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A Better Butter

Mary Bemis January 2006 issue of Skin Inc. magazine

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I recently had a shea butter treatment at Sundara Inn & Spa in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, then another in Sedona, Arizona, at the newly opened Sedona Rouge Hotel & Spa. I realized that a trend was emerging when I experienced yet another one at Sego Lily Mind Body Spa, a new day spa in Midvale, Utah. This year, shea butter body treatments have experienced a surge in popularity at new and existing spas.

Melts on your body

Shea butter, extracted from the kernels of the fruit of the Central African Mangifolia tree, is known as an excellent emollient with great healing properties. High in triglycerides and fatty acids, shea butter’s soft, rich texture melts easily into the skin. Traditionally, natural shea butter has been used as a balm for minor burns, sun allergies, muscle aches and more. It also helps to protect the skin from environmental damage and is highly valued as a beauty aid for hair and skin, thanks to its softening and moisturizing qualities. Given all that, it is no surprise that spa directors are incorporating this dynamic ingredient into their menus and that shea butter is used increasingly by massage therapists, due to how easily it is absorbed into the skin.

“Frankly, shea butter is a nice ingredient,” says Howard Murad, MD, CEO and founder of Murad, Inc. and associate clinical professor of dermatology at the University of California Los Angeles. “I don’t see it as a new technology, but it’s a very good moisturizer and it feels good.” Murad included shea butter in the company’s Resurgence Age Balancing Night Cream, targeted toward menopausal women. “This particular category of women likes the feel of a heavier product,” he notes.

Dip into healing

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On the Menu: Shea Butter

A selection of soothing shea butter treatments to make your clients say “Ahh!”

The Lavender Luxury Wrap

Location: Raindance Spa at The Lodge at Sonoma, Sonoma, CA

Time & Cost: 100 minutes, $195

This brand-new treatment begins with a dry brush exfoliation, followed by a lavender-shea butter application. The client then is wrapped in warm blankets and receives a light scalp massage. A full-body massage completes the service.

Shea Body Butter Indulgence

Location: Sundara Inn & Spa, Wisconsin Dells, WI

Time & Cost: 90 minutes, $210

This new treatment begins with an application of the spa’s signature essential oil blend—a soothing combination of sandalwood and jasmine—followed by a sprinkling of bath salts for an exfoliating massage. Next, an application of Sundara’s signature shea butter product is applied, and the client is wrapped. During this time, she receives a facial and a scalp massage. Once unwrapped, the remaining shea butter is worked into the skin during a full-body massage.

High Mountain Body Butter Drench

Location: Sego Lily Mind Body Spa, Midvale, UT

Time & Cost: 50 or 80 minutes, $60 or $80

First, the client lies on a heated blanket and receives a full-body massage using a local product called Body Butter Key West, followed by a 15-minute heated wrap. She simultaneously is given a scalp, neck and shoulder massage. Spa director Dana Carlson says, “This is my favorite treatment. Not only do you get a good massage, but you get a little pampering, too. I just love the product—it smells good and keeps your skin soft for days.”

Shea Butter Body Emulsion

Location: Ajune Medical Day Spa, New York

Time & Cost: 60 minutes, $150

This Sothys body treatment is one of the spa’s most popular menu items. The three-step service begins with an oatmeal body exfoliation, after which the client showers off. An application of a hydrating gel that is massaged into the body follows, ending with a pure shea butter massage.

Shea Butter Cocoon

Location: The Spa at Sedona Rouge, Sedona, AZ

Time & Cost: 60 or 90 minutes, $100 or $150

First, the client is exfoliated using the spa’s signature White Sugar Scrub, followed by an application of Shea Butter Blend to counter the effects of sun exposure and dryness. Then, the client is wrapped in a warm blanket, and the therapist performs a relaxing face and neck massage with the facility’s signature Desert Facial massage oil.

Thash (Native Sun Wrap)

Location: Aji Spa at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort, Chandler, AZ

Time & Cost: 25 or 50 minutes, $65 or $115

This indulgent menu item begins with the application of the spa’s melted Sun Blend Shea Butter and Sun Blend Body Oil. The body then is enveloped in an aromatic steam capsule in which steam therapy enables the body to absorb antioxidants and vitamins A, D and E. According to spa director Justin Sturgis, the entire experience helps to improve circulation and neutralize free radicals, and has an overall therapeutic effect on the body.

African Shea Butter Hair Treatment

Location: Spa Terre at The Viking, Newport, RI

Time & Cost: 10 minutes, add-on to any service, $40

Beneficial for the health of the hair, due to the nourishing power of shea butter, this treatment enhances any service. It is best used prior to shampooing and is left in the hair for three hours or longer.

The Blue Lagoon

Location: As “U” Wish Nail Spa, Hoboken, NJ

Time & Cost: 60 minutes, $45

First, the feet are immersed in an ocean blue relaxing lavender foot bath infused with peppermint and eucalyptus essential oils. Next, a peppermint, shea butter and sugar cream scrub is applied, followed by an expert nail shaping, smoothing and buffing. An application of lacquer concludes the pedicure.

Jojoba Butter Hydrating Wrap

Location: Mii amo, a destination spa at Enchantment, Sedona, AZ

Time & Cost: 60 minutes, $130

This treatment offers deep all-over natural conditioning, and provides the skin with moisture and protection against the effects of stress, pollution and aging. The session begins with a gentle sea salt exfoliation to prepare the skin to receive the rich butter cream containing jojoba and shea butter, which is massaged gently into the skin. The client then is wrapped in warm blankets to allow deep product penetration. During this time, she receives a neck and face massage.

“Shea butter is beneficial for healing small wounds, as well as skin cracks and crevices, making it a great foot moisturizer that complements our spa pedicures.”

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