Why would you put cucumbers on your eyelids, a hot towel over your face or stones on your spine? While some spa treatments seem counterintuitive (bathe in mud to get clean?), they’re rooted in time-tested wellness techniques that are proven to lower stress and make you feel great. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular treatments and the science and tradition behind them:
Cucumbers on your eyelids – If you see a picture of someone relaxing in a mud bath, holding champagne, and generally having a great time, you can bet there will be little slices of cucumber somewhere. It turns out that chilled cucumber slices on the eyes do much more than block the light. The watery cucumber hydrates your skin and slows blood flow to the area around your eyes, reducing puffiness. This anti-inflammatory effect is just the start – the skin around the eyes is very sensitive and susceptible to wrinkles, and hydrated skin is far less likely to wrinkle. The high levels of potassium, silica, antioxidants, and vitamin E in cucumbers adds yet another layer of protection against fine lines and wrinkles.
A hot towel over the face – A treatment as old as the Roman barbers, and for good reason – nothing beats a hot towel to prepare for a shave or facial treatment. The warm, moist air can help relieve nasal and chest congestion. Before a facial mask or other pore-cleansing treatment, a hot towel can help to open up your pores, allowing the treatment to penetrate deep and do a better job. For sore muscles in the neck, face, and shoulders, hot towels are a great alternative to overpowering creams and rubs, providing the same benefits without the grease and lingering odor.
Hot stone massage – Another time-tested technique for relaxing your body and your mind. Smooth, river-worn stones with a high iron content are used most often because they retain heat for a long time and feel great on the skin. Before a hot stone massage, the therapist will often put the heated stones along the spine and on other key junctions in the circulatory system. The heat spreads into your deep tissues and opens up your circulatory system, allowing more blood to flow to tight, sore areas. The new blood flushes away lactic acid and brings fresh oxygen to tired muscles, leaving you feeling refreshed and limber. Massage can also provide much-needed stress relief and other mental benefits.
While they may look strange, cucumber slices, hot towels, and hot stone massage are rooted in science and tradition, and deliver great results. So, the next time you take a spa day and find yourself with a towel wrapped around your face, you’ll know exactly why.