Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Love is in the Air

via the April edition of American Spa Magazine - Megan O’Neill

Sensual,  stress-relieving, and skin-softening jasmine.

F O R   S U C H   A   SMALL,   UNASSUMING,   AND simple blossom, the jasmine flower has certainly been imbued with some serious symbolism. In India, jasmine  is  used  in  rituals  like marriage, Puja (prayer), and holy festivals. In Indonesia, it’s revered as a sign of love and sensuality. In Thailand, jasmine flowers symbolize motherhood, and in China, jasmine was used as a flower of peace during pro-democracy protests. Jasmine is also seen as a state and national symbol in Hawaii, Indonesia, Pakistan, and the Philippines.

So why all the fuss about this tiny white flower?
Much of the plant’s power probably lies in its scent.
The blossoms open only in the evening—as the temperature in its native Mediterranean and Asian climates begins to drop—and produce a distinct aroma that’s appreciated by both women and men around the world. “I believe jasmine to be one of the most glorious, rich, complex, and satisfying essential oils to work with,” says Yael Alkalay, founder of Red Flower. “Its scent is mesmerizing, intoxicating, and transporting—it truly rocks my world.”

Jasmine essential oil is quite expensive because  manufacturers must use a large number of flowers to obtain a small amount of oil. Plus, it is best when produced  from flowers harvested  at night. This  is why pure jasmine essential oil or even absolute is not available in many mass-market products. In order to get the real thing, Tara Grodjesk, president and founder of Tara Spa Therapy, encourages consumers and spa decision makers to ask product manufacturers about the source of their jasmine and how it has been extracted.

As for the flower’s aromatherapeutic properties, jasmine is loaded with esters, the most re l a x i n g  t y  p e  of  chemicals  found  in essential oils. In traditional aromatherapy, jasmine is used to alleviate headaches, balance hormones, ease labor pains, stop stress and tension, and calm muscle spasms. “Jasmine is an excellent essential oil to boost an overall feeling of well-being and optimism,” says Lisa Polley,  director  of  education and business development at Jurlique. “We use jasmine because it is a sweet, exotic, and relaxing extract that is ideal when incorporated into body products.”

There are few better places to unleash the sedating and stress-reducing properties of jasmine than in the spa. “Our guests are most pleased with the calming effect of jasmine and find it a unique scent that isn’t found in many spa services,” says Sandy Trevino, spa director at Jurlique Spa at FireSky Resort & Spa (Scottsdale, AZ). This explains why the flower and its heady, floral scent are so often seen as symbols of love and marriage in Asian cultures. “I think jasmine is a very sexy and sensual fragrance that helps each and every woman experience her own beauty,” says Kathy Nelson, spa director at Kabuki Springs & Spa (San Francisco).

Jasmine oil is also the perfect addition to beauty treatments aimed at improving the skin, as the plant oil provides hydration without clogging pores or causing breakouts. Plus, its esters help inhibit the growth of bacteria and help regulate sebum production. It can even calm sensitive, easily irritated complexions. “Traditional Chinese medicine   u s e s   jasmine   to  ‘ d r a i n   f i r e ,’ which clears heat and relieves irritability,” says Suzanne Lombardo, wellness  manager   at  Fi ve  Phase Wellness Center (Evanston, IL). “In beauty, aside from increasing romantic allure, jasmine enhances smooth, firm skin by promoting skin repair in strengthening collagen and elastin,” says Lombardo. The oil also helps increase elasticity in the skin. “Jasmine oil also helps in the reduction of wrinkles and fine lines,” she says.

Yet another way to bring jasmine’s benefits into your life is by a warm mug of jasmine tea. The naturally sweet-flavored beverage that’s known to lower blood pressure and promote a sense of calm is very popular in China, where jasmine flowers are often blended with either a green tea or oolong base.
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