Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Mint Condition

Excerpt from American Spa magazine, April edition. By: Lisa Bruckenstein and Jessica Lyons


Discover the magic of mint.


Mint is a talented little herb that walks the line between practical (it gets rid of coffee breath) and decadent (think mint chocolate mousse). It serves as an ideal ingredient in many recipes because its aroma activates the salivary glands in the mouth, as well as the glands that secrete digestive enzymes. Naturopathic doctors praise its ability to soothe stomachs and sore throats, provide headache relief, and open up congested noses and lungs. And most of us need look no further than our medicine cabinet to confirm mint’s oral care benefits. It’s a germicidal and breath freshener that works by preventing bacteria growth in the mouth while also cleaning the tongue and teeth without smelling or tasting medicinal. “Mint is such a familiar aroma, and people love familiarity,” says Marc Zollicoffer, global educator of massage and spa for Aveda. “It makes them feel comforted, refreshed, and awakened. It also imparts a cool, refreshing sensation and is very effective at soothing sore muscles. Mint calms mild sunburn and redness and offers relief from heat, while energizing the mind.” These benefits make mint an ideal ingredient for soothing body wraps and massages, and its cooling nature can be particularly appealing during the spring and summer.

Still, Zollicoffer suggests mint services year-round, as it can be marketed as a relaxing antidote to everyday stress and muscle tension. “Mint is an especially wonderful service for moms, busy professionals, and athletes,” he says. The herb mixes well with rosemary, which also has an invigorating effect on both the body and mind, says Zollicoffer.

Guests at Mind & Body Spa (Whitestone and Rego Park, NY) can opt for the Green Tea Algae Mint Body Treatment ($95, 60 minutes), which is designed to stimulate circulation. During the treatment, Dead Sea salts and mint exfoliate the skin, preparing it for an algae mask, which also includes mint. The combination of potent herbs and deep-sea therapy help the body detoxify and heal.

Increasingly, spas are recognizing the myriad benefits of this healing herb. “As part of a spa treatment, the benefits of mint are two-fold,” says Stephanie Baresh, director of marketing for Éminence Organic Skin Care. “Clients enjoy its aromatic, refreshing scent, and it’s often used in teas for its soothing and cooling properties. For treatments, mint gently disinfects the skin, stimulates the epidermis, facilitates restoration, and can even help cure infections. It is a natural cleansing agent and astringent that is great for helping to treat inflammation. Plus, it contains vitamin A to strengthen the skin and reduce excess oil and a high content of salicylic acid to treat acne, tone the skin, and tighten pores.”

According to Teresa Stenzel, Bioelements education materials and communication manager, various types and forms of mint produce different health benefits. “Spearmint oil, not only has a cooling effect but it’s also prized for its decongesting and therapeutic properties,” she says. “Its aromatic and soothing ability make it a perfect ingredient to comfort stressed skin.”

Another selling point for this soothing, cooling herb is that it stimulates the skin to absorb other ingredients better, which makes it ideally suited for hydrating, anti-aging facials. “Mint increases the ability of active ingredients to revitalize the skin, combat lines and wrinkles, deeply nourish the skin, and act as a powerhouse for fighting free radicals that ultimately dull and damage all skin types,” says Ebony Pomerleau, national and international corporate educator for Pevonia Botanica.

At BJ Grand Salon and Spa (Champaign and Springfield, IL), clients can indulge in total mint wellness, experiencing relief from acne, dermatitis, headaches, and muscle pain while improving concentration and memory. During the services, clients are inhaling the soothing scents from the lemon mint or coconut mint massage oil, which adds to the calming environment. “The circulatory system is the body’s main system of transport,” says Alma Bocanegra, Pino’s national technical manager. “Essential oils are generally absorbed into the circulatory system through the skin or mucous membranes. Once the oil molecules have entered the bloodstream, they travel throughout the body and affect it according to their properties.”

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