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Archive for the ‘Spa’ Category

posted by on Pampering, Rituals, Spa, Spas

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I like Rituals. I especially like the last two collections, the Laughing Buddha and Indian Summer, but I think this time Rituals has outdone itself with a makeover of their Hammam collection*. I’m not familiar with the original but the new collection is nothing short of divine and it’s right up my street as I bloody love hammams.

To me a hammam is the ultimate cleansing and beautifying treatment. It’s a tradition that has stood the test of time, centuries old yet undisputed and thankfully still part of local culture in countries like Turkey and Morocco (which I am envious of).

Fortunately Rituals’ new look Hammam collection brings a taste of a hammam to your private bathroom. The Hot Scrub is now available in a bigger, transparent jar to keep skin smoother and softer for longer, while the Hammam Body Mud has been reformulated with mineral-rich Rhassoul Clay, to nourish and revitalise.

There are nine products in the range of which I’ve been indulging in four. Hammam Olive Secret (£8.50/150ml) is a shower paste that is the same colour and consistency of Vicks Vapour Rub but that it cleanses and prepares the skin for exfoliation. It contains eucalyptus so be weary if you’re not keen on the smell. I love it and it’s just what is needed as the days are getting colder.

The Hammam Hot Scrub (£19.50/250ml) is a favourite of mine as I love a good scrub and this certainly lives up to my expectations.  It contains natural purifying sea salt, warming ginger and eucalyptus. The scrub is quite potent, allowing the scent to boost your mood and unblock your sinuses if you have a cold but it’s also of a gritty texture which makes for an effective treatment.

There is also a foaming shower gel courtesy of Hammam Delight (£8.50/200ml), which is enriched with eucalyptus (yep, that again) and rosemary, and Spark of Hammam, a nourishing body lotion (£12.50/250ml).

I am keen to try some other bits from the vast range such as the scented candle, fragrance sticks, bath oil and the body mud, so I will be hot-footing it down to my nearest Rituals shop and filling my basket.

The renewed Hammam collection is out now at Rituals stores and online as well as selected House of Fraser and John Lewis stores.

posted by on Clarins, In Praise Of..., Spa

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I had a week off recently (which now seems like a lifetime ago) and although I didn’t go on holiday, I hit the ‘pause’ button for some highly prescribed me-time. This called for a proper relaxation, completely switching off and forgetting about work so I booked myself in for a treatment at Clarins’ Skin Spa.

Clarins’ is recognised for its skincare and cosmetics range, but it also has a sterling reputation for face and body treatments in its amazing spa facilities. Previously I had tried a Rebalancing Massage with Relax Essential Oils, which you can read about here. This time I was looking for something just as effective but a totally different experience altogether.

Skimming through the treatments Clarins’ specialises in, my eyes fell on the Melting Honey Stones Massage*. It’s described as a deeply relaxing and uniquely personalised hot stone massage that gently releases tension, soothes aching muscles, eliminates toxins and calms the mind and body. Add to that the use of heat-releasing marble and slate stones, intensified by a melting honey massage gel that’s rich in relaxing aromatic essential oils and I was already floating on a cloud before I had walked into the spa.

Late one afternoon I met my therapist, the truly lovely Charlotte at Clarins’ Skin Spa in Brent Cross, north London. Charlotte is a delicate and beautiful flower. Blonde, petite and softly spoken, she has an aura about her that endears you towards her, yet she is quite the assassin in disguise. Apparently she can make big, burly blokes weep. Well, OK that is an exaggeration but she sure can pulverise the hell out of anyone regardless of shape and size and she’s bloody good at it.

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Before Charlotte led me to the treatment room, she explained the course of the treatment I was having. I sort of stopped listening half way because I was too excited and wanted her to get on with it.

Then I was asked to disrobe (not in front of her of course), pop on a flattering pair of paper knickers (Kudos to Charlotte for ignoring the lumpy rump) and slip under some warm, fluffy towels on the heated treatment bed. This part always freaks me out because I feel like I’m against a clock before the therapist returns and I have this fear of being caught mid-way mounting the bed in the most undignified manner. Fortunately I managed to compose myself before Charlotte returned to a dimly lit room.

I was asked if I wanted to feel relaxed or energised after my massage. Since I had no plans but to go home and do as little as possible, I opted for the former.

Charlotte began by applying honey gel to my body in sections to help relax and release tension. My feet, legs, hands, arms, shoulders and décolleté were expertly and harmoniously swept along before Charlotte introduced the hot stones. The temperature was soothing and I could feel the tension slipping away and my body relax as she used her hands and the stones on the soles of my feet, my legs, my hips, the palms of my hands and my back. You forget how neglected your feet and hands are when they are abused the most.

I have no idea how Charlotte was weaving her magic, I only had my sense of touch to go by but it felt like she was conducting a symphony which built up to a mighty crescendo when she got to my hips and lower back. That’s when her assassin side came out. Charlotte pushed and prodded with force to undo the heavy knots. It was a pretty excruciatingly uncomfortable experience as I tried not to clench my fists and tense up (and howl!), but at the same time it was necessary and a clear indication of the tension I carry heavily on my shoulders which travels down and rests literally on my laurels till someone like Charlotte beats it out of me. I sit at my desk for long periods so sadly my posture suffers terribly and it was precisely this that I was being squeezed out of me agonisingly. *sobs*

The entire treatment lasted over an hour, and thankfully it didn’t whizz by and I felt like a huge weight had literally been lifted off me. I wanted this sensation to last for at least six weeks but I knew it would evaporate out of of me by the following Monday when I returned to work. *sobs again*

After, Charlotte gave me some helpful tips (popping a bean bag on each shoulder to keep my posture straight) and recommended some products to continue my treatment.

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Their Relax Bath & Shower Concentrate with Essential Oils* (£19) can be poured in the bath or used in the shower to alleviate the aches and invigorate the body. I tend to use this just before I go to bed to help relax me.

The Energizing Emulsion* (£26) is a clever lotion that can be massaged into the feet, legs and thighs at any time of the day.

Finally the Relax Body Treatment Oil* (£39) is a divine cocktail of pure plant extracts including Geranium, Petit Grain, Camomile and Basil to help relieve stress and fatigue whilst soothing and relaxing aching areas like the neck, back and abdomen, which is all three in my case. I keep a bottle on my desk for easy reach when I start to feel the tension creeping up on my shoulders and within seconds I feel the herbal concoction wind me down.

I’m quite the spa queen, having tried a number of treatments and spent time in beautiful spas but not every place achieves the high level of consistency and professionalism as Clarins does. The service is flawless, their treatments are exceptional and you will always leave more than satisfied and wanting to come back again.

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The Melting Honey Stone Massage is certainly one treatment I would like to revisit. Then again all the treatments I’ve tried at the hands of Clarins are worth another try. This massage costs £62 for 65 minutes plus a consultation, which equates to less than £1 a minute. I’m definitely going to book myself in for my birthday in December.

To find your nearest Clarins Skin Spa and to book this treatment, or to see what else they offer, visit http://www.clarins.co.uk/spa/spa/.