The Glossary: Spa & Beauty Treatments Explained
Acupuncture treatments originating from China about 3500 years ago, is a practise involving fine needles no larger than a thin sewing needle being placed into the skin in various energy points around the body called ‘meridians’. There are twelve meridians in total that run in pairs down the body, six needles are placed on the left hand side and six on the right hand side. The meridians correspond with the twelve major organs of the body that are then controlled by an energy force the Chinese call qi (chee). When the needles are inserted into the patient’s skin the feeling is normally painless and can give off a heavy, numb, tingling feeling. This is the treatment’s desired effect on the body as it creates a sense of deep connection with the therapy and energy flow through the body. Sessions of acupuncture treatment last between twenty to forty minutes and often involve up to ten separate sessions but this varies in spas around the world. This treatment has many benefits on both the mind and body helping many common issues such as lower back pain, tension-type headaches and migraines. Acupuncture is also used to treat conditions of the bones and muscles such as neck pain, joint pain and even dental pain. Less common conditions such as nausea, allergies, eczema, fatigue, depression, anxiety, digestive disorders, infertility and insomnia can all be treated by acupuncture treatment too depending on the level of the condition.
Originating from sacred Vedic tradition in India around 5000 BC, Ayurveda treatment (which literally translates as ‘science of life’) is a herbal remedy for achieving total awareness of the self. It is used within a medical system along with a controlled diet and yoga exercises to refine one’s mental and spiritual well-being. The herbal medicine was first created with the intention of preventing disease and removing illness, thus connecting the mind, body and spirit together in a healthy bond. Through this bond it aims to teach the individual a respect for nature and natural surroundings as well as empowering the self. Ayurveda practice and yoga is a traditional Hindu practise in achieving the scared life goal of Moksha (the aim to detach oneself from the material world around them). This practise can help define the self and achieve a state of consciousness within the external environment, helping the individual to focus on their mind and body. There are different herbs used for Ayurvedic medicine that work in different ways to suit an individual’s needs. For example, the shrub plant Ashwagandha, is used in the medicine to promote sleep, strength and recovery of healing. Whereas, bitter melon can be used in the medicine to help high glucose readings and diabetes in some patients. Ayurvedic herbs can also be crafted into heated oils that can help with relaxation and detoxing skin pores, this leaves the body feeling purified and re-energized. These oils can then be used to carry out Ayurvedic massages in spas too for relaxing the muscles in the body, helping psychological flow of the mind and to reduce stress levels.
Balneotherapy, deriving from the Latin word ‘balneum’ means ‘bath’ or ‘to bathe’. This therapy was first discovered around 1800-1500 BC in Babylonian culture when bathing rivers and the application of hot and cold compresses were used as therapy for the whole body. The treatment is used in many spas to treat the mind and the body through water and hydration. As such, this treatment is carried out in many different ways in spas around the world through thermal baths, cold baths, mineral water, hydro baths and whirlpools. Hydro baths have flexible water and air timers to suit a patient’s needs along with a controllable air intensity that projects the water and a control of temperature too. With these features, hydro baths can perform both a stimulating programme of water therapy for a patient and a more relaxing programme. These programmes of hydro bathing treatment can be used to treat conditions such as arthritis and backache and helps to build up the body’s muscles to conquer illness and everyday stress levels. Water therapy gives an individual the sense of well-being not only for the body but for the mind too as the water creates a sense of relief and relaxation. The water destresses the body by soothing tight or sore muscles, helping the blood circulation of one’s skin and provides a healthy mineral balance in the skin.
Botulinum toxin injections (Botox) are treatments that can be used to relax facial muscles and make the appearance of facial lines and wrinkles such as crow’s feet and frown lines of the forehead disappear. It is a considerably expensive procedure of around £150-£500 per session but has visible effects without the need for painful surgery. The expense of the treatment depends on the practitioner and patient’s needs on how much Botox they need to have injected into their skin and the area of the face they wish to have treated. The treatment begins with the facial skin being cleansed before small amounts of Botox are injected into the muscles where the desired treatment area is. It then takes multiple injections like this at different sites of the skin for up to 10 minutes with a slight discomforting feeling for the patient but nothing intolerable. It then takes around three to five days for the patient to start seeing the treatment’s effect leaving them with a younger and more replenished facial skin. Botox should always be carried out by a reputable qualified doctor.
Dermal fillers are a treatment used to plump and smooth out wrinkles and creases in facial skin. The fillers are achieved by injections and can also be used for the lips and cheeks too to further define their volume. There are temporary treatments – collagen, hyaluronic acid, and calcium hydroxyapatite, and a permanent treatment – polymethylmethacrylate. Facial filler treatments with these chemicals come at a rather expensive cost of around £150 to £500 per session depending of the type and amount of product used. The procedure begins with an anaesthetic cream or injection before the filler is injected in multiple areas of the skin being treated. The treatment time lasts between 30 minutes to an hour depending on how much treatment the patient desires and it may cause a little discomfort but is not very painful. The treatment leaves the patients skin with a younger and fresher appearance without the signs of ageing. Dermal fillers should always be carried out by a reputable and qualified practitioner.
Glycolic peels are a treatment of chemical peel for the face that are applied in order to remove dead skin cells and help the appearance of newer ones. This treatment aims to reduce sign of ageing and to maintain an even skin tone. The peels come of a cost of around £60 to £120 for a standard treatment of the skin as the concentration of glycolic acid in the peels varies from patient to patient depending on their skin type. The chemical concentration in these peels range in mild, medium and high levels but the procedure for each is similar. The treatment works by removing the top layer of the patient’s skin to be rid of any skin bacteria and dead skin cells firstly. After being left on the skin for a few minutes the skin becomes tight and refreshed before being removed at the end of the treatment. Majority of patients who receive this treatment will have multiple sessions over a course of around six months to maintain its improved effect upon the skin. Glycolic should always be carried out by a reputable and qualified practitioner.
The treatments of hydrotherapy in spas through baths, showers and pools has multiple benefits for relaxing both mind and body. Water based treatments improve the circulatory system of the body by developing a stronger heart through increased circulation and nutrients and the decreasing of swelling in limbs. Hydrotherapy also gives a relief from any anxiety the body could be coping with through the relaxation of the muscular system. Relaxing the muscles will relive any pain, tension or stiffness from injury and will help improve one’s posture too. This type of spa treatment also improves the body’s nervous system as it stimulates sensory nerves and relieves the patient from issues such as restlessness, stress and insomnia. Hydrotherapy is an easy and very beneficial spa treatment that helps both muscles and blood flow around the body as well as sensory and restlessness issues of the mind too.
LED Therapy / Photo-Rejuvenation
Light emitting diode (LED) therapy for the face is used to treat acne and wrinkles in the skin. It is considered a very safe treatment as it involves a non-invasive form of photo-rejuvenation and the procedure only lasts 20 minutes, making it a short but sweet treatment. LED therapy is not only safer but affordable at around £60 to £100 (per session) as it takes years off your face skin without the expensive cost of a surgical face-lift. In short, it is a totally safe treatment that causes no pain and it is suitable for all skin types. The treatment is carried out through an LED face mask that the patient wears so that the LED light may target the skin cells of the face with a low level of light energy. This procedure boosts the skin cell activity, which neutralises skin bacteria, improves skin tone and texture, and leaves the patient with any fine lines diminished and a healthy glow. LED therapy should always be carried out by a reputable and qualified practitioner.
Lymphatic Drainage is achieved in spas around the world through massaging techniques. The treatment moves fluids out of body tissue by repetitive massaging strokes at a precise speed, rhythm, and pressure. This helps the immune system to stimulate the movement of the fluids into the lymphatic vessels. The therapist moves the patient’s skin lengthwise, horizontally, and diagonally to stretch the skin so that the fluids may begin to move to the correct vessels. The lymph vessels can be found in most areas of the body except in the central nervous system, bone marrow, and non-vascular tissue. The massage is carried out on the feet, legs, thighs and back to circulate a relaxed blood flow around the body. The foot is massaged by kneading the sole of the foot in a circular motion repeatedly. The legs and thighs are massaged upwards by the masseur with both hands using more pressure with the heel of their hand on tighter areas of the legs and thighs. Finally, the back massage begins with an upward stroke starting at the base of the spine working its way up to the client’s shoulders and this is followed by the outward and inward stretching of the muscles in the shoulder area. The back massage then concludes with a downward stroke starting at the neck of the patient then working its way down to the base of the patient’s spine.
In Spas around the world there are many different massages that are used for different areas of treatment. They involve multiple techniques that will rock, shake and knead the body’s muscles to help energy and relaxation flow. As there are many different types of massages, there are many benefits from them too. Pressure massages such as an acupressure massage, benefit the release of healing energy around the body by applying pressure to multiple areas of it and doesn’t involve needles like treatments such as acupuncture. Thermal massages such as a hot stone massage, offers a temperature based treatment that combines multiple massage techniques through the touch of smooth stones in order to relax the body’s muscles through their heat and pressure. Spiritual massages such as the Hawaiian Lomi Lomi massage and the Chinese Shiatsu encourage whole body and spiritual harmony as well as correspondence with the earth’s four main elements: air, earth, fire, and water. Finally, strengthening massages such as an orthopaedic massage and a Tai massage allow treatment for muscle healing and flexibility using specific body area massages for healing and the practise of yoga. Massages offer an improved circulation of blood around the body, increased flexibility, better posture and fast healing.
Microdermabrasion is a spa and cosmetic treatment for facial skin that allows exfoliating crystals to lift unwanted dead skin layers and leave behind a fresher and healthier looking layer of skin. The aim of this treatment is to reduce the skin ageing effect of facial lines and the redness of blemishes. The treatment is very therapeutic as it can be used on all skin types too – fair, dark, sensitive etc. At the beginning of the treatment the patient may be given a medication to help relax the muscles in the face, although this does differ across spas and practitioners. There is a fairly small handheld device used by the practitioner which looks fairly similar to a large pen and has a built in vacuum that spreads tiny crystals across the skin to loosen the dead skin cells and vacuum them away. The device then gets to work on purifying the skin during the treatment by raising small sections of the skin to work on and creating a mild but expected swelling as it brings the impurities out of the skin. This procedure usually takes less than 30 minutes and through four to six sessions can have a positively noticeable effect on the facial skin with the bonus of the treatment being painless. After the treatment has been carried out, the side effects of redness and potential swelling could occur but are quick to go leaving the patient with a healthy glow and purified skin. Microdermabrasion should always be carried out by a reputable and qualified practitioner.
One of the three minimally invasive techniques used in spas and practises to treat facial ageing is the non-surgical treatment of microneedling. The treatment involves a controlled needle penetration of the skin in an aim to regenerate the facial skin being treated and is suitable for all skin types as it does not use any skin damaging chemicals. The equipment used for microneedling therapy is similar to that of a tattoo needle machine but can also come as microneedling stamp devices and rollers too. Recent microneedling technology uses bipolar radiofrequency devices so that it may treat acne and oily skin through heat production. At the beginning of the treatment, the practitioner cleans the skin with a gentle cleanser and applies a topical anaesthetic that is to be left for 20 minutes before being removed. Next a topical hyaluronic-based gel is placed onto the skin to act as the ingredient that is to be microinjected into the skin through the microneedling action. An appropriate needle length and speed of puncture is chosen to suit the patient’s skin type and for different texture areas of the facial skin. All areas of the face are passed over the skin by the needle multiple times during the treatment before ending the session on cleaning the face to remove the serums and to refresh the patient from the procedure. After each microneedling session, patients apply a petroleum based substance onto the skin to maintain the purified and natural enhanced glow to their face skin. Microneedling should always be carried out by a reputable and qualified practitioner.
The Finnish treatment of a sauna works in opposition to that of a steam room/ hammam practise. The sauna involves a dry heat treatment in a wood-lined room rather than the steamy moist treatment in a heated marble area of a steam room. The heat created in a sauna induces sweating from the body in order to cleanse it of its impurities and gently heats up the body to help blood circulation and purification of the skin. Saunas have long benches that patients take a seat on and allow around 10 patients in at a time in order to control the temperature of the room. The controlled temperature can also be to the patients taste as some saunas have the feature of a coal stand in them which increases the temperature of the room gradually as the coal added burns away.
Steam / Hammam
The spa treatment of steam rooms originates from the term hammam which is also known as a Turkish bath. The treatment of hammam is carried out in a rectangular shaped room usually made of marble walls and columns that are heated by small domes to create a hot atmosphere. In some hammam spas, the patient is required to lie on a mat on the floor so that the heat can rise up through the mat into your body to purify and clean the skin. Conditions in hammam spas according to patient clothing can differ as some require you to wear a swimsuit while others allow patients to experience the treatment naked to allow the tradition of hammam treatment to be embraced. However the treatment is experienced, it is said that the steam room is most relaxing for both body and mind and leaves the patient fully rejuvenated afterwards.
Deriving from the Greek word Thalassa which means “sea”, the treatment of thalassotherapy uses the natural properties of seawater and sea properties such as seaweed, to purify the pores of the skin. Recognised in France, this spa treatment was seen to benefit problems such as sore throats, digestion, arthritis, injury, the respiratory system and skin conditions. The use of seaweed in the treatment is used to support endocrine balance, detoxification, elimination of excess fluid in body tissue and muscular pain, allowing a healthy energy flow through the body’s systems. Aside from its benefits of the body’s systems, seaweed is an excellent treatment for one’s skin as it cleanses, purifies, tones, firms, softens and hydrates the skin naturally through soaking the entire body in a full bath of the sea product. As the treatment can pretty much give skin the care it needs, this treatment is suitable for most skin types and is useful for outbreaks of acne too due to the anti-inflammatory properties it has.