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Figs Make It Big

Contact Author Cathy Christensen February 2009 issue of Skin Inc. magazine

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figs tumbling out of basket

Chances are, figs were not the most common fruit at your dinner table when you were growing up. Although it is well-known, the fig carries a perception of being a rare treat, something to be enjoyed only once in awhile. This idea is maintained because of the fruit’s relatively short growing season, as well as its even shorter shelf life—it should be eaten within two days of being picked.1

In the kitchen

There are more than 150 varieties of figs, and they should have a rich, deep color and be plump and tender without being mushy when chosen. The fig grows on the ficus tree, which is a member of the mulberry family, and it has a sweet, chewy flesh, smooth skin and crunchy seeds. The majority of figs are dried, but fresh ones are a treat that can be obtained from June to September.1

Fig leaves are edible as well, and have anti-diabetic properties that can reduce the amount of insulin needed in people with diabetes. Figs also are good sources of potassium, fiber and calcium, and are largely produced in California, Turkey, Greece, Portugal and Spain. They can be enjoyed in appetizers, jams and jellies, desserts, and salads, as well as just by themselves for a sweet indulgence.1

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The fig is also a mainstay on spa cuisine menus and is featured in Baked Apples with Fresh Figs and Vermont Maple Syrup from Green Mountain at Fox Run in Ludlow, Vermont; as well as in Fresh Figs with Balsamic Glaze from Mountain Trek Fitness Retreat & Health Spa in Ainsworth Hot Springs, British Columbia, Canada. At Spa Gaucin at the St. Regis Monarch Beach in Dana Point, California, the Mediterranean Meltaway Couple’s Suite Retreat features a 20-minute Espresso Bath for two accompanied by Italian wine and a fig and cheese tray. Also, the Buttermilk Fig Cake is a sweet option at Lake Austin Spa Resort in Austin, Texas; and check out the recipe for the refreshing Fresh Spinach and Balsamic Fig Salad from Executive Chef Andrew Roenbeck at Boca Raton Resort & Club in Boca Raton, Florida.

In the spa

For the skin, fig works as a mild exfoliator to remove dead skin cells from the surface, similar to the activity of pineapples.2 Also, fig bud extract has recently been used as an active ingredient for slimming and improved circulation.3

At The Spa at Pebble Beach in Pebble Beach, California, guests can enjoy the Mediterranean Olive & Fig Scrub signature treatment that features an application of olive, fig and shea butter for smoother skin; and the Citrus and Fig Manicure and Pedicure at Spa Luce in Hollywood, California, hydrates and rejuvenates hands and feet. At Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa in La Jolla, California, the Olive Stone and Fig Vichy Body Scrub finishes with a fig and cassis body butter; and the Pomegranate & Fig Spa pedicure is an anti-aging and revitalizing signature treatment at Peony Nail & Day Spa in Scarsdale, New York. Ethos The Spa in London, Ontario, Canada, offers the Black Fig and Olive Wrap that exfoliates to leave skin renewed and smooth; and also see the step-by-step how-to for the Cranberry Fig Body Polish from Spa Terre at Paradise Point Resort & Spa in San Diego.

Professional skin care products are no strangers to the wonders of fig either. Linden Leaves’ Fig Licorice Body Lotion provides daily moisture replenishment, and Cuccio Naturalé’s Pomegranate & Fig Butter Blend Anti-Aging Formula includes time-released emollients for increased staying power and hydration. Skin Authority offers Olive, Fig, Shea Butter Body Cream that detoxifies, replenishes and protects skin; and the Black Currant & Fig Scentsations Wash is offered by CND. Also, the Cranberry Fig Sugar Scrub from Bella Luccé is designed to dissolve and eliminate expired cells.

Finding fig

As a treat that has been revered since biblical times, the fig is a small fruit with a big reputation. The delicacy’s inclusion in your spa offerings will add to your efforts to make clients feel as if they are in a special sanctuary where the average fruit just won’t do.






(All accessed Dec 3, 2008)



Quick Facts: Figs

  • Figs were first recorded in the tablets of Lagash in Sumer and have since appeared in recorded history from Egypt to Greece.4
  • Cleopatra ended her life with an asp brought to her in a basket of figs.4
  • The fig’s tree, a ficus, has large, rough-textured leaves with three lobes that are the standby when maintaining the modesty of statues.4
  • Figs have an opening called the ostiole, or “eye,” that is not connected to the tree, but helps its development by increasing its communication with the environment.1
  • According to Roman myth, the wolf that nurtured the twin founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus, rested under a fig tree.1

Recipe: Fresh Spinich and Balsamic Fig Salad

From Executive Chef Andrew Roenbeck of Boca Raton Resort & Club in Boca Raton, Florida

Makes 4 servings, 128 calories, 4.1 grams of fat


8 ounces of fresh spinach

8 ounces of Maytag blue cheese

6 figs

24 almonds

1/10 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon powdered sugar

1 small shallot, finely minced

1/2 garlic clove pureed

7 sprigs of thyme stems, removed

4 ounces pomegranate concentrate

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 ounce white balsamic vinegar

4 ounces grape seed oil or vegetable oil

Salt and pepper

Preparation for almonds:

1. Preheat the oven to 275° F and roast the almonds for approximately 20 minutes.

2. Coat the almonds with powdered sugar and cayenne pepper, and set aside.

Preparation for pomegranate vinaigrette:

3. Combine the shallot, garlic, thyme, pomegranate concentrate, mustard, vinegar and oil, and season with salt and pepper.

4. Mix a handful of clean spinach with the desired amount of dressing, and season with salt and pepper.


5. Arrange the spinach on the plate, and place next to it the figs, roasted almonds and blue cheese.

Treatment How-to: Cranberry Fig Body Polish

From SpaTerre, Paradise Point Resort & Spa, San Diego

Nestled in the lush, tropical foliage that surrounds Paradise Point Resort & Spa in San Diego is a portal to a place where exotic rituals of gentle Eastern cultures and indigenous San Diego influences collide. SpaTerre offers custom-designed Indonesian and Thai spa rituals that incorporate a blend of ancient traditions. The Cranberry Fig Body Polish uncovers smooth, glowing skin with a gentle exfoliation followed by rich body butter that is gently massaged into the skin, locking in moisture.

Duration: 50 minutes

Cost: $130

Products needed:

1 cup cranberry fig sugar exfoliant

1 cup vanilla body lotion

Equipment needed:

Bath sheets


Hand towels for chest drapes

Bath mats

Step 1: After welcoming the client, asking her to fill out the proper intake forms and making sure she is not in any stage of pregnancy, ask the client to disrobe and lay face up on a wet treatment table in a wet room equipped with a Vichy shower. The treatment table should have bath sheets and plastic covering a dry towel. Bath mats should be placed around the table to ensure safety.

Step 2: After explaining what to expect in the treatment, begin gently exfoliating the body with a cranberry fig sugar exfoliant. Ask the client to sit while you exfoliate the back, then lay back down. Exfoliate the front, bending legs to access entire leg and bending arms to access entire arm, as well. This step cleanses and moisturizes skin, leaving it smooth and silky with a lasting aroma. This portion of the treatment should last 20 minutes.

Step 3: After completing the application of the sugar exfoliant, start the Vichy shower, making sure the temperature is comfortable for the client. Provide a towel in order to cover the client’s face from splashes.

Step 4: Administer the Vichy shower to the front of the body for two minutes. Adjust shower heads to help remove the scrub.

Step 5: Ask the client to turn onto her back, assisting if necessary. Ask the client to hold her drapes and inform her that you will catch the drape in the back. Also, caution the client to move slowly and do not slide off the table.

Step 6: After covering the face with a new dry towel, Vichy the back of the client’s body for five minutes. Complete the Vichy, remove face cloth and pat the client dry.

Step 7: Slide plastic out from under the client leaving her on the towel underneath.

Step 8: Begin the prone massage using the vanilla body lotion. Turn the client and continue massage to the front of the body. The massage should last for 20 minutes. Conclude service.

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