A new treatment from Dermalogica
Fancy a pre-summer boost for neglected areas of the skin? Try the Thermal Stamp from Dermologica. It's much better than it sounds
Using heat to revitalise the body and improve the condition of the skin dates back to ancient times. In 500 BC, Greeks and Romans would spend time in the thermae (Greek for heat) - a series of rooms designed to raise body temperature for therapeutic benefits. Turkish baths also used natural hot springs for their curative benefits, with bathers drinking from, and luxuriating in, the health-giving waters. Adopted by the Victorians, the process was embellished and grew steadily in popularity through the latter part of the 19th century.
International skin care experts Dermalogica have built on this tradition with their latest salon treatment, the intriguingly named Thermal Stamp. They describe it as a 'collective homage to ancient traditions and modern technological wonders, offering benefits that contribute both to an individual's emotional state and skin health'.
Gemma, my therapist at HQ Hair and Beauty in Exeter, is initially a little reticent about what the stamp is, but assures me that she won't be walking on my back. Rather, she says it is a relaxing treatment, centring on exfoliation and deep-cleansing of the body.
Preparing the skin fro 'body mapping'
A thorough brushing of the skin is instantly invigorating and is claimed to impart many health benefits. Gemma advises me to adopt this simple procedure as a wake-up call every morning, with a cautionary note to always brush towards the heart.
This prepares the skin for 'body mapping', a technique developed by Dermalogica, in which the therapist analyses the client's skin to assess its condition and identify any problem areas.
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The body is divided into 14 zones. Concerns such as fluid retention, dry skin, poor circulation and the effects of stress along with more serious conditions, such as psoriasis, are flagged up so that they can be dealt with during the course of the treatment.
Gemma says that I have poor circulation in my hands and feet (but then, it is a chilly day!), an area of tension around the neck (the result of hours hunched over my computer) and several patches of dry skin on the legs and arms, because of neglect during the winter months. A conditioning body wash is followed by exfoliation, aided by a special skin-buffing cloth.
The mystery of the thermal stamp
Next, it's time to solve the mystery of the thermal stamp. Apparently, the therapy is inspired by a Thai technique, developed in the 14th century, whereby a bundle of herbs is tied into a muslin cloth. This is then boiled to form the stamp, which is used as a massage tool, working along the body's meridian lines and then over the skin. The idea is that the stamp allows the therapist to apply a deeper pressure to areas of aching muscle.
Traditionally, the stamp was heated in a rice steamer. These days, a microwave is more commonly used, although this method is not without its problems. There's a slight delay in proceedings as Gemma confesses an over-zealous colleague has burnt the stamp she prepared earlier and she has to make up another one from scratch.
When it arrives, the new stamp doesn't appear to be particularly hot, but it does produce a smooth, even pressure, particularly when applied to the back, shoulders and neck. It is made up of natural clay, to draw out impurities and re-mineralise the skin. There are also extracts of ginger and white tea to stimulate the circulation.
At the end of the massage, the muslin bag is, rather neatly, snipped open and the contents form the base of the mud pack, which is the next stage of the treatment. This feels a bit chilly once applied, but a scalp massage proves a welcome distraction.
The mud sets into a thick, greenish consistency, which takes some showering off, but it is instantly soothing. Then it's back to the massage table for the application of moisturiser.
After the treatment, I feel relaxed and my skin is velvety-soft and hydrated, an effect which lasts for a full two weeks.
This is a good treatment at any time of the year, but particularly so as a pre-summer boost for those sadly neglected areas of the body.
For more information contact HQ Hair and Beauty on (01392) 494348, www.dermalogica.co.uk.