beautifully British skincare concept’; the mission is to de-mystify skincare, producing luxury but affordable products and treatments. The brand appeals to busy women who feel their skin has been affected by lifestyle, environment and climate, who may also have ageing concerns, yet have little time to think deeply about skincare.
With this in mind, Katherine Daniels keeps their product range as simple as possible, to help create an easy, stress-free skincare regime. Products target specific concerns with four colour coded steps: essentials, boost, defence and treat. Active ingredients come from plant, marine, collagen and bio-technology sources.
They say: “Simplicity and elegance on the outside with the best that science and nature has to offer on the inside.”
We say: The packaging with its pastel-hued Union Jack would fit perfectly into the kind of chi-chi boutique gift shop you see in leafy London high streets. The products we tried smelt and felt lovely; delicately creamy on the skin with a clean, fresh feeling. Our skin felt nourished and silky to the touch, looked smooth, plump and glowing. Peachy! Savant Spy was very impressed with the results of her facial, which proved that KD is more than just a pretty face.
Hero products: Multi-Vitamin Day Crème (50ml, £50), Rehydrating Neroli Water (100ml, £32), Turkish Body Scrub With Eucalyptus (237ml, £42) all available at: www.kerstinflorian.co.uk
Standout treatments: Kerstin Florian Sensitive Skin Facial (60 minutes, £70) at PH20 at Park House, West Sussex. Lavender Field of Dreams Massage (80 minutes, £125) at The Spa at Coworth Park, Berkshire. Bespoke Facial (60 minutes, £105) at The Dorchester Spa, London.
Kerstin Florian is an American brand with a Scandinavian influence. Named after the founder, the company is still run by the family with Kerstin and Charlene Florian at the helm. The “Outer Beauty, Inner Health” philosophy spills into a lifestyle focus for the brand including effective natural and botanic ingredients in the products that are rich in algae, herbal extracts and essential oils. The range of products is impressive with specialist lotions and potions for each skin type.
The treatments draw on the natural theme: we defy anyone from not getting a good night’s sleep after the Lavender Field of Dreams Massage.
They say: “Kerstin Florian promotes the philosophy of outer beauty, inner health and inspires a sense of wellbeing through naturally-sourced spa products, technically-advanced ingredients and professionally-designed spa services.”
We say: Kerstin Florian is an on-trend mix of Swedish practicality and Californian holistic wellbeing. The packaging is extremely elegant – you feel like you’re getting a high quality product that is confident about delivering results. The products are effective and luxurious in feel and subtle in scent.
A training programme focusing on movement through balance, flexibility and strength. Often featuring kinesis walls – four panels with cables, grips and weight stacks designed to promote complete movement in any direction from any position.
Herbal and mineral baths of different temperatures. The Kneipp system combines these with a purifying diet, exercise and spiritual practices.
Good for: Improving general health, fitness and moods; detoxification; stimulating circulation
Ko Bi Do
A Japanese facial massage technique using acupressure along the facial meridians.
Hero products: Facial Oil with Prickly Pear (50ml, £41), Journey of the Spice Route Shea Butter (300g, £33), Journey of the Spice Route Body Scrub (300g, £31), all available from: www.lasultanedesaba.co.uk
Standout treatments: 23 Carat Gold Facial Ceremony (80 minutes, £95) at The Spa in Dolphin Square, London. Ayush La Sultane Prescriptive Signature Facial (80 minutes, £99) at Ayush Wellness Spa at the Hotel De France, Jersey.
The Parisian brand La Sultane De Saba was founded by a Moroccan family who combined their own beauty secrets passed down from mother and daughter with those reportedly used by Cleopatra to create traditional treatments and products. The product range and treatments are designed in journeys which aim to take you on a voyage to far off lands before returning fully relaxed with a better sense of wellbeing.
Each product is designed to nourish the face and body with natural, paraben-free ingredients sourced from all over the world. They have over twenty different fragrances and various journeys transporting you to Bali, Morocco, Japan and other exotic, far flung places.
They say:“Through its authentic and original products and body treatments, La Sultane de Saba's aim is to encourage you to dream, allow you to travel, discovering far-off horizons, as you head towards the lands of the sun, where body and spirit return to the very essence of relaxation and wellbeing.”
We say: La Sultane de Saba treatments and products really do evoke journeys to mystical lands. The rich and scented products are nourishing, while the hammam rituals leave you with glowing skin. Drift off to Morocco…
Lava Shell Massage
Lava Shell massage is a type of heat treatment that uses Tiger-striped clam shells as a massage tool... Read more >
Good for: Boosting circulation; soothing aches and pains
Light therapy, or photodynamic therapy, uses different colours and strengths of LED lights to stimulate the skin. It comes in lots of different forms including masks, handheld lights and a canopy that’s placed above the face. Proponents say that blue light is cleansing, red is anti-ageing and yellow reduces redness and inflammation.
Hero products: V-Tox (50ml, £99), Hydrating Mist (40ml, £29), Q3 (50g, £79) all available at: www.lindameredith.com
Standout treatments: The Haute Couture Facial (60 mins, £105), Linda Meredith Collagen Facial (75 mins, £127) at Chewton Glen Spa, Hampshire.
On Linda Meredith’s website is a staggering celebrity clientele list that will make your eyelashes curl, from Gwyneth Paltrow to Madonna by way of Rosamund Pike, Emma Thompson and Kate Moss, plus a host of male pin-ups.
So what makes her so special? Linda has worked in skincare for 40 years, and has noticed a dramatic change in how our skin is evolving. Thanks to environmental forces – from man-made (air con, heating, pollutants) to natural (sun damage, hormones) – we are no longer just oily, dry or combination. The Linda Meredith skincare range is created with layering and overlapping in mind, to address a variety of skin problems rather than uniform types.
We say: When having a Linda Meredith Oxygen Facial we felt in very safe hands. The end result was amazing. With so many celebrity clients, it’s not surprising Meredith has the answer for coping with long haul flights too. Her wonderful Hydrating Mist fits easily in hand luggage, so you can land ready and glowing.
Hero products: Shea Butter Hand Cream (50ml, £19), Divine Cream (50ml, £74), Almond Milk Shower Oil (250ml, £18), all available from: uk.loccitane.com
Standout treatments: Immortelle Secret of Youth (60 minutes, from £110), Aromachologie Relaxing Massage (90 minutes, from £140) and Almond Detoxifying Body Wrap (45 minutes, from £65) at the Garden Spa at The Bath Priory, Somerset.
From humble beginnings on a market stall in Provence, L'Occitane has grown to become a household name in the last 40 years. The ethical brand is best known for its botanical ingredients and philanthropic values – L’Occitane Foundation works to support women in West Africa’s Burkina Faso, among other projects. Environmental sustainability is important, too: L’Occitane champions sustainable and refillable packaging.
The Mediterranean-inspired face, hair and body products are developed using phytotherapy and aromatherapy. Over 200 botanical ingredients are used in their products, all of which are gathered and sourced responsibly, allowing the brand to adhere to the UN Global pact. As well as the main collections, try the travel ranges and limited edition products.
They say: “Using a L'Occitane product is always a moment of wellbeing and sensory delight.”
We say: Many French skincare brands focus purely on results, but L'Occitane stands out from the crowd with its strong, colourful identity, proud heritage, aromatic scents and natural ingredients. We love the almond shower oil – a luxurious treat that leaves skin feeling silky-smooth - and the shea butter hand cream that works miracles on extremely dry, sore hands.
Lomi Lomi Massage
Also known as the ‘loving hands’ or Hawaiian massage, ‘lomi lomi’ translates to ‘rub rub’ in Hawaiian, and reflects the broad, flowing strokes made with the therapist’s fingers, thumbs, palms, arms and elbows. Macadamia, palm and coconut oils are usually used to keep the strokes smooth, and to moisturise and nourish the skin. The long, continuous strokes of the massage are designed to help the body let go of its old patterns and behaviours, which can cause stresses and strains in the muscles. A traditional massage will begin with a prayer... Read more >
Good for: Releasing muscular and emotional tension; assisting lymph flow; eliminating toxins
Lymphatic Drainage Massage
A therapeutic treatment that uses gentle pulsing motions to encourage the lymph in your body to flow more freely. Lymphatic drainage massage boosts the flow of lymph around your body, refreshing your immune system and flushing out toxins... Read more >
Good for: Puffiness and water retention; energising; relaxing; balancing
Hero products: Facial Cleanser (50ml, £29), Rose and Vanilla Face Oil (50ml, £39), Restorative Body Balm (100ml, £45) all available at www.madeforlifeorganics.com
Standout treatments: Made for Life Infusion (110 mins, £90) at Agua at Mondrain, London. Head in Heaven (90 minutes, £75) at The Walled Garden Spa, Cornwall. Rose Indulgence Body Treatment (50 minutes, £100) at Brown’s Hotel, London.
Created in Italy by Dr Mariano Spiezia and his wife Loredana, this skincare range was transformed into a major name in organic skincare by its English MD Amanda Barlow. All products are now handmade in Truro, Cornwall using local herbs and flowers wherever possible. Spiezia also helped pioneer Soil Association Accreditation for beauty products in the UK, and were the first company to achieve 100 per cent organic certification across the range in 1999.
Made for Life products are notable for their bright purple, pink and turquoise jars. They cater for women, men, babies, and people with problem skin. Zara Phillips allegedly had the Relax and Rejuvenate Facial in the run up to her wedding.
They say: “We believe that nature does it best. We’ve developed a unique process which uses solar and lunar energy to make the most of the air-dried herbs used in our products. Our products are not only great for your skin, but also for the environment.”
We say: The products look and smell good enough to eat – and they come with a free halo thanks to the brand’s eco and ethical conscience (MD Barlow also founded the Made For Life Foundation to support those diagnosed with, and recovering from, cancer). Their bright, funky jars don’t exactly scream organic until you open the lid to unleash the essential oils. The products we tried were waxy rather than creamy and felt soft and smooth once applied.
A beauty treatment for your hands and nails that often includes the application of nail polish. Tools, creams, oils, waxes and massage techniques are used to clean and shape your nails and care for your cuticles... Read more >
Good for: Improving the texture of nails and skin; leaving nails polished and perfect; special occasions
Part of Ayurvedic medical practice, marma points are similar to pressure points in acupressure, acupuncture and Shiatsu. They are points along the energy paths that map your body that, when pressed, release tension and unlock pain.
Good for: Maintaining healthy balance; improving digestion; pain; arthritis
Hero products: Himalayan Healing Salts (250g, £26.50), Grow Strong Hair Oil (30ml, £29), Supreme Skin Face Serum (30ml, £54), all available from: www.maulirituals.com
Standout treatments: Surrender by Mauli (120 minutes, £330) at the Bulgari Spa, London.
Mauli Rituals aims to renew and redefine ayurvedic principles for balanced modern living, by way of hand-crafted, natural products for the hair, skin and body. Each Mauli product comes with its own ritual designed to heal or revive, while encouraging the user to take five minutes out of their day to celebrate themselves.
The all-natural and organic ingredients are selected in India and blended by aromatherapy artisans in England. Products are free from synthetic fragrances, parabens, mineral oils, and other nasties; they are never tested on animals and are presented in recyclable, re-usable packaging. If that isn’t enough to keep your conscience green, the final cherry is the fact that £1 for every product bought goes to causes that ‘enrich the lives of children’. There’s no excuse not to indulge…
They say: "People don't need things; they need to escape from things. We don't want to add to the noise and instead devote ourselves to offering exceptional products that encourage individuals to reflect, recharge and emerge looking and feeling resplendent."
We say: If you love trendy organics with lush aromas, Mauli is the brand for you. The products are rich, indulgent and beautifully-scented, and we love the philosophy of taking time out for oneself. Whether we’re looking for glow-inducing, hydration-boosting skincare or an indulgent treat for un-nourished locks, look no further. PS. The Spa Spies are fans.
Medi-spa covers the more results-driven treatments that border on the medical, but can be booked at your spa instead of a cosmetic clinic. You might also hear them referred to as non-surgical procedures, ie, not plastic/cosmetic surgery.
The term covers cosmetic injections and chemical peels. Some, such as Botox can only be administered by a doctor, even in a spa, while microdermabrasion can be carried out by specially trained and certified therapists as well as doctors.
Not all medi-spas are qualified or have an in-house doctor. If you are going for cosmetic injections or a chemical peel that goes deeper than glycolic acid, check your practitioner is on the Treatments You Can Trust Register, which is supported by the Department of Health. It is also wise to ask about your practitioner's qualifications and experience... Read more >
Meditation is a personal practice of selfinduced quiet contemplation. Meditation is believed to promote calmness, heighten self-awareness and develop and maintain focus. Some studies have suggested that meditation can also reduce stress and deliver positive changes to your metabolism, blood pressure and other bodily processes. Many spas offer meditation classes designed to help you learn how to access the quiet spaces in between your thoughts... Read more >
Good for: Relaxation; de-stressing; gaining focus
Exfoliation using a device that blasts fine crystals onto the skin and vacuums them up, together with any dead skin and dirt. Microdermabrasion is often a feature of an exfoliating or radiance facial... Read more >
Good for: Really fresh, radiant skin in a short amount of time
Mindfulness is a philosophy based on the Buddhist idea of being awake, and the existential belief that the present moment is the only reality. The basic aim of mindfulness is to develop an awareness and non-judgmental acceptance of the present moment, to live in the now rather than worry obsessively about the past or the future.
Moor mud, or therapeutic peat moss, is an organic substance extracted from peat bogs around Europe. Peat is a product of the natural decomposition of plants, and it contains a high concentration of minerals, vitamins, and amino acids, which give the "mud" anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Moor mud is used in therapeutic baths, wraps and masks to help cleanse the skin, and to relieve aching joints.
Hero products: Intense Hydrating Mask (250ml, £24.75), Original Hand Cream (125ml, £27), Original Body Soufflé (110ml, £43) find out more at www.moroccanoil.com
The concept of Moroccanoil was born when one of the founders, Carmen Tal, had a really poor colour service for her hair and was rescued by an oil treatment. This treatment became the kernal of the brand. Moroccanoil took off and is now one of the leading haircare brands, loved by Hollywood starlets and stylists alike. The brand has since branched out into ultra-nourishing skincare and body products — The Fleur de Oranger, Fleur de Rose and Fragrance Originale — as well as treatments.
The aroma is spicy sweet ambers juxtaposed with sweet florals, with the body range very much inspired by the Mediterranean. Skincare products feature antioxidant-rich argan oil, minerals and vitamins.
They say:“At Moroccanoil, our passion is all about empowering beautiful transformations”.
We say: Moroccanoil came to our attention several years ago when the treatment product started popping up in spas around the UK. The product range has grown to include body treatments but they are still easy to use, and nourish the hair and skin beautifully.
Mud and spas have a long history. Ancient bathers would slather themselves with mineral-rich muds or clays, letting them harden in the sun before rinsing off in the springs or rivers. The best known are Dead Sea Mud and mineral clay from the Atlas Mountains used in Moroccan rasuls, but these days spas are getting more creative with the slimy stuff. Muds used in modern spas usually contain minerals, essential oils and other goodies, such as algae. The mud can be applied like a mask or massaged into the face, body, or scalp. Sometimes applying a wrap or using steam from a steam room will intensify the mud’s beneficial properties.
Good for: Arthritis; slimming; detoxifying; skin problems such as eczema; improves circulation; soothes aching and tired muscles; smooths wrinkles; exfoliates skin.
Standout treatments: Advanced Murad Method Facial (80 minutes, £135) at Urban Retreat, Harrods. Murad Taster Facial (25 minutes, £38) at Thornton Hall, Merseyside. Murad Method Facial (50 minutes, £70) at Y Spa at The Waterfront Hotel, Bedfordshire.
Murad is the brain child of Californian dermatologist Dr Howard Murad, whose vision is to create skincare products and supplements to help people look and feel healthy and beautiful. Since it launched in 1989, Murad has been at the cutting edge of skincare science and was one of the first to use glycolic acid.
The Murad range is broad and tailorable. Each product range works with a specifi c skincare concern including age reform, redness therapy for sensitive skin, age-proof sunscreen and Murad for men. As part of Murad’s “Inclusive Health” philosophy (including topical skincare, internal care and your sense of self) there are also supplements and body care products.There’s even a buy-back promise if you’re not happy with the results.
They say:“With Murad, it really is possible to get great skin at any age.”
We say: Summer Spy swears by Murad to help with stressed out skin. Going beyond the standard dry, combination, oily skin ranges, the products allow you to properly tailor your skincare routine, whether you’re looking for blemish prone and anti-ageing or trying to protect your skin from the pollutions of city life.
Spanish skincare company Natura Bissé was founded in 1979. Ricardo Fisas Mulleras rooted the company firmly in science and research, using pharmaceutical grade ingredients for targeted results. In the 1990s, the company expanded into the US market, taking its range to Hollywood, which embraced the results-driven products and treatments.
In the UK, you’ll find Natura Bissé in high-end spas offering facial and body treatments. We’ve tried two or three different Natura Bissé facials and each time the Spa Spy has come back glowing and waxing lyrical about the difference it made. We’re impressed! The product range is mostly around very effective facial skincare, but there are also body treats available.
They say: “Natura Bissé is a pioneer in the development of highly effective products based on formulas that use the latest trends and technologies in aesthetic medicine.”
We say: Natura Bissé products and treatments are an investment but they are worth it. The Diamond Expert Eye Cream will make your eyes look like you’ve had a full eight hours sleep, even when you’ve been burning the candle at both ends. The Sheer Cure Cream is a god-send when you want beautiful skin without having to wear full make up, and we love the professional feel of the Glycoline Peel when you can’t squeeze in a regular trip to a facialist.
Natural Spa Factory
Hero products: Gel Cleanser with Rose Honey Oil (50ml, £22.50), Honey Massage Tin Candle (£8), Fig & Vanilla Body Lotion (250ml, £15), all available from: www.naturalspafactory.com
Standout treatments: Gold Champagne Facial (60 minutes, £85) at The Spa at The Grand, Brighton. Rhassoul Mud Room (45 minutes, £45) at The Headland Spa, Cornwall.
Started by a husband-and-wife team in 2009, Natural Spa Factory is a British brand committed to using botanically-sourced ingredients from the UK. Packaging is ‘gender neutral’, while lotions and potions are free from nasties like parabens and SLS, and they’re not tested on animals – perfect for happy skin. Ingredients are concocted with creative flair; choose from the whiskey and honey, chocolate, or wild rose salted body scrubs. There’s a full range of products for facial skin care, body care, products for men, expectant mothers, even bright and bold designs for children. Try the high-end gold range which includes Champagne, pearl and caviar extract, or the gorgeous amber noir candle to illuminate cold nights.
They say:“[We] create beauty products that are inSPArational, natural and innovative.”
We say: From the website and press coverage, you will get a sense that this is an innovative, media savvy company with a bold sense of style and concept. There's a For Men range, but we love that they push for men and women sharing beauty products, and celebrate natural beauty (check out the Liquid Bush Balm… we’ll say no more). There is also a Bumps a Daisy Range for mums-to-be.Products are pleasant to use and delightfully scented. We recommend trying a rasul experience: the Natural Spa Factory muds are packed with skin-glowing goodies.
Hero products: Wild Rose Beauty Balm (50ml, £38), Beauty Sleep Concentrate (30ml, £32.50), Frankincense Intense Cream (50g, £55), all available from: www.nealsyardremedies.com
Standout treatments: Aromatherapy Massage, Facial Rejuvenation and Tailored Ayurveda Treatment at Neal's Yard stores nationwide.
Neal’s Yard is named after Thomas Neal, a man who created the Seven Dials area of Covent Garden in the 1690s. The yard in question was once rat-infested and derelict, until Whole Foods' entrepreneur Nicholas Saunders transformed it into a trendy alternative hang-out in the late 1970s.
The skincare product was born out of Saunders’ belief that beauty should be natural and customers should know what goes into the products they are buying: a holistic and natural ethos that remains at the core of the brand today. It also supports environmental and ethical causes. With a good range of award-winning body care, cosmetics, aromatherapy products and wellbeing remedies, Neal’s Yard has gone from counter culture to household name.
They say:“Our vision was to bring the expertise of the apothecary, and our holistic approach to health and beauty, to people and communities.”
We say: Neal’s Yard Remedies still have the charm and kudos they had back in the day. Clean beauty is very much in, and there’s no reason for your skin not to love the rich, nourishing products. The strong signature lavender, rose and geranium scents evoke images of English gardens, while the weighty apothecary-style packaging and DIY labels are a reminder of the brands’ rich heritage and artisanal roots. Using a Neal’s Yard product makes you feel like you’re part of something quintessentially British – and rather special.
Hero products: Tranquillity Scented Candle (420g, £45), Daily De-stress Face, Body and Hair Oil (100ml, £32), Great Day™ Body Scrub (332ml, £34) all available at: www.neomorganics.com
Standout treatments: De-Stress Treatment (60 minutes, £70) at Neom Organics Wimbledon, London. Luxury Organic Massage (75 minutes, £87) at The Woodland Spa, Lancashire. Energise Treatment (60 minutes, £90) at Rockliffe Hall, County Durham.
Journalist Nicola Elliott made her own aromatherapy oil blends while working at a national magazine to help alleviate stress and boost energy levels. She teamed up with business partner Oliver Mennell, their initials forming the name, and launched Neom in 2005.
Now, 10 years later, Neom offers a select range of home fragrances and bath and body products. All use natural ingredients and essences designed to have a positive effect on your mood. Products are 100 per cent natural, contain high levels of organic essential oils and are cruelty-free.
Neom opened its signature store in Wimbledon less than a year ago, and offers four wellbeing treatments; Happiness, Energise, Sleep and De-stress.
They say: “Scent to make you feel good.”
We say: Neom is a great British brand, which offers high quality aromatherapy products. The candles make gorgeous gifts… if you can bear to part with them!
Hero products: Huile Prodigeuse® Spray (100ml, £28), Crème Fraîche® de Beauté Masque (50ml, £18.50), Rêve de Miel® Ultra-Nourishing Lip Balm (15ml, £9.50) all available at: uk.nuxe.com
Standout treatments: Prodigeuse Treatment (80 minutes, £135), Radiance Facial (50 minutes, £80), Nuxellence Treatment with Flowers and Precious Plants (80 minutes, £135) all at Agua at Sanderson Hotel, London.
Entrepreneur Aliza Jabès discovered Nuxe, a small formulation laboratory in Paris in the early 1990s, and decided to make it the springboard for launching a beauty brand which would bring together nature and luxury. Years later, she’s scooping up business and consumer awards left, right and centre, while being compared to Penelope Cruz in Paris Match.
The product range targets most skin types, anti-aging (Nuxellence®and Nirvanesque®), sun damage and men, while the philosophy is a balance of natural active ingredients, performance driven patents (the company currently has 45 patents and is expanding every year) and sensual textures and aromas.
They say: “When nature’s brilliance meets glamour. Nuxe thinks that all women are incredible.”
We say: One of our Spa Spies is helplessly addicted to the Huile Prodigeuse®. This dry oil sprays on, dries quickly and smells so good (if you like a musky, warm, nutty fragrance) it inspired Prodigeaux® le Parfum. The range is affordable too.
Hero products: Queen of Hungary Mist (£48, 100ml), Deep Cleansing Mask (£48, 50ml), Thermal Cleansing Balm (£60, 50ml), available from: www.omorovicza.com/uk
Standout treatments: Blue Diamond Facial (80 minutes, £275) at the Four Seasons Park Lane, London.
Omorovicza (pronounced Oh-moro-veet-zah) is the Hungarian skincare line with a bit of a fairytale romance attached. Stephen Omorvicza (he’s a prince) met his wife Margaret (presumably the princess) when she was chief of staff to the American Ambassador. Stephen courted her by taking her to the famous thermal spas in the Hungarian capital, where she noticed a dramatic improvement to her skin. Hungary is directly above a uniquely thin section of the earth’s crust, so there are natural warm water with higher concentrations of minerals. The couple created a patented delivery system, established the Omorovicza Spa in Budapest and developed their skincare range. The original Hydro Mineral collection now sits alongside the Moor Mud collection and is designed to detoxify; the Gold collection is said to heal and the Blue Diamond collection is designed to combat ageing. With two new products launching this spring – and the collections ever expanding – you can expect exciting things from Omorovicza.
They say: “Omorovicza is a skincare brand unlike any other. Its story is one of healing natural ingredients, cutting-edge scientific innovation and rich heritage.”
We say: This chic-looking, luxurious brand is a real treat. From the frosted, weighty glass packaging to the unique blend of ingredients, the rich heritage and its potent scent, Omorovicza really stands out from the crowd. The Queen of Hungary Mist is a desk and handbag staple; a quick spritz freshens up the complexion and the delightful aromatic scent picks you from an afternoon slump. If it was good enough for the Queen of Hungary, it’s certainly good enough for a well-seasoned Spa Spy.
A Japanese hot spring used to bathe. Onsens are traditionally used for public bathing, but some may have private amenities. Some are relatively plain and indoors, others have glorious views over mountain ranges. You will be expected to thoroughly clean yourself in the public showers before entering the very hot water, entirely nude. Not one for the fainthearted!
Hero products: Renaissance Cleansing Gel (100ml, £29.50), Super 16 Pro-Collagen Super Serum (30ml, £82), Renaissance Mask (50ml, £49.50) all available at: www.oskiaskincare.com
Standout treatments: Rejuvenating Facial (55 minutes, £105) at The Berkeley, London. Ultimate Luxury Facial (60 minutes, £95) at The Pig on the Beach, Dorset. Glow on the Go (45 minutes, £70) at The Cliveden Spa, Berkshire.
Food journalist Georgie Cleeve founded London-based skincare brand Oskia having witnessed the benefits of its main ingredient, MSM (Methyl Sulphonyl Methane) aka ‘The Beauty Mineral’. Her father originally introduced MSM as a joint supplement for race horses. But when Georgia took it to help repair serious damage to her cartilage after a skiing accident, she also noticed its extraordinary effects on her skin, nails and hair. Thus the concept of the brand was born.
In addition to MSM and essential cell nutrients, vitamins and minerals, Oskia products also contain a host of actives including Swiss apple stem cells, peptides, as well as prebiotics, hyaluronic and Immortelle Bleue, which help combat ageing and environmental damage. Oskia is all about harnessing natural ingredients from around the world to boost skin cell health — their Super 16 Pro-Collagen Super Serum contains bakuchiol, for example, derived from an Indian seed traditionally used to heal head cuts.
They say: “Oskia products are nutritionally-designed to improve the skin’s condition from both inside and outside.”
We say: Although we take all skincare ‘science’ with a pinch of organic sodium, the lovely effects of Oskia products are hard to argue with. Each product does what it says on its beautifully elegant label.
A stream of pressurised oxygen used in facials and body treatments, believed to cleanse and revitalise skin.
During oxygen therapy your skin will be blasted with high pressure oxygen; the jets might feel a little cold. The theory is that it can drive vitamins and nutrients into the skin and increase the absorption of moisture. Oxygen therapy often has an instantaneous, albeit temporary, plumping effect.
The word ‘parafango’ is a portmanteau of paraffin (as in wax) and fango (mineral rich mud), which are the two main ingredients of this body wrap treatment. The paraffin is there to maintain heat and intensify the de-toxifying effects of the sea mud. Most popularly used to target specific areas of cellulite, fat cells and fluid retention and to sculpt the body.
Good for: Fighting cellulite; inch loss; toning; circulation
Hero products: Ligne Lavendou (30ml, £58), Power Repair® Age Correction Marine Collagen Cream (50ml, £68), Ligne Spéciale Enzymo-Sphérides Cream (50ml, £35) all available at www.pevonia.co.uk
Standout treatments: Prescriptive Facial (60 minutes, £50) at SK Clinic, Suffolk.
Husband and wife Philippe and Sylvie Hennessy launched Pevonia in 1991 and grew the company to corner over 50 per cent of the professional skincare market in the USA. The name comes from a mythological flower filled with a magical essence that can cure all ills, and thus Pevonia products are packed with pure, eco-friendly plant-based ingredients, free from nasties.
Pevonia’s home collection offers over 75 products that incorporate the active ingredients found in professional treatments. Each line targets specific concerns and is peppered with trademark symbols.
As well as the extensive skincare range you’ll also find products for men, teens, even spa-inspired diffusers and accessories.
They say: “An extensive product and treatment line of holistic, botanical products containing the latest ingredient discoveries in precise, yet effective formations. Celebrity fans of Pevonia Botanica skincare include Angelina Jolie, Cate Blanchett, Matthew McConaughey, Cameron Diaz, Eva Mendes and Rachel Weisz.”
We say: The Power Repair Marine Collagen Cream is a god-send for dehydrated skin, brightening, tightening and plumping all in one go. It feels and smells luxurious, light and clean, and it works wonders: what else does a Spa Spy need?
Meaning ‘plant’ therapy, this is a term for healing treatments using botanical products (plants, herbs, seaweeds and essential oils). Commonly used for baths, massage, wraps, inhalation and even tea.
Good for: General health; soothing and detoxifying the skin
Pilates is a body-conditioning technique that strengthens muscles and improves balance and posture. Like yoga, Pilates involves you learning a series of poses and stretches and helps tone and strengthen your muscles; unlike yoga, Pilates does not usually involve meditation and is not an aerobic exercise. Devised by Joseph Pilates in the 1920s, Pilates aims to teach you how to use your muscles properly to protect and support you, preventing injury and strain... Read more >
Hero products: Sweet Orange and Neroli Body Balm (90g, £32.95), Rosehip Face and Body Scrub (60g, £32), Anti-Ageing Deep Cleanse Melt (60g, £42) all available at: www.pinksboutique.com
Standout treatments: Full Body Massage (55 minutes, £60) at Tempus Spa at The Oxfordshire, Oxfordshire.
Pinks Boutique has unusually cerebral beginnings for a beauty product. Co-founders and husband and wife team Luke Sherriff and Kirstie Allen first met at Oxford University. Their shared love of travel, particularly Asia, and organic food and products developed into Pinks Boutique organic skincare range, which in the early days they used to blend at home.
Now their ranges for face, hands, body and feet are all made in England using natural ingredients accredited by the Soil Association. Each range is inspired by research of traditional Asian spa cultures.
Pinks Boutique products are not tested on animals and are all vegetarian friendly. The company also uses environmentally-friendly packaging.
They say: “Every aspect of the Pinks Boutique – from our organic products to our responsible business practices – are driven by our ethical values and strong belief in beauty, nature and truth.”
We say: Pinks Boutique are a spa brand with a passionately organic heart and Asian-inspired flourishes. Their use of essential oils and herbs makes the products robustly and sumptuously aromatic, instantly transporting you to an Asian spa.
A two-therapist massage using warm herbal oils.
A poultice is a muslin bag tightly-packed with aromatic herbs, or other therapeutic ingredients such as salts or clay. The poultice is usually warmed and is sometimes dipped in fragrant oils, before being used as a compress or massage tool. Old folk remedies suggest that herbal poultices were believed to help heal by drawing out poison or toxins from the body. Poultices are now generally used to warm and relax muscles, to help ease aches and pains.
A specialist pregnancy massage which helps ease aches and pains, and boost your mood. Carried out by an expert practitioner, you may find that you are massaged on a treatment bed with a gap for your bump, a large cushion or on a treatment mat on the floor. Your therapist is likely to use Swedish massage techniques, as this form of massage employs gliding strokes and gentle kneading designed to improve your blood and lymphatic circulation, soothe your muscles and make you feel more relaxed... Read more >
Pressure point manipulation is part of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Your therapist will apply pressure to a range of particular points around your body which correspond with all the organs, glands, tissues and muscles. This helps improve circulation of blood, oxygen and 'Qi' around the body, relieving stress and healing pain in other parts of the body.
Qi (say "chee") is "energy" that some people believe flows along the meridians that map your body. The theory is that when your Qi is flowing properly, you are balanced, well and healthy in mind, body and spirit.
Good for: Unlocking pain and knots in the muscles; relieving tension in the spirit!
Hero products: Day Collagen (30ml, £67), Night Collagen (30ml, £67), Exfoliant Fluid (30ml, £67), all available from: www.qmsmedicosmetics.com
Standout treatments: The Lowry Hotel Signature (80 minutes, £110) and SkinEnergy Treatment (60 minutes, £65) both at The QMS Skin Spa at Lowry Hotel, Manchester.
QMS Medicosmetics is the brain child of cosmetic surgeon Dr Erich Schulte who began research into wound healing, and turned to science to create topical products with soluble collagen, designed to help improve the skin’s elasticity and appearance following surgery. At the bequest of his patients, he then put this into a range of anti-ageing skincare, the collagen-enhancing process now the foundation of the brand.
His medi-cosmetic skincare lines combine cutting-edge science with collagen proteins alongside plant stem cells, vitamins and minerals, silk proteins, anti-oxidants and other ingredients designed to improve the appearance and wellbeing of the skin in both the long- and short-term. The three ranges of antiageing skincare for 25+, 35+ and 50+ sit alongside targeted products and treatments to address specific skincare concerns.
They say:“My vision was to design a complete system of rejuvenating skincare that combines revolutionary techniques and highest quality ingredients.”
We say: While the product names and pharmaceutical-style containers may look a little intimidating, QMS Medicosmetics products are actually simple to use and incredibly effective. What’s more, the classic collagen set didn’t irritate Summer Spy’s problematic skin; in fact her skin was plumper, softer and more radiant. Slick the day and night collagen on cleansed skin for an anti-ageing hit. Use the exfoliating fluid like a mask three times a week, working your way up to every night for super fresh skin.
A traditional Arabian body treatment involving steam and mud. Mineral-rich muds of various colours are applied to the skin. You sit in a tiled steam room for around 15 minutes, then the mud is washed off with cool water. You will sweat out toxins and be left feeling both relaxed and wide awake. This is an unusual and deeply sensual treatment... Read more >
Good for: Warming and soothing muscles; softening the skin
This ‘alternative’ therapy works on the principle that certain points on your feet (and hands) correspond to all the organs, glands, tissues and muscles in the rest of your body. By applying informed pressure to these points, practitioners claim to be able to treat and heal medical conditions from migraines to breathing difficulties and unblock Qi... Read more >
Good for: Back and muscle strain; sports injuries; stress; anxiety; depression
Meaning ‘universal life-force/spiritual energy’, REIKI is a gentle, holistic form of healing therapy based on the idea of balance and Qi. It is done in normal clothing. The practitioner channels their own REIKI into your body by laying their hands on or near you... Read more >
Good for: Believers consider that it helps with stress
Is usually a long, luxurious full body treatment, involving soft music, subtle lighting and aromatherapy oils. Your therapist will use all kinds of techniques, including long strokes, gentle kneading and rolling and rhythmic rocking... Read more >
Good for: ndulging; relaxing; encouraging blood flow
Hero products: Glycolactic Radiance Renewal Mask (50ml, £32), Instant Brightening Beauty Shot Eye Lift (15ml, £30), Flash Rinse One Minute Facial (75ml, £32), all available from: renskincare.com
Ren Radiance Facial (75 minutes, £85) and the Ren Moroccan Rose Ritual (150 minutes, £145) both at Longueville Manor, Jersey.
REN skincare was founded by Antony Buck and Robert Calcraft, both in advertising, when Buck was looking for a product that would suit his wife’s problematic skin. Following a partnership with a French pharmacist, Ren launched their first line of skincare in 30 countries in 2000.
The literal translation of Ren from Swedish means ‘clean’, so naturally their products are 100 per cent plant based, free from unfriendly chemical ingredients, yet high tech, efficient and modern. Each product has a unique texture and fragrance, while its seven different skincare lines target a range of skin concerns – all colour coded for ease of use. Ren is not only popular with beauty editors but the brand boasts fans such as Kate Moss, Jude Law and Uma Therman.
They say: “Ren’s philosophy of Clean Skincare can be summed up in three words: performance, purity, pleasure – for healthier skin that looks younger for longer.”
We say: The fact that Ren has an advertising origin should come as no surprise – it’s probably one of the most well-known and respected ‘natural’ skincare products on the shelves. They have transformed the notion of clean beauty into something fit for the modern, busy world. The Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask and Flash Rinse One Minute Facial should be staples for anyone wanting, bright, fresh and clear skin in an instant. It’s faff-free, reliable and classy skincare.
Standout treatments: Rodial Oxygen Facial (£78) at The Boutique Spa, Kent.
Based in London, Rodial wanted to offer a convincing alternative to plastic surgery, focusing on instant results skin care and make-up. Beauty journalist Maria Hatzistefanis founded the company in 1999, and clearly has an eye for headline-grabbing sensationalist product names and descriptions – Super Fit Boob Job gel, Bee Venom and Placenta 24 Carat Gold Ultimate Crème (a mere £750 that one) and so on. Rodial have had their knuckles rapped over the years by the Advertising Standards Industry, although that hasn’t stopped them. You kind of have to admire their sass.
We say: The hero products we tried produced pretty impressive, albeit short term results. We’d need to take out a second mortgage to invest in the long term. It clearly takes attitude and cash to be a full time Rodial client, but then if you do have the guts to do Bee Venom and Placenta, this is a good step to take before going under the knife. We like the humour and the fact the products dare to be different.
Named after its creator, Ida Rolf, this bodywork technique aims to improve balance and flexibility. Uses assisted stretches and other gentle manipulations of muscles, with treatment usually mapped out over ten sessions.
Also known as halotherapy ('halo' is the Greek word for salt), salt therapy involves simply breathing in salty air. You can experience this natural treatment in a spa in a salt-steam room or salt cave, where the steam is infused with salt, and sometimes essential oils. At some spas in the UK you might also find yourself swimming in a salt-water pool. Salt water is gentler on your skin than bathing in a chlorine-regulated pool, and it doesn't sting your eyes... Read more >
Good for: Hayfever; bronchitis; asthma; eczema
A sanarium is somewhere between a sauna and a steam room, with temperatures somewhere between 40 to 60 degrees Celsius, and around 50 per cent humidity: it should feel like a nice day on a beach. Aromatherapy oils may be added for a more pleasant scent.
Good for: Boosting circulation and metabolism; cleansing and toning; boosting the immune system
A sauna uses dry heat to trigger a low grade fever response, boosting your circulation and immune system which provides faster relief from muscular tensions, aches and pains. They offer a more extreme, dry heat than steam rooms – temperatures are usually between 85 to 95 degrees Celsius – using hot rocks either in an exposed grate or ‘oven’. You can usually regulate the temperature by scooping water from a bucket over the hot rocks using a ladle.
Saunas are traditionally associated with mountainous regions and you would complete your sauna treatment by rolling around in the snow to return your body to its normal temperature. Most spas offer experience showers, plunge pools or ice fountains instead.
Different types of sauna include Tyrolean, Finnish/Swedish, rock, infra-red, plus banya and laconium... Read more >
Good for: Boosting circulation, relaxing muscles
Also known as a body polish, a scrub is a whole-body exfoliation treatment. Abrasive products – usually salts, sugars, ground rice or seeds – are massaged into or brushed over the body, often mixed in warm oils. The scrub is showered off at stages throughout the treatment. A body scrub may be used in other treatments, perhaps to prepare the skin for an even tan or to open the pores ready for a hydrating wrap... Read more >
Good for: Moisturising skin; boosting circulation; improving skin tone
Seaweed is a traditional ‘sailor’s cure’ for cuts, aches and pains dating back to ancient Polynesia, while seaweed baths have been a part of French thalassotherapy (aka marine treatments) since the 19th Century. Seaweed may look slimy and unappealing, but it is rich with minerals drawn from the sea, and reacts to protein to form a gel emollient.
Good for: Dryskin; cuts and abrasions; aching muscles
A serail is a small, tiled, Arabian-style steam room, or ‘chamber’, often used for mud treatments. Different kinds of cleansing mud are applied, one each to your body, face and scalp. Covered in mud, you then take a seat in the serail/steam room and the combination of heat and mud deep-cleanses your skin and soothes your deepest muscles. After about 15 minutes, just as the mud starts to slip and melt over your body, you have a cool shower to rinse it away... Read more >
A neurotransmitter located in your gut, serotonin is also known as the "happy hormone" (although it is not actually a hormone, it is a compound derived from amino acids), and is associated with feelings of wellbeing.
A gel, cream, or oil-based skincare product designed to target specific skincare concerns. A serum is usually applied after cleansing and toning, and before moisturiser, so the active ingredients have direct contact with the skin. Formulations are usually lighter than moisturising creams, and leave little trace on the skin.
A Japanese holistic treatment. The practitioner will use their fingers, elbow, knees and feet to press on the body’s meridian lines or pressure points... Read more >
Also known as Indian head massage and champissage, this ancient treatment has been practised in India for thousands of years. Part of the Hindu practice of Ayurveda, Indian head massage focuses on your head, neck and shoulders, combining chakra-cleansing massage with the aromatic power of essential oils. It uses a variety of techniques to tap into your seven chakras (meridians/paths of energy) and encourage healing and balance in your whole body.
A strong and deep massage that can be quite physically challenging. Designed to release tension, prevent or treat injury, and enhance sporting performance, it’s not for the faint-hearted... Read more >
Good for: Relaxing your muscles; relieving any swelling around joints
A steam room is exactly that – a room full of steam – but they also vary a great deal. Smaller steam rooms are usually tiled with seating running around the edge of the room. Most will automatically fill with steam on a timer, but you may have to press a button outside to initiate the steam in some smaller spas. Larger dedicated steam areas can be huge and have lots of rooms of different temperatures for you to move through on your journey: this is typical of big spas in Morocco or Turkey.
Steam rooms are normally heated to around 45 degrees Celsius, but it can feel more intense because of the moisture in the air. In some steam rooms you’ll find a pipe or tap; use this water to cool yourself off. Some steam rooms are infused with aromatherapy oils, or are lined with bricks of salt, which is said to be good for your sinuses and conditions such as asthma. Some also have crystals or rocks, as the minerals within them could be beneficial to health... Read more >
Good for: Muscle relaxing; clearing sinuses; drawing out toxins; cleansing
Standout treatments: Bespoke Su-Man Skin Reborn Sculpting Facial (60 minutes, £250) at Away Spa, W London and Su-Man’s Private Studio.
Former dancer and Shiatsu master Su-Man decided other skincare products were not giving her the ‘effortless power’ she was seeking. This prompted her to go back to her roots as a farm girl in Taiwan and experiment with natural products. She took the results to two leading chemists in Taiwan and France to be refined for a wider market.
Her signature mixture of Asian and Western skincare that promises nonsurgical results has taken the Hollywood red carpet and beauty media by storm. It was described as “pilates for the face” by Joely Richardson and “life-changing” according to Anne Hathaway. Key ingredients include Dragon’s Blood, a tree resin that has been used by Amazonian tribes as a healing treatment for centuries, and is said to have powerful protective and regenerative properties.
We say: We’ve found Su Man products to be impressive, fresh and light. Although not cheap, a little goes a long way.
Many hydrotherapy pools are fitted with pipes that pump high-pressure jets of water at you. Swan pipes are so-called because they have the gracefully curved shape of swans' necks.
A Swedish massage involves stroking, kneading, rubbing, tapping and vibration. Probably what springs to mind when you think of ‘typical’ massage... Read more >
Good for: Improving circulation; soothing your muscles
A tanning treatment will turn your skin golden brown in a fraction of the time that it would take you to do it naturally. It is a much healthier way to tan than using a sunbed or sitting in the sun. Also, spray tans look much more even when applied by a professional... Read more >
Good for: Making you look like you’ve been on holiday; preparing for a holiday or event
Hero products: Skin Truffle Total Face Rejuvenation (50ml, £85), Repose Aromatherapy Resting Cream (50ml, £39), Be Strong Skin Serum (30ml, £35) all available from www.templespa.com
An English brand inspired by the Mediterranean healthy lifestyle, developed in laboratories on the lakes of Geneva and Italy, and seasoned with herbs from Suffolk. Temple Spa is owned by husband and wife team Liz and Mark Warom.
The wide range of Temple Spa products are age, sex and lifestyle appropriate, results-driven, but eco-friendly too, drawing on botanical actives from Southern Europe. They range from the sublime, such as the award winning Skin Truffle range, to the slightly more reasonable shower gels and shampoos. Ingredients are cruelty free and mostly vegan. Good for your skin and the environment — what more could a girl ask for?
They say:"Your body is a living temple. Honour it, enjoy your life and live it to the full.”
We say: Temple Spa products are used at some of our favourite spas. The products we have tried look sophisticated, smell deeply, but not overpoweringly, of fresh herbs and essential oils. And they feel luxuriant, with visible smoothing and firming effects.
Thai Herbal Heat Treatment
Relaxing and aromatic, this treatment features a massage using essential oils and hot poultices of sweet-smelling herbs placed on pressure points around the body... Read more >
Good for: Full body relaxation – a real zone-out treatment
Thai massage works with meridian energy lines (‘sen’) within the body, and uses a combination of pressure point compression and rhythmic muscle stretching to encourage energy flow. It is traditionally performed on a mat on the floor, loosely clothed. Thai therapists will use their hands, feet, elbows, forearms and knees to administer the technique and adjust the rhythm to suit the client... Read more >
Good for: Releasing muscular tension; improving joint mobility; easing emotional and physical stress
From the Greek word for ‘sea’, thalassotherapy refers to a variety of treatments that use seawater, seaweed and other marine derivatives such as algae, mud and sand. Available as single spa treatments in the UK, or devoted thalassotherapy resorts abroad, the term encompasses hydrotherapy, (mineral rich showers, hydro-massage, and seawater pools) and algotherapy (seaweed, mud and algae baths and wraps), all of which aim to restore your body to a state of serenity fit for a mermaid... Read more >
Good for: Toning muscles; cleansing skin; reducing the appearance of cellulite
Hero products: Thalgo Pure Velvet Cleansing Cream (150ml, £24.95), Thalgo Hydra-Marine 24h Cream (50ml, £39.50), Thalgo Freshness Exfoliator (50ml, £26) all available at www.thalgo.co.uk
Standout treatments: Frigi-Thalgo Leg Wrap (25 minutes, £45) at Champneys Tring. Thalgo Prescriptive Facial (60 minutes, £95) at Chuan Spa at the Langham, London. Polynesia Spa Ritual (85 minutes, £95) at Donnington Valley Spa, Berkshire.
As French as Jacques Cousteau, Thalgo Laboratories have been creating marine products since 1964 and work closely with renowned phycologists (algae experts) conducting marine exploration and research. Their oceanic range includes wraps, creams, exfoliants, bath products, teas, supplements and candles. Each product targets specific concerns, including anti-aging, slimming, anti-cellulite, sun protection and detoxifying. They also have products specifically for men.
They’ve recently launched a cosmeceutical range if you like your spa treatments with a kick. Try the Mceutic Rénovation Radicale for “visible effects on the skin with proven and measured results”.
They say: “Each product is a genuine concentrate of marine effectiveness.”
We say: Thalgo products represent really good value in the high-end spa world. The results are notable especially on mature skins. And it’s ever so chic, something we imagine Catherine Deneuve would have on her dressing table. The ranges work well across problem skin too — the Hydra Marine Cream is perfect even on oily skin.
Also known as ear candling or Hopi ear candling, this involves the insertion of a rolled cotton therapy tube filled with beeswax, honey and herb extracts into your auditory canal while you lie on your side. The therapist lights the candle and allows it to burn down over the course of sucks impurities out of the ear canal. The warm smoke gently vibrates and gives a pleasant massage effect to the ear drum. Many medical experts consider this procedure to be of little or no benefit, and potentially dangerous if carelessly applied.
Good for: Said to reduce excess earwax and build-up of catarrh during colds and flu; tinnitus; sinusitis
An unusual massage technique from northern Thailand. The therapist will use two wooden tools: the first a long flat piece of wood curved on one end, the second is weighted. Your therapist will use the gently curved tool to work along your back and shoulder blades, tapping as she goes along – almost like a chisel and hammer!
Good for: Athletes or people with a lot of tension
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is based on a series of beliefs dating back more than 2,500 years. It is a holistic medical system encompassing herbal medicine, acupuncture, massage, exercise and dietary regulation. TCM works on the principle that the body has vital energy, or QI, that runs through the body by channels, or meridians. Branches of meridians connect to organs, muscles, tissues and glands, so by manipulating points on the meridian, you can affect the corresponding point on the body. Not many UK spas offer traditional TCM treatments, such as acupuncture or cupping, but many offer TCM-inspired treatments including acupressure and Tui Na massage.
Hero products: Calm Face Cream (60ml, £36), Skin Softening Wash (250ml, £16.50), Palmarosa and Grapefruit Cleanser (200ml, £21) all available at: www.tri-dosha.co.uk
Standout treatments: Shiodhora (30 minutes, £95) at SenSpa, New Forest, Hampshire. Mukabhayanga Facial Massage (30 minutes, £45) at The Scarlet Spa, Cornwall
Tri Dosha specialises in ayurvedic products and treatments. Founder Sunita Passi trained in Ayurveda in India and has spent the past 10 years researching meditation and holistic health. You and your therapist will tailor or choose your treatment around your dosha, or energy type.
Because Ayurveda is so deeply entwined with the brand, if you’re at a spa which uses Tri Dosha you’re likely to find holistic programmes, Ayurvedic literature and nutrition advice too. The products are natural and organic with many wild crafted and therapeutic herbs.
The skin care ranges are tailored to your dosha type, including facial essentials, oils, shampoo and conditioners. We also love the balms; the Miracle Balm is perfect if you have dry or irritable skin and the Pain Balm is an ayurvedic remedy to warm up muscles, soothe aching joints and even clear your airways during a cold.
They say:“Everything has been lovingly-created to deliver real, tangible results with a touch of luxury.”
We say: The products are fresh, soothing and as good for the environment as our skin! Because the products are so based on herbs they can be stronger smelling than others! If you want to adopt a more holistic change to your skincare routine, Tri Dosha is the way forward.
Chinese medical massage, Tui Na aims to exchange energies between the client and therapist to bring balance and wellbeing. "Tui Na" means "push pull" and the therapist uses a combination of massage techniques, including acupressure, manipulation and assisted stretches. You receive Tui Na wearing loose clothes.
An Ayurvedic slimming treatment involving deep massage with herbal powders.
In spas, ultrasound is used to exfoliate the skin. The theory is that sound waves vibrate at a very high speed, thoroughly cleansing your skin. Ultrasound in a spa facial can feel tingly but shouldn’t be painful.
Also known as an affusion shower, a Vichy shower is a long, tube-like piece of equipment with a series of small shower heads along the underside. A light, warm, mineral-rich shower of water is sprayed or sprinkled over your body as you are lying down on a treatment table.
Good for: Relaxing; cleansing
A spa treatment that uses the by-products of wine making such as grape pips and grape pulp. Grape pips may be used for exfoliation, and extracts from grapes and vines are believed to have an anti-ageing effect on the skin.
Hero products: Get Glowing Marine Face Mask (50ml, £32), Me Time Facial Moisturiser (50ml, £51), Lazy Days Seaweed Bath (500g, £16) all available at www.voya.ie
Voya’s big selling point is the use of organic, hand-harvested Irish seaweed and algae in its products and treatments. Being family owned and proud of its local and green credentials adds to its charm. It was founded by Irish triathlete Neil Watson, a convert to the healing properties of seaweed baths. He and his family decided to revive this local tradition and in 2000, opened the Voya seaweed bathhouse in their home village Strandhill, County Silgo.
The name means voyage, as customers likened the treatments to a sea journey. The product range was launched in 2006,and covers everything from baths and wraps, to scrubs and facials. Most use seaweed as well as other organic and non-organic ingredients (enough to earn them a Soil Association certificate).
They say:“Organic beauty from the sea.”
We say: The Spa Spies have noticed positive results using Voya products, particularly from the scrubs and lip balms. Voya is perfect for those with dry or aging skin and a love of organic and sustainable products.
Shiatsu in warm water. The massage takes place in a pool and uses deep acupressure techniques and long slow rhythmic strokes.
Good for: Rehabilitation after injury; coping with arthritis; relaxation
Similar to a Jacuzzi, a whirlpool features warm water, underwater jets to massage your body, and constantly moving water.
A spa treatment that involves the application of a therapeutic body mask, before the body is wrapped in a covering such as towels, a foil or plastic blanket, or bandages. The body mask may be aimed at toning the body, hydrating or firming the skin, relaxing and soothing the muscles, or cleansing. The covering is to keep in warmth, to stop the body mask from drying quickly, or to compress the body to give the appearance of weight loss... Read more >
Good for: Detoxifying; relaxing and revitalising; temporary inch loss
Yoga is an ancient exercise system involving deep breathing, intense movements and stretches, and some meditation to bring physical strength and emotional calm. Yoga is a Sanskrit word essentially meaning 'union', which describes its holistic approach to balancing and bringing strength to your mind and body through a series of physical exercises. A beginners' class should introduce you to the basic theory of yoga, and guide you gently through some basic positions and circular breathing techniques.... Read more >
Good for: Flexibility; relaxation; can improve posture and muscle tone
Hero products: Urban Shield Serum (30ml, £55), Deep Calm Body Oil (100ml, £35), Deep Calm Pillow Mist (100ml, £55), all available from: www.ytsara.com
Standout treatments: Ultimate Serenity Treatment (105 minutes, £140), Urban Shield Facial (60 minutes, £90) and Siamese Healing Herb Massage (90 minutes, £130) all available at Serenity Spa at Seaham Hall, County Durham.
Ytsara (meaning freedom in Thai) was founded in 2001 by Florence Jaffre and Marie Cadouin. Jaffre was born in the South of France to biochemist and botanist parents, and developed an interest in Asian healing traditions while working on an Asian rice plantation. Cadouin worked in Bangkok supplying spa equipment. The aim was to harness rare bio-actives with centuries-old wisdom, designed to help stressed city dwellers feel good about themselves while instilling a sense of wellness.
Each product contains a blend of naturally-occurring and sustainable bioactive ingredients which are mindfully sourced and free of harmful synthetic compounds. The range is 100 per cent natural, harvested from Thailand, and caters for most skincare needs. Ytsara supports the Asian Indigenous People Act while promoting the traditional and effective use, and preservation, of indigenous lands, forests and other natural resources. The underlying principle of mindfulness means that the environment and the consumer are at the heart of everything they do.
They say:“Ytsara is a mindful beauty brand with a holistic approach that respects both our inner ecosystem and our earth.”
We say: This divine, holistic brand is powered by some of nature’s finest ingredients. With soft textured products and gentle earthy scents, Ytsata transforms your bathroom into a spa, encouraging you to relax and take a few moments away from everyday life. Supreme Spy loved her Tok Sen treatment, which uses a wooden hammer and chisel to chip away at your tension, as well as her bamboo massage and ‘Yoga facial’.