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.
Hero products: Night Serum (30ml, £35), Deep Cleansing Oil (100ml, £35), Relaxing Body Lotion (100ml, £17) all available at: www.afyna.co.uk
Standout treatments: Afyna Rejuventating Facial (60 minutes, £65), Ultimate Relaxation Massage (75 minutes, £75), Cornish Body Polish (30 minutes, £39) all at St Michaels Hotel and Spa, Cornwall.
Afyna means “to beautify” in old Cornish. Afyna products will not only feel beautiful on your skin, they’re also certified organic, ethically sourced and produced (no animal testing), and won’t contain any skincare nasties such as parabens or SLS. So just as good for your conscience as your complexion!
There’s a full range of facial skincare (we adore the Night Serum and Deep Cleansing Oil) and body treats including super nourishing bath and body oils. Every product is handmade in Cornwall with simple, clean aromas and textures. And they’re easy to use. There’s no YouTube tutorials here, just honest products at reasonable prices.
We say: The products are a joy to use with a lovely scent and visible results. If you’re a fan of all things natural and organic you will love using Afyna. Try a treatment for a Cornish inspired treat.
Hero products: Exfoliating Mask (75ml, £42), Botanical Milk (125ml, £33) Eye Express Radiance Ice Cubes (254ml, £43) all available at: www.annesemonin.com
Standout treatments: Made to Measure Facial (60 minutes, £96) at Lucknam Park Hotel and Spa, Wiltshire. Le Vintage (25 minutes, £40) at Spa Verta, London. Anti-Stress Back Therapy (55 minutes, £75) at The Langdale Spa, Cumbria.
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 products are developed in collaboration with top French laboratories and address facial skincare and body treats.
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.
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.
Hero products: Nourishing Facial Oil (15ml, £45), Overnight Repair Mask (50ml, £59), Relax Deep Bath and Shower Oil (55ml, £45) available from: www.aromatherapyassociates.com
Standout treatments: The Ultimate Aromatherapy Experience (60 minutes, £75) at Carbis Bay Hotel and Spa, Cornwall. Rose Prescriptive Facial (55 minutes, £70) at Calcot Spa, Gloucestershire.
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.
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.
Hero products: HY-ÖL (200ml, £22), Enzyme Cleanser (75ml, £19), HSR Extra Firming Eye Cream (30ml, £59) all available from: uk.babor.com
Standout treatments: Gentle Rebalance Facial (60 minutes, £75) at The Mere Golf Resort and Spa, Cheshire. Detoxifying and Clarifying Back Treatment (30 minutes, £33) at Ufford Park, Suffolk.
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 of 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.
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.
A fancy term for a warm mineral bath. The body is massaged by strong jets of hot and cold water.
Hero products: Geranium Body Cream (200ml, £35), 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, £150) at Herb House Spa at Lime Wood, Hampshire. Deep Tissue Massage (55 minutes, £110) 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 launched the high-end brand in 2006.
The beauty range centres around soaps, body washes and bath oils formulated with high quality, mainly natural ingredients. Bamford operates three spas, with products available to buy online and through several stores and retailers. If you want the true Bamford experience, head to Bamford Haybarn; a haven of holistic living from the food, treatments, products and clothing range.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Hero products: Fluide de Beauté 14 (100ml, £45.50), Diamond of Beauty (50ml, £430), Carita Eau de Parfum (50ml, £65), all available from: www.carita.co.uk
Standout treatments: CINETIC™ Lift Expert Facial (90 minutes, £146) at Lucknam Park Hotel and Spa, Wiltshire. Supreme Wrinkle Facial (55 minutes, £70) at The Lowry Hotel Spa, Manchester. Lagoon Hydration Facial (60 minutes, £100) at Sofitel So SPA, London.
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 strength to strength.
Carita is at the luxury end of the market, with its premium range priced from £260. It has also 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.
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.
Hero products: Beauty Elixir (100ml, £32), Vinoperfect Radiance Serum (30ml, £45), Premier Cru The Eye Cream (15ml, £49), 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 qualities 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, and shuns synthetic ingredients and skincare nasties. 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 an impressive collection of facial skincare, body products and suncare.
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.
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.
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.
Hero products: Beauty Flash Balm (50ml, £29), Huile Tonic (100ml, £40), Double Serum (30ml, £55), all available from: www.clarins.co.uk
Standout treatments: Clarins Men’s Muscle Ease Body Massage (55 minutes, £60) at Ragdale Hall Health Hydro and Spa, Leicestershire. Aromatic Facial (50 minutes, £60) at Stapleford Park, Leicestershire. Tri-Active Facial (80 minutes, £89) at Whittlebury Hall, Northamptonshire.
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 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,
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.
Hero products: Skin Regimen Juvenate-Pro Booster (30ml, £69), Body Strategist Scrub (200ml, £36), Skin Resonance Cream (50ml, £51), fi nd out more at: www.comfortzone.it
Standout treatments: Aromasoul Elements Massage (60 minutes, £90) at Rockliffe Hall, County Durham. Skin Resonance Facial (60 minutes, £70) at Armathwaite Hall Country House Hotel and Spa, Cumbria. New Life Pregnancy Massage (55 minutes, £75) at Spa Verta, London.
Comfort Zone was launched in 1996, as a sister company to the Italian haircare brand Davines. It is owned by the Bollati family, and 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.
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.
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.
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.
Hero products: INTRAL Toner (200ml, £27), 8-Flower Nectar (15ml, £95), Aromatic Cleansing Balm (40ml, £32), all available from: www.darphin.co.uk
Standout treatments: Intense Hydrating Facial (55 minutes, £75) at The Vineyard, Berkshire. Instant Skin Reviver (30 minutes, £50) at The Chester Grosvenor, Cheshire. Deep Rebalancing Full Body Massage (55 minutes, £82) at Stobo Castle Health Spa, Scottish Borders.
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 with high quantities of plant extracts.
The Darphin Institute in Paris delves into facial massage techniques including the Deep Massage which claims to be a natural facelift.
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!
Hero products: Aromessence Neroli Oil (15ml, £44), Hydra Floral Hydrating Light Cream (30ml, £25), Phytopeel Exfoliating Cream (50ml, £27.50), all available from: www.decleor.co.uk
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. Madagascar Escape Massage (55 minutes, £70) at Lifehouse Spa and Hotel, Essex.
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 created plant-based energy treatments for beauty salons.
Today, Decléor still use 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 and body and men’s products.
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 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.
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).
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: Cell Food Radiance and Vitality Serum (30ml, £45), Hand Nutrition Intensive Hand and Nail Repair Cream (75ml, £16), Tree Of Life Multi-Purpose Balm (100ml, £22), all available from www.elementalherbology.com
Standout treatments: The Elemental Massage (60 minutes, £95) at The Spa at Pennyhill Park Hotel, Surrey. Bio- Rejuvenating Facial (90 minutes, £85) at The Secret Garden Spa at Congham Hall, Norfolk.
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.
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, £39.50), Pro Collagen Marine Cream (50ml, £80), Frangipani Monoi Body Oil (100ml, £34) all available at: www.elemis.com
Standout treatments: Elemis Advanced Anti-Aging Facial (55 minutes, £75) at Moddershall Oaks, Staffordshire. Cellutox Aroma Spa Ocean Wrap (75 minutes, £79) at The Headland Spa, Cornwall. Elemis Face and Body Solution (55 minutes, £75) at Norton House Hotel and Spa, Edinburgh.
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.
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
Standout treatments: Back, Face and Scalp Treatment (90 minutes, £95) at The Spa at Bedford Lodge, Suffolk. Lifestage Intensive Lift Facial (90 minutes, £175) at Sequoia Spa at The Grove, Hertfordshire. Personalised Facial (60 minutes, £115) at ESPA Life at the Corinthia, London.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Hero products: Multi Regenerating Rosehip Oil (30ml, £36), Illuminating Detox Eye Formula (15ml, £45.95), X.Cel Retinage Filler (50ml, £95) all available at: www.germainede-capuccini.co.uk
Standout treatments: Black Diamond Facial (60 minutes, £95) Chuan Spa 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.
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’.
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: Hydradermie2 – The Star Treatment (55 minutes, £60) at Chakra Spa at The Felbridge Hotel, West Sussex. Aromatic Facial (50 minutes, £55) 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.
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".
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.
Also known as thermotherapy, hot stone massage uses heated basalt stones laid or rolled onto parts of your skin.
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.
A machine that drops crushed ice into a basin. Found in thermal suites, you can rub handfuls of the ice over your body to cool you down between heat treatments.
Hero products: Orange Blossom Candle for Higher Energy (200g, £40), Face Oil for Glowing Radiance (30ml, £75), Bath Salts for Inner Peace (500g, £49) all available at: www.ila-spa.com
Standout treatments: Ananda Face Therapy (60 minutes, £99) at Chewton Glen Spa, Hampshire. Ku Nye Massage (90 minutes, £146) at Lucknam Park Hotel and Spa, Wiltshire. Shining Jewel Vital Energy Treatment (85 minutes, £85) at Stanley House Hotel and Spa, Lancashire.
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 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.
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.
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.
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
Standout treatments: Ishga Seaweed Bath (30 minutes, £35) at Seaham Hall, County Durham. Ishga Hot Stone Massage (55 minutes, £85) at The Spa at Blythswood Square, Glasgow.
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.
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: Multi-Vitamin Day Crème (50ml, £48), Rehydrating Neroli Water (100ml, £31.50), Turkish Body Scrub With Eucalyptus (237ml, £36.50) 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, £120) at The Spa at Coworth Park, Berkshire. Caviar Facial (60 minutes, £155) 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.
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.
A Japanese facial massage technique using acupressure along the facial meridians.
Lava Shell massage is a type of heat treatment that uses Tiger-striped clam shells as a massage tool.
Hero products: V-Tox (50ml, £99), Hydrating Mist (40ml, £19), Q3 (50g, £69) all available at: www.lindameredith.com
Standout treatments: The Haute Couture Facial (£100), Linda Meredith O2 (£100) at Linda Meredith, Knightsbridge. Men’s Ultimate Deep Cleansing Facial (60 minutes, £99) 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 (75ml, £20), Original Body Soufflé (190ml, £43) find out more at www.moroccanoil.com
Standout treatments: Honey and Lavender Massage (55 minutes, £69) at Rookery Hall Hotel and Spa, Cheshire. Black Tie Affair (60 minutes, £125) at Spa Illuminata, London. Exfoliation Ritual (40 minutes, £59) at Fawsley Hall Hotel and Spa, Northamptonshire.
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 kernel 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 body products and treatments with beautifully inspired scents.
In 2014, Moroccanoil launched a campaign about inspiring women, following the journeys of six women, from an animal rights activist to entrepreneurs and an art therapist. We love the supportive and positive messaging from the brand.
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.
Hero products: Hydro Dynamic Ultimate Moisture (50ml, £64), Invisiblur Perfecting Shield (30ml, £55), AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser (200ml, £34) all available at: www.murad.co.uk
Standout treatments: AHA Rapid Exfoliator Facial (60 minutes, £57) at Thornton Hall, The Wirral. Resurgence Renewal Facial (50 minutes, £70) at Y Spa at Wyboston Lakes, Bedfordshire. Clearly Youthful Facial (60 minutes, £95) at The Peak Health Club and Spa, London.
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.
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.
Hero products: The Cure Sheer Cream (50ml, £143), Glycoline Extreme Peel (30ml, £199), Diamond Extreme Eye Cream (25ml, £160) all available at: www.naturabisse.com
Standout treatments: Citrus Sculpt (55 minutes, £120) at Sequoia Spa at The Grove, Hertfordshire. C+C Vitamin Facial (60 minutes, £65), at Stanley House Hotel and Spa, Lancashire. Diamond Experience Facial (80 minutes, £115), at Agua at Sanderson, London.
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.
We say: Natura Bissé products and treatments are an investment but they are worth it!
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 (55 minutes, £59) at Middlethorpe Hall and Spa, York. 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.
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: Nuxe Massage (50 minutes, £80), Radiance Facial (50 minutes, £80), Exceptional 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.
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: Renaissance Cleansing Gel (100ml, £28), Super 16 Pro-Collagen Super Serum (30ml, £80), Renaissance Mask (50ml, £48.50) all available at: www.oskiaskincare.com
Standout treatments: Rejuvenating Facial (55 minutes, £105) at The Berkeley, London. Ultimate Radiance Facial (65 minutes, £85) at Grayshott Health Spa, Surrey. Signature Glow Facial (75 minutes, £95) at The Orchard Spa at Lakes By Yoo.
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’. 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, prebiotics, hyaluronic and Immortelle Bleue which help combat aging and environmental damage. Oskia is all about harnessing natural ingredients from around the world to boost skin cell health.
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.
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.
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. Hydrating and Repairing Facial (60 minutes, £65) at The Club and Spa Hotel at The Cube, Birmingham. Tropical Saltmousse Scrub (45 minutes, £75) at The Peak Health Club and Spa, London.
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.
We say: Anything that’s good enough for Angelina Jolie is good enough for us!
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Hero products: Dragons Blood Advanced XXL Sculpting Serum (30 ml, £125), Stemcell Superfood Facial (30ml, £60) Glamoxy Snake Mask (50ml, £68) all available at: www.rodial.co.uk
Standout treatments: Sculpt (60 minutes, £68) 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.
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.
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.
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 tanning booth or tanning bed.
Hero products: Facial Cleanser (50ml, £26.95), Rose and Vanilla Face Oil (30ml, £23.95), Restorative Body Balm (100ml, £37.95) all available at www.spieziaorganics.com
Standout treatments: Head in Heaven (75 minutes, £93) at Rudding Park, Harrogate. Rose Indulgence Body Treatment (80 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.
Spiezia 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.
We say: Spiezia products look and smell good enough to eat – and they come with a free halo thanks to the brand’s eco and ethical conscience. Their cool funky jars don’t exactly scream organic until you open the lid, unleashing the essential oils.
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.
Hero products: Awakening Eye Uplift (15ml, £55), Exfoliating Facial Polish (125ml, £40), Purifying Cleansing Gel-Oil (125ml, £40) all available at: www.su-man.com
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.
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
Standout treatments: Repose Aromatherapy Facial (75 minutes, £85) at Weavers’ House Spa at The Swan at Lavenham Hotel, Suffolk. Skin Investment Facial (60 minutes, £90) at Dormy House Hotel and Spa, Worcestershire. Drift Away Massage (55 minutes, £88) at Bailiffscourt Spa, West Sussex.
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?
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 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.
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.
Hero products: Thalgo Pure Velvet Cleansing Cream (150ml, £24.95), Thalgo Hydra-Marine 24h Cream (50ml, £39), Thalgo Freshness Exfoliator (50ml, £26) all available at www.thalgo.co.uk
Standout treatments: Thalgo Algae Wrap (65 minutes, £100) at Stoke Park Spa, Buckinghamshire. Thalgo Prescriptive Facial (60 minutes, £95) at Chuan Spa at the Langham, London. Polynesia Spa Ritual (85 minutes, £93) 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”.
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.
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: Holistic Glow (60 minutes, £105) at Herb House Spa at Lime Wood, Hampshire. Mukabhayanga Facial Massage (30 minutes, £45) at The Scarlet Spa, Cornwall. Pinda Sweda massage (55 minutes, £92) at Utopia Spa at Rowhill Grange.
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 product ranges are tailored by your dosha type. including facial essentials, oils, shampoo and conditioners.
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.
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.
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
Standout treatments: Stimulating Seaweed Body Buff Scrub (60 minutes, £65) at PH20 at Park House, Sussex. Marine Radiance Facial (55 minutes, £65) at St Brides Spa Hotel, Pembrokeshire.
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.
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.
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.
Yoga is a physical practice involving a series of postures, controlled breathing and meditation, to strengthen and tone the body, and order and relax the mind.