America Spa Magazine by Maya Stanton
Spas incorporating fragrant and exotic blooms.
For many spas and skincare companies, aromatic flowers such as frangipani, jasmine, lotus, orchid, and ylang ylang are prized just for their delicate fragrances. It’s no secret that the subtle, yet intoxicating scent of these tropical blooms can awaken the senses and set the stage for the ultimate spa-cation. While there is no denying that aromatherapy offers its own form of stress relief, many spas and brands are digging deeper to put these flowers’ less publicized attributes to work.
This flowering shrub known as jasmine is plentiful. In this case, it’s due to its many varieties. It’s a good thing, though, as it takes more than eight million white jasmine blossoms to produce a mere two pounds of oil, says Anderson. Jasmine, however, suffers multiple pretenders to the throne, as many representatives from other families have jasmine in their names, perhaps in hopes that the tropical native’s bona fide attributes will rub off. “Jasmine is an incredible anti-ager,” says Anderson. “It naturally contains a high level of antioxidants, is known for its detoxifying properties, and softens and moisturizes the skin, plus it works wonders on fading hyperpigmentation and scars.” Spa-goers can also reap the antioxidant benefits by enjoying a cup of jasmine tea before or after their treatments.
Jasmine also takes center stage in Fleur’s Rose-Jasmine Shower Gel, available as a retail complement to treatment protocols with floral synergies in high-end day, resort, and destination spas, such as Spa Oceana at Loews Don Cesar Hotel (St. Pete Beach, FL) and Golden Door (San Marcos, CA). Angela Eriksen-Stanley, director of education for Fleur’s, says the company’s goal was to embody the ideal of love and feminine temptation. Plus, she says, “Jasmine has soothing, renewing, and invigorating properties that soften the skin and awaken the senses.”
Romantic Ylang Ylang
Strewn upon the beds of newly wedded couples in Indonesia, ylang ylang flowers have long conjured up romantic notions with their delicate scent. In fact, they’re even considered to be an aphrodisiac in some parts of the world. A member of the magnolia family of flowering plants, ylang ylang is a staple in perfumeries, but it also has therapeutic effects similar to those of jasmine, says Amy Galper, executive director of the New York Institute of Aromatherapy. Among others, “it eases anxiety, increases confidence and grounding, soothes skin irritation, encourages the hair’s luster, and balances sebum and women’s hormones,” she says. And, because ylang ylang, like jasmine, can be steam- or hydro-distilled into a genuine essential oil, Galper recommends it for aromatherapy sessions. “We use ylang ylang, as it is stimulating for circulation and relieves muscle spasms,” says manager Chaniele Erasmuson. “It can be an antidepressant, and it calms the nerves. Simply inhaling ylang ylang will aid in lowering blood pressure, and in a massage oil, it can help provide deeper relaxation.”
In addition to its restorative prowess, ylang ylang is known in Asia as a skin balancer that reduces inflammation and controls acne, says Boldijarre Koronczay, president of Éminence Organic Skin Care. Éminence’s wrinkle-reducing Herbal Recovery Oil combines ylang ylang with age-defying clary sage and powerhouse oils such as olive, sesame, and tea tree for a radiant complexion. “When ylang ylang is applied topically, it can also help to reduce stress and provide a feeling of well being, in turn reducing stress-related skin disorders like acne or irritations and making it a perfect ingredient for the spa setting,” says Koronczay. “Ylang ylang is antibacterial, antimicrobial, and visibly calms, heals, and balances skin,” says lead therapist Amy Meyers.
From soaks to massages, body polishes to facials, these florals offer more perks than are readily apparent at first sniff. Sure, they’ll leave spa-goers beautifully perfumed, but beneath these plants’ surface, an oasis of effective skincare ingredients awaits. Take the time to do more than just stop and smell the flowers.