So you want to pamper yourself with a visit to a luxury spa, but you’re bored with the usual aromatherapy, heated stones on your back and placid New Age music. Well, that’s great because we have some suggestions for you!
How about a slithery snake massage or a pedicure from a school of hungry fish? Or perhaps a cactus needle massage, a facial with human placenta tissue, or a scrub with nightingale droppings? Snail slime moisturizer is said to be wonderfully rejuvenating, too. And if you crave full-body relaxation, maybe baking in a Korean oven sauna or taking a dip in a tub of Czech beer will do the trick.
Even if that all sounds a little, well, strange, don’t be deterred. Such offbeat beauty and health regiments are increasingly de rigueur at high-end spas, according to industry mavens. Here arer some unusual spa treatments and information and celebrities that use them.
Refresh calloused feet jammed into winter boots by stopping in at Selangor, Malaysia’s Sampuoton Spa, where the specialty is fish. Specifically, the tiny garra rufa — nicknamed “doctor fish” — which feed off dead skin. Stick your feet in a pool of water and enjoy what owner Joe Ng describes as a tickling sensation as the silvery black fish nibble away tough skin flakes. Customers emerge posttreatment with smoother, softer skin. But don’t stop there. What about a full body fish bath?
The garra rufa species is native to the Middle East, and fish therapy originates from Turkey, where Ng first discovered the practice. The Sampuoton Spa opened in 2007 and now sees up to 35 customers on a busy day, with a wallet-friendly price tag of $50 per hourlong soak.
Jessica Simpson: Fish Pedicure
On a 2010 episode of her VH1 show The Price of Beauty, Jessica Simpson tested a foot treatment in Japan that’s not without controversy—the fish pedicure. Spa guests place their feet in water with garra rufa (or doctor fish) while pint-size piranhas nibble away the dead skin. Though some states now have fish spas— Yvonne’s in Alexandria, Virginia offers a 30-minute fish therapy for $50—many have banned the procedure for health concerns. And for those too squeamish to make a real doctor fish appointment, there is, of course, an app for that.
Pamper tired toes with the caviar pedicure at Boston’s Spa Newbury. “Black sturgeon caviar, which isn’t far down the ladder from beluga, has a very high level of protein,” spa owner Selina Belisle says. “When it is topically absorbed by the skin, it helps to plump things.” The luxurious pedi experience includes a scrub, mask and massage for the feet. Not to worry: you won’t walk out of Spa Newbury smelling like a day-old fish market. A fresh green apple aroma is added to the products. And at $100, it’s cheaper than an ounce of beluga
Angelina Jolie: Caviar Skin Cream
Surely a mother of six is entitled to a few indulgences. In Angelina Jolie’s case, it’s a beauty regimen that includes La Prairie’s Skin Caviar Luxe Cream at $710 for a 100ml container, the cream contains the eggs of Baerii sturgeon, a protein-rich ingredient that’s said to be good for moisturizing and firming the skin. Also, lovely on a blini.
Catherine Zeta–Jones: Caviar Hair Treatment
Much as caviar is good for the skin, the omega-3 oils also have a nourishing effect on the hair. Which is why Catherine Zeta-Jones has been going to Hari’s hair salon in London for the Beluga conditioning treatment for years. A one-hour session costs £100, but “don’t expect anything fishy,” Hari’s website warns, “this treatment, like old money, is truly discreet and has no odour at all.”
Hay Full Body Treatment
Fancy a roll in the hay in the Italian Alps? Hay bathing, a tradition for more than a hundred years, is popular at the Hotel Heubad Spa. Burrow in moist, fermenting hay for about 20 minutes before being transferred to a couch to rest for another 30. The hay, heated to 40°C (104°F) opens up pores, which aids in detoxifying the body. The procedure is also supposed to soothe aches and pains and stimulate the metabolism, according to the hotel.
This isn’t just your run-of-the-mill hay, of course. For Heubad’s treatment, grasses are cut mid-July to early August from a specific area of the Dolomites, some 2,000 m above sea level. The hay-bathing practice was discovered by tired field workers who found themselves refreshed after sleeping in hay at night despite long hours of manual labor.
Bird Poop Facial
Your skin will be singing after an 80-min. nightingale-droppings facial, guaranteed. Obviously, we’re not talking about ordinary bird poo because that would be gross (well, grosser). Following bacterial treatment, a pinch of the odorless brown dust, mixed with water, forms a paste that is applied to the skin. A well-kept geishas beauty secret, who used it to repair skin damage caused by heavy makeup use. Nightingale poop “bleaches the skin [and] helps to exfoliate, which then prevents blemishes,” says lead therapist Lula Pacheco.
Victoria Beckham: Bird Poop Facial
Of all the bizarre beauty regimens celebrities experiment with, perhaps none causes more horror than the Geisha Facial. Victoria Beckham gets at New York’s Shizuka Day Spa. Also known as the “bird poop facial” because of the powdered nightingale droppings used in the treatment, the Geisha Facial costs $180 for a 60-minute session and promises to “soften, brighten, and nourish the complexion.” And it must be working, because David Beckham reportedly gets them as well.
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