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Releasing Stress is What the Spa Experience is All About

Contact Author Erika Mangrum January 2007 issue of Skin Inc. magazine

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The spa industry is about helping people to find relief from the stress in their lives. Although positive stress can stimulate people to overcome challenges and resolve problems, negative stress can have the opposite effect—even shutting a person down. A positive spa experience has been known to evoke serenity in a stressed client. One of the most effective ways to do this is through physical stimulation. And part of the fun of this business is coming up with fresh ways to delight and reawaken the senses of smell, taste and touch. (See Awakening the Senses.)

Signature facials

Based in Raleigh, North Carolina, Iatria Spa and Health Center focuses on providing nourishing treatments for stressed clients. The name Iatria is Greek for “the art of well-being.” More than 63% of the spa’s market is defined as busy executives—individuals constantly pressed for time. The team caters to their needs by offering them online appointments and purchases, as well as by finding ways to save them time and reduce their stress levels. Whether this anxiety comes from overwork, illness or family problems, Iatria’s approach is the same: Bring the client back to the simple here and now to enjoy pleasure through the senses.

At Iatria, the team develops a monthly special. One of the estheticians at the spa invented Kelty’s Pomegranate & Oat Oxygenating Facial—a nourishing treatment that hydrates and plumps tired skin cells with a moisture-rich mask made from cranberries, pomegranate and oats. With a mortar and pestle, the mixture is made in front of the client so that they can enjoy the wonderful aromas. Because Iatria stands for what is natural and pure, only the freshest ingredients are used. This special facial is a signature treatment and is priced higher than a regular deep-cleansing facial.

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Clients love having this fragrant concoction made especially for them. The treatment is great for protecting the skin. Cranberries are naturally antibacterial and provide age-defying antioxidants. Pomegranates are one of mankind’s oldest medicinal ingredients and contain powerful antioxidants with a combination of estrogenic and nonestrogenic properties. The Greek physician Hippocrates used the fruit to soothe eye irritations. New research shows that pomegranate may be one of the most potent natural wrinkle fighters. This amazing healing fruit also is a natural humectant that traps moisture and is loaded with polyphenols, which are powerful antioxidants that stabilize free radicals.

Listen and learn

Iatria markets Kelty’s Pomegranate & Oat Oxygenating Facial as a monthly special in the fall. The company has an e-mail database of 17,000 people who have signed up to receive monthly specials and promotions. The benefits of the facial also are displayed in the spa’s retail area and the locker rooms as an enticing skin treat after the harsh summer.

After listening to its clientele, Iatria Spa and Health Center has created a medically oriented spa that offers unique peaceful and relaxing experiences to stressed and busy clients.

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Kelty's Pomegranate & Oat Oxygenating Facial

Length of treatment: 110 minutes 110 minutes

Approximate cost: $85 $85

Contraindications: This treatment is not recommended for clients who have allergies to cranberries or pomegranates.

Products needed:

1 tablespoon jellied cranberry sauce

2 tablespoons oats

1 capful of pomegranate juice

1 tablespoon whipping cream



Cranberry-scented lotion

Oxygenating hydra serum



Nonalcoholic beverage, such as cranberry or pomegranate juice

Equipment and supplies needed:

Mortar bowl with pestle

Wood’s lamp or magnifying lamp


Hand mitts

Hot towel

Step 1: In a mortar bowl, combine the recipe ingredients in front of the client, using a pestle.

Step 2: Microwave the mixture on high power for 15 seconds.

Step 3: Cleanse and tone the skin, and then analyze it thoroughly using the Wood’s lamp or a magnifying lamp for 10 minutes. Look for any signs of dry, sensitive, oily or normal skin.

Step 4: Proceed by steaming the skin with a steamer and exfoliating it for an additional 10 minutes. Perform extractions if the client so desires.

Step 5: Apply a cranberry-scented lotion on the neck and décolleté. Perform a massage for 12–15 minutes, targeting the face, neck, shoulders and décolleté. Focus on the sinus pressure points on the face, as well as on relaxing the neck, shoulders and décolleté areas.

Step 6: Massage the hands, and place them in warmed hand mitts.

Step 7: Apply the cranberry-pomegranate mask, and leave on for 10 minutes. Place a hot towel over the face, and remove the mask.

Step 8: Finish with an application of an oxygenating hydra serum, a moisturizer and a sunscreen. As the client relaxes, serve them a nonalcoholic beverage.

Awakening the Senses

In the spa industry, it’s important to create treatments that stimulate clients’ senses in order to relieve the stress in their lives. Three senses—smell, taste and touch—can be integrated easily into your services.


The sense of smell is related to the limbic system, which influences the brain’s pleasure center, as well as those parts of the brain involved with emotion and motivation. Scents are tied strongly with memory and actually can affect emotional well-being. Almost everyone has had the experience of smelling a freshly baked apple pie, for example, and being reminded instantly of grandma’s kitchen.


In a world in which fast food is the norm, give your clients a relaxed opportunity to savor the flavors of healthy fruity drinks and tasty, nutritious food. Stress strips the body of vitamins B and C, so help your clients to replenish them. Give them complex carbohydrates to induce the release of serotonin, which will, in turn, make them feel tranquil.


The sense of touch is life-giving, and the “laying on of hands”—a religious practice found throughout the world—is associated with healing. Massage is known to release endorphins that calm the peripheral nervous system and alleviate stress. Symptoms of stress include muscle tension and quick, shallow breathing. A body starved for fresh oxygen and touch cannot function well, so help your clients to relax by providing soothing massage, enabling their minds to let go of cares and worries.

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