Top five spa treatments to re-energise with this summer
We all know that regular exercise is a great way to keep fit and healthy. But taking time out to pamper your body and calm your mind is just as important.
Relax and re-energise this summer with one of these five spa treatments - from the five-star celebrity facial to affordable bath time boosters.
Deep tissue massage
Massage is a popular treatment for minds and bodies, with known physical and emotional benefits. But with so many different types of massage available, how do you decide which to opt for?
For active people with tired bodies, Elemis recommend their deep tissue massage, from £50 for 30 minutes. The treatment sees the therapist use his or her elbows and forearms to achieve pressure and work deep into the tissue - at times this can feel intense, but the overall effect is one of complete relaxation.
The technique not only relieves muscular aches and pains but also breaks down blockages and lactic acid, says Elemis director of treatment development Noella Gabriel.
Similar deep tissue massages are available at spas around the country, and many gyms and leisure centres can recommend sports masseurs who can offer specialised massage to help with specific injuries.
DIY option: Although it's hard to recreate the technical expertise of a deep tissue massage at home, if you have a willing friend or partner, Elemis therapist Elmer Gillen encourages you to try basic massage at home: "Create a tranquil mood - low lighting, soothing aromas, music, candles, and oil burners can enhance this." Alternatively, Elemis's Aching Muscle Super Soak, £32.70, offers relief for tired muscles in a bottle.
While many people assume that facials are just a way to combat lacklustre skin, they can actually have far greater benefits. Emma Hardie's signature Natural Lift and Sculpting Facial, £130, has been hailed as the non-surgical facelift, and unlike traditional facials doesn't just rely on products to achieve results.
"I use a manual skin and muscle softening technique that instantly releases any restrictions and tensions held in the face, enabling the flow of energy, blood and oxygen to be re-balanced and to all parts of the skin and muscle," explains Hardie.
Although Hardie's massage technique is both specialised and unique, many spas offer facials which massage elements, so it's worth checking with your beautician.
DIY option: A radiant face will always help you to feel your best, so it's important to invest in great everyday skincare. Emma Hardie's award-winning products all encourage natural lift and sculpting, and her Moringa Cleansing Balm, £34, is a great product for everyday use.
Hardie also recommends regular facial exercises, and suggests her clients practice the following technique at home:
- Lift your chin upwards so you can feel a stretch down the neck.
- Holding the muscles in your face in a slight state of tension, open your mouth as wide as you can, feel the stretch in your lip and surrounding muscles and slowly move your mouth around in all directions. When you move your mouth around you will be mobilising and releasing the tension from your jaw.
- Hold the tension in your lower jaw and neck and continue to move the mouth around whilst keeping the chin pointing upwards, and feel the stretch in the neck.
- Focus on your cheek and forehead muscles and slowly and firmly move these around in all directions.
- The aim is to move, stretch and mobilise the face and neck muscles in a flowing, smooth and focused way. Remember to stretch the muscles as far as you can in each movement.
Although many people turn to reflexology for help with a specific problem, it's a fantastic practise for reducing stress and tension, improving sleep and achieving a general sense of relaxation, according to Tracey Smith of the Association of Reflexologists.
It can have a particularly positive effect on those with active lifestyles, she explains: "Reflexology can help in tandem with exercise - waste products are produced from working muscles, and reflexology may help remove these products into the urinary system, thus helping the body to detox."
The Association of Reflexologists is a not-for-profit membership organisation for reflexologists practising in the UK. Their website is a great place to learn more about reflexology and find a qualified and professional practitioner near you.
DIY option: As reflexology is such a gentle therapy, there are lots of simple techniques you can learn and practise at home. Secrets of Reflexology by Chris McLaughlin and Nicola Hall is well illustrated with clear photos, making it a great book for reflexology beginners.
Dry body brushing and exfoliation
Dry body brushing and exfoliation can both aid the skin's natural act of rejuvenation: dead skin cells are removed, leaving the skin smoother and brighter.
And there are more benefits - dry body brushing can also help the body detox, according to Liz Earle, co-founder of Liz Earle skincare. "The skin is an organ of elimination, just like the kidneys and liver and even without extra help, it discharges more than a pound of waste products every day," Earle explains. "Given the extra boost of daily body brushing, this elimination process can become much more effective, not only improving the appearance of your skin but also giving general health benefits - such as improved blood circulation and immune system."
Cowshed Spas offer a 45-minute full body salt scrub for £55: full body brushing is followed by a deep exfoliation with their signature peppermint oil infused sea salt and finished off with skin conditioning contour cream to leave you feeling refreshed and sparkly new.
Similar treatments can be found at spas throughout the country, or for a more exotic twist why not head to your local Turkish bath to experience a traditional Hammam treatment.
DIY option: Body brushing and exfoliation are super-easy to do at home. Body brushes are widely and cheaply available on the high street - make sure you opt for one with natural bristles, and always brush towards the heart (i.e. up the legs, not down them).
For some spa-worthy exfoliation, try Liz Earle's Energising Body Scrub, £13.50. Not only will the ground olive stones cleanse and polish the skin, but the zingy mix of natural oils including grapefruit, peppermint and eucalyptus will leave you feeling invigorated and revitalised.
There's more to aromatherapy than just delicious smells - the essential oils used in this type of treatment have natural therapeutic properties, says Geraldine Howard, co-founder of Aromatherapy Associates, and they can have a dynamic effect on our emotions. "The sense of smell is the most primitive of our senses, and is linked to the deepest parts of the brain which govern basic instincts, memories and emotions," she explains.
It's easy to find an aromatherapy treatment to suit your needs - nowadays the power of aromatherapy is so well known that most spa treatments - from massages to body wraps and even manicures - include elements of aromatherapy. Howard recommends Aromatherapy Associates' Clear Your Mind treatment, £150, for calming a stressed and confused head.
DIY option: Aromatherapy is one of the easiest treatments to practise at home. The Aromatherapy Associates Miniature Bath and Shower Oil collection, £30, provides a simple and effective way to get started: the set includes nine different oils to cover every mood.
Rejuvenating spa treatments are a great way to re-energise and get that spring back into your step, especially combined with a healthy balanced diet. Sign up for My Special K and get a personalised healthy eating plan that could help you achieve this balance.