Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Massaging Your Partner

There's no better Valentine’s Day gift for the one you love than to offer him/her a nice massage…from the one they love! While a professional-level therapeutic massage is something that requires training and years of practice, To guide your hands during the massage of your partner, I have created a mnemonic device that stands for these reminders: Comfort, Unhurried, Pressure, Improve/Improvise and Duplicate; or…C.U.P.I.D.

Make certain that the massage receiver is comfortable in every way. Paying attention to the details of their comfort is very nurturing and being cared for, even “fussed over” feels indulgent in and of itself. By putting yourself “in charge” of your partners comfort it allows them to relinquish control for the duration of the experience and simply relax. If you are not a natural “caregiver” here is a checklist to ensure that the receiver of your massage is completely comfortable.

• Atmosphere, music, lights - soft, relaxing and spa-like
• Temperature - comfortable for person receiving massage to be unclothed
• Body position - receiver may need a neck pillow or elevated knees
• Removal of distractions - turn off cell phones & keep pets/kids out of the room

This should be your mantra for the pace of the massage. Even if your partner likes a brisk pace when receiving a professional massage, you, as the giver of massage, will need to think, interpret and adapt as you go. The best way to do that, with some finesse, is to go slowly.

Also try to move slowly, not only in the pace of your strokes but also in your progression from one area to another. One of the biggest mistakes, new and non-massage therapist make, is simply not spending enough time in one are before moving on to the next. A slow pace will also help you move gracefully through transitions from one part of the body to another without the massage coming to an abrupt halt.

It may seem boring and very repetitious to you but when receiving a relaxing massage, it takes the body a moment to recognize a massage stroke, respond to it consciously (and give feedback about it to the giver) and then respond to it unconsciously. It is that unconscious respond that allows the receiver to actually begin to give over to the relaxation massage encourages within the mind and the body.

A good massage is conditional upon a number of factors, including the amount of pressure used in the treatment. But, gauging pressure is one of the most difficult aspects of giving a massage. Part of the difficulty in gauging massage pressure lies in its inherent subjective, intuitive nature. It is, more than any other, a skill you have to get the "feel" for. This requires practice and careful consideration of the way the muscles are responding to your touch. Yet despite these difficulties, there are some general guidelines you can follow.

Gauging pressure when giving a massage is dependent on two factors:
1. The part of the body being touched
2. The type of massage being performed.

The area of the body on which you are working will determine to some degree the amount of pressure you apply. In many cases common sense will dictate how much pressure you should use. For example, you would never use as much pressure to the side of the neck as you would the back. Areas of the body full of pressure points, such as the top of the feet, will require a more gentle approach than the shoulders. It should also be said that parts of the body which are bruised, inflamed or torn should not be worked on at all.

The pressure you apply when giving a massage varies based on the type of massage you are giving. For example, in a basic relaxation massage, commonly known as a "Swedish" massage, you would use a relatively light touch.

Ultimately, the massage recipient is the judge of whether or not the pressure is correct, and for this reason, a good idea is to communicate with him or her regarding the pressure. Tell them to let you know if the pressure is too hard or too soft.

By working slowly you will develop the ability to begin to feel changes in the tissue you are working on. That information will help you learn how to massage your partner in a way they will enjoy. If you are not sure…ask! Does this feel could? How can I make it feel better?

This is also the time to try different “tools”. Does a stroke down the back feel better with a flat palm or a forearm? Is both are equally good then you can alternate for variations. In order to improve you must be willing to try things in different ways and get feedback from your partner. This will require a bit of patience on both you parts but the payoff is worth it.

While focusing on one area at a time, you will begin to discover those moments of “perfection” when a type of stroke, pressure, direction feels incredibly good to your partner. So, duplicate that combination…

o In the same place, by repeating it
o On the opposite side of the body
o In other parts of the body that have similar tissue

By using CUPID as a guide you and your partner can learn how to massage each other. Of course if your goals are more ambitious, I do a private tutorial and show couples some basic therapeutic massage techniques in a private session and they both get to give and receive---it’s a great Valentine’s Day present! For more information, check out the SPECIALS tab on my website.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Spa-Inspired Holiday Gifts

Home (or ambient) fragrance is a huge category in both spa boutiques and mass marketers and if you want the best of the best a company called Serene House offer some amazing products.

These room diffusers are as beautiful visually as they are fragrant. The “flute” design you see here not only cycles through colors with light but also shifts from one aroma to the next for a fragrant sequence that keep your senses engaged.

For something more personal, check out Ajne Pure Botanical Scents and Jewelry. This company started in a beautiful little boutique in Carmel by the Sea. Many of the extracts come from their own organic gardens and if you really want something special they create bespoke fragrances on demand—it doesn’t get more personal than that!

Since the “spa lifestyle” is about health AND beauty, many of the products are designed with people I mind who pursue “healthy activities such as yoga and pilates.
The gorgeous bags created by One Bag One Life - are ultra-light, universal lifestyle totes designed with plenty of portability for all of life's necessities (from laptop to Yoga mat). It’s a trendy collection that truly combines functionality and fashion. Retail price points $30-$170.00

“Green” products are very important to the spa market and everyone is talking about these cheeky bags from Thursday/Friday. They make “bringing your own bags” for everything from lunch to laundry stylish and fun. The prints on bags come in many different styles and different colors. The signature Together bag is just $65, the Super size is $90, and the zip clutches are $35.

The AcuMat utilizes acupressure to trigger the release of endorphins by the mat's pressure points. Endorphins are hormones that are chemically related to pain relief and a sense of physical well-being.

Regular users of the AcuMat, report the following benefits:
• Improved sleep
• Deep sense of relaxation
• Stress relief
• Positive mental outlook

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What I Spied at ISPA

Without a doubt, one of the coolest parts of my job, as a spa industry educator, is the opportunity I get each year to attend the International Spa Association Conference, known as ISPA. The ISPA trade show floor is a virtual candy store for any beauty industry enthusiast, offering the latest and greatest goodies from the world of skin and body care, spa amenities and even fitness. These incredible products eventually make their way into spas and fitness centers all over the globe. In fact, some of these treats and treasures may already be on the shelves or on their way to local spas but, I wanted to give my Love Your Look followers an advance preview of some of the most interesting and innovative products that were featured at this incredible event.

Sure, ISPA always has the incredible assortment of beautiful bath products, aromatic candles, plush robes but, what I focused on was the newest and most cutting edge products.

PaloVia Skin Renewing Laser - - $499
Fractional laser technology has been used by dermatologists worldwide for more than a decade. Now, for the first time ever, this same technology has been adapted and perfected for your use at home. Rigorous safety testing, which included hundreds of clinical study participants performing more than 7,500 eye-area treatments, contributed to an FDA clearance for the first fractional laser technology to treat fine lines and wrinkles around the eyes.

Like traditional medical lasers the Palovia laser works by creating what we call a controlled injury to the skin’s sub-layers (dermis). Then the body’s natural healing process rebuilds that tissue with fresh, new collagen and elastin – the crucial building blocks of smooth, youthful skin. On real faces that means that after one month of daily use, users should see visible improvement in the lines around the eyes.

This claim is based 2 significant evaluations:
1) A panel of doctors specializing in dermatology and plastic surgery reported: noticeable reduction in wrinkles in 92% of participants after just 1 month of daily treatments.
2) After 12 weeks of treatments, 84% of participants agreed that the PaloVia laser appears to eliminate fine lines rather than just reduce their appearance

Its design includes many features that reinforce proper use – including “smart” sensors that work with the PaloVia Pre-Treatment Gel to verify skin contact, helpful audio and visual cues, and automatic shut-off to prevent help overuse.
The science behind this is sound so if you are a “gadget girl or guy” with crow’s feet ... you gotta have this thing but (depending on your level of sensitivity) there is some discomfort.

Perhaps the most innovative product comes from a company called Lifeline. This company has taken a step away from their primary mission of: stem cell research to find cures for life-threatening illnesses, and they have applied one of their miraculous discoveries to the, annoying but non-life-threatening, problem of aging skin.

Lifeline’s multi-step patented process involves extracting peptides from living, but non-fertilized, stem cells (also referred to as: parthenogenetic stem cells) then encapsulating the peptides inside nanospheres. The formulation process is completed by adding antioxidants, vitamins and minerals to produce a high performance serum.
The result: Lifeline Recovery Night Moisture Serum (1 oz) which nurtures collagen and elastin and defends against free-radicals while you sleep. It retails at $190.00 so it is pricey, but if individual results come even close to their studies it will be worth every penny.

In a Mother Daughter study, researchers looked at fibroblast activity (these are the cells that essentially give birth to new cells) and they saw fibroblast activity increase by 1/3 in the mother’s which was actually higher than the daughter’s
They also saw massive increases in elastin (the substance that makes the skin springy) and types I and II collagen which increase skin firmness.

What I can tell you from my own usage (5 days and counting) is that the texture and density of my skin looks like it did 20 years ago. That rapid improvement will certainly keep me using it until my sample bottle runs out!

Delfin Spa - - MSRP: $39.99
Slimming and cellulite products come and go every year, so what makes this product different? Delfin Spa’s Bio-Ceramic Shorts act as a thermal agent to an effectively reduce visible cellulite and leg circumference. Because of the characteristics of bio-ceramic fibers, the shorts can be made less bulky than traditional, thick neoprene shorts, with greater effectiveness. Therefore, Delfin Spa shorts are comfortable to wear and can be worn under typical everyday clothes.

The Company’s Claim: The value of bio-ceramic is that it reflects the body’s own naturally generated Far Infrared Rays (in the form of body heat) and generates FIR to provide a thermal benefit to areas under the shorts.

I personally, have put on a few pounds in the hip/thigh area over the last few months, so I wore them for nearly 5 days straight. I took pre-shorts measurements, and on the areas I measured I did experience a reduction ( in nearly every area I measured) by anywhere from 1/4 inch to 1-1/4 inch. Now, will it last when I stop wearing the shorts? I guess we’ll see. They are very comfortable, breathable and, if nothing else, a good way to skinny down long enough to squeeze into a tight dress or pair of pants that has mysteriously “shrunk”, if you know what I mean.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Mastering Menopause

Maybe it is on my radar more these days but, it seems to me that I am increasing asked skin care questions that correspond to the challenges that come with menopause. So, it was perfect timing when I was asked by the doctors of Riverside Gynecology to join them in creating an event entitled: Mastering Menopause.

So, here are the details: On August 2nd and 9th at 5:30pm at the Riverside Gynecology office, I will be speaking with Dr. Tari Anderson and Dr. Kate Hewitt, and Compounding Hormone Expert and Pharmacist: Tom Winn.

Our goal for this event is to present the broad range of options that currently exist for treating and managing the spectrum of changes that occur at this time in a woman’s life.

The event is free and reservations are not required but we’ll be giving “feel good” goodie bags to those who do pre-register by calling (513) 232-3232.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Save OR Splurge Gifts for Father’s Day

Whether your budget is large, or small, the perfect spa-inspired gift can be found in time for Father’s Day. As a massage therapist and spa professional, I have zeroed in on the grooming needs and the top spa services for my inspiration. Here are 4 great ideas for Dad and all you have to do is decide if you want to save or splurge.

For: Dads with Aching Shoulders

Save: Earth Therapeutics Anti-Stress Neck Pillow $11-20
This Neck Pillow is great for relaxing at home or on the go. Filled with flax seeds and made out of cotton a special stress-relieving aroma-therapeutic blend of herbal essences, this NECK PILLOW is designed to calm and comfort both the body and the mind. Ergonomically designed to gently drape around the neck, the Anti-Stress Neck Pillow enfolds you in its comforting embrace to relax and soothe tired, sore neck and shoulder muscles. The balmy mind-calming blend of chamomile, lavender, and citrus completes and enhances these physical benefits by offering a totally relaxing, sensory experience.
Where to buy: Kohls, Bed Bath and Beyond

Splurge: Tap Tech Massager $90
TAPTECH Shoulder Massager is preprogrammed to give you over twenty different types of massage. Once a programmed cycle completes, it will go through the cycle again. You can set strength of the massage by pressing on the High or Low button. Every time this button is pressed, it will go through Low to High and High to Low. TAPTECH is equipped with an automatic shut-off switch to prevent any injury to body and/or damage to the massager due to overheating. TAPTECH is equipped with a pair of commercial grade solenoids (borrowed from automotive technology) that makes it possible to generate a deep tissue massaging action. The vigorous pumping of the solnoids creates heat along with a deep tissue massage to give you the best massage possible in a portable device.
Where to Buy:

For: Dads who shave in the shower

Save: Shaving Post Shower Mirror $14.99
Unbreakable, fogless mirror with shaving cream holder and razor holder with suction cups for a secure hold on tile.
Where to buy: Bed Bath and Beyond

Splurge: “Z” Fogless 5X/1X Power Zoom Lighted Shower Mirror $39.99
Unbreakable, lighted magnification fogless mirror with Power Zoom™ offers 1X-5X magnification thanks to a push-button activated motorized mechanism which zooms in and out like a camera lens. Three LED lights positioned around the mirror provide for maximum illumination. Also features a clock with alarm and auto shut-off. Shower-ready with suction cups for a secure hold on tile, the mirror can also be used handheld for close up viewing or placed on its base as a vanity mirror.
Where to buy: Bed Bath and Beyond

For: Dads who LOVE a long hot showers

Save: Delta 5 Jet Shower Massage $19.99
An easy-on-the-budget option for a more luxurious shower.
Where to buy: Bed Bath and Beyond

Splurge: Waterpik Aquascape Ultra $99.99
Enjoy a luxurious spa inspired shower with this ultra showerhead. Features include an easy-turn spray selector, an in-arm dial that allows you to change sprays conveniently without mess or reaching, an integrated arm that extends shower directly overhead and 8 unique spray options ranging from soothing rain and power spray to circular massage.
Where to buy: Bed Bath and Beyond

For: Dads who have trouble sleeping

Save: Homedics SoundSpa Mini $9.99
This portable, battery operated mini SoundSpa™ lets you take relaxing moments with you wherever you go. Its small profile makes it perfect for packing and traveling with, while its four natural sound choices of brook, ocean, rain and dock side provide a natural sleep aid. Choose from 15, 30 or 45 auto off timer intervals.
Where to buy: Bed Bath and Beyond

Splurge: Sound Oasis Sleep Sound Therapy $79.99
Featuring authentic nature sounds, this sound therapy system (which was designed by a sleep expert) blocks out irritating noises, and creates a soothing atmosphere so users fall asleep easier, get higher quality sleep and feel more alert throughout the day. Change sound themes by inserting a new memory card containing 12 different sounds. The unit features extra long, high fidelity sounds for exceptional sound realism, a backlit alarm clock that lets you wake to a buzzer or any sound, a four-position timer (continuous, 30, 60, and 90 minutes), a feature that slows down sound playback to lull user to sleep, a headphone /speaker pillow jack, and a one-touch off/resume button that stops the unit or repeats your last played sequence. The omnidirectional reflective speaker delivers rich, deep sound.
Where to buy: Bed Bath and Beyond

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Spa-Inspired Mother’s Day Gifts

We all know a spa gift certificate is a great Mother’s Day gift but it’s not perfect for every mom or every budget. Let’s face it, you just can’t get much for under $40 dollars at any area spa and even spa gift baskets can be expensive so here are my tips to help you put together a spa-inspired gift that’s under $40 and can be presentation ready in under 40 minutes.
On a recent shopping spree at Target I challenged myself to create 3 luxurious-looking gift sets for under $40 each. This first one which I call: “Tranquili-Tea” began with an inspirational item—a pretty teapot and matching mug. Most spa serve herbal teas to help relax the guest and so the idea here is to plan a moment of uninterrupted calm before bedtime for Mom and serve her some tea and tranquility. After finding the teapot ( a bargain at only $9.08) I gathered together some Yogi Bedtime Herbal Tea, a luxury Sleep Mask, a soothing scented candle in a gorgeous blue cobalt glass by Illume, and “Cloud 9” body lotion.
All the packaging was in shades of restful blue to compliment the flowers on the teapot. To avoid spending money on the container to pull it all together, I took a plain brown shallow box and simply wrapped complimentary fabric around it, folding the fabric in over the sides. The excess fabric actually creates a little nest for the items, so no need for any “stuffing”. Cost: $38.00
The next one, “Bathing Beauty” came together with a sea-side spa theme. I started with an inexpensive tote bag (only $2.50) and then added beach-themed beauty items like: Dead Sea Bath Crystals, Crystal Waters Body Lotion, an Exfoliating Bath Cloth by Bathery and a Salt Water Orchid Soy Candle. Cost: $34.00
My final creation is called: “Petals in Pink” An inexpensive min-hat box serves as the container. To that I add a crushable hot pink hat that also doubles as filling and and some super-feminine items such as a flower-printed mini brush and sunglasses, a floral hair clip, Sweet Petals Body Cream and a pink crystal covered nail file—all in compact sizes for purses or packing on summer trips.
If you don’t’ think you have a flair for creating your own gift basket, then Tonya Tate at Nature’s Bath in Ludlow KY will create something incredibly special for you. Her soaps look like confections and smell like a summer garden. And since her company is local she will do everything humanly possible to get gift items to you in time for Mother’s Day.
Where to Buy: To purchase Nature’s Bath Soaps call: Tonya at 859.835.1616. All of the other items above came from Target except for the crystal nail file which can be purchased at On The Bend Salon in Ft. Thomas, KY. Call Lynn at 513.520.2853

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Getting Your "Glow" for Spring

Spring Break and Prom Season mean that many teens in the tri-state are heading for the tanning salons to “get their glow on”. But if you are a parent who is considering giving in to the requests from your teen to tan, you may want to consider the latest trends and warnings before saying “yes”.

As of April 8, children under 18 years of age were officially banned from using ultraviolet (UV) tanning devices in Great Britain. And, tanning salon staffers, who allow minors to tan, could be liable for fines which in the US would be the equivalent of about $33,000.

While this may seem like a drastic measure, there are those who want to see the same type of restrictions here in the US. In recent statements The American Academy of Pediatrics recently called for all US tanning salons to bar minors. With this new policy statement, the AAP joins The American Medical Association, The World Health Organization, The American Academy of Dermatology and The Skin Cancer Foundation in demanding a US ban on indoor ultraviolet (UV) tanning for young people.

It is, likewise, my hope that this comes to fruition. All of these respected agencies are using their collective medical muscle to drive home the point that: UV damage is cumulative and often irreversible, and the earlier people start to tan, the higher their risk of developing skin cancer in their lifetimes. In the meantime, I would simply encourage parents to consider this: that young people who start tanning indoors before the age of 35 increase their risk of developing melanoma (the deadliest form of skin cancer) by 75 percent.

Any annoying squawking about “pale clashing with the prom dress” can be easily remedied with a spray tan. This was exactly the point made by a recent feature in Seventeen magazine too; which hired my pal Jill Goldman and her company, South Florida Spray Tan, to give a “Faux Glow” to the cover girls for the piece.

The Skin Cancer Foundation has also launched a campaign called Go With Your Own Glow that is targeted at young women to encourage the avoidance of the tanning beds and sunbathing.

Get a clue girls (and guys)--skin cancer is preventable; and no amount of makeup will camouflage the chunks they will need to take out of your skin if you continue to tan. As an industry colleague of mine once pointed out: “Nobody would put their liver inside a tanning bed, but they still stick their largest organ in there!” So…don’t bake it…fake it!