Head out to any beauty supply store, salon, or well-stocked drugstore to choose among dozens of options in the realm of scrubbing agents. Salts from the Dead Sea in Israel are what I personally recommend. They are extremely high in magnesium chloride, potassium chloride, and calcium, three vitally important minerals. The salts can be mixed at a ratio of two tablespoons water per cup and used solo, or you can add grainy flakes of organic cornmeal and a few drops of your favorite aromatherapy oil, as they do at Charlie's spa.
If you can't find Dead Sea salts, any sea salt will do. The heavier the grain, the more intense the exfoliating action will be, which often causes redness, especially on people with light-complected, sensitive skin. The redness - or hyperemia, as therapists call it - is nothing to worry about. If someone is extremely sensitive, though, you'll want to opt for more gentle scrubbing mixtures, and there are plenty of them around today. Most of those commercially available make creative use of naturally occurring substances. One of my favorites is a combination of finely ground almond shells and tiny bits of sea kelp in a cleansing base.
Here are two easy recipes for your own home use. Remember, no matter what you use, it is important that it be kept warm. Nothing's worse than relaxing for a treatment, only to have cold salt slathered on your skin. You can keep your cup or plastic bottle warm by placing it under the hot water faucet before giving the treatment.
1/2 cup sea salt
1/2 cup organic cornmeal
3 drops each lavender, chamomile, and rosemary essential oils
2 tablespoons spring water
Mix thoroughly into a grainy paste.
PAPAYA FACIAL BLEND
1/4 cup ripe papaya
2 teaspoons aloe vera gel
2 tablespoons cosmetic clay (from your beauty supply store)
Mix the ingredients in your blender. You can store this mixture for a few days in your refrigerator, but make sure it's warmed up again before you apply it to the sensitive skin of your honey.
Step by Step
1. Don't forget to employ Conscious Pleasure Principle Number three: Greetings. Warmly welcome your man home from his day. Tell him how special he is and how much he deserves to be treated royally. Help him out of his jacket or shirt. Tell him you have something special planned for him.
2. Lead him to the comfortable chair you've prepared. You can also have him lie down on the edge of the bed or a massage table, on top of a sheet. Place a towel beneath his head to protect the sheets and furniture from stains.
3. Wipe away the day's grime from his face with a cotto pad soaked in a bracing skin toner. Do this for the neck too, and back along the jaw to his ears. This is wonderfully cooling and invigorating.
4. The first of the hot towels from your STU comes out now. Open it up to let the first hit of steam escape, then lower it down onto his face, being careful not to cover his mouth and nose. After a minute pull the towel gently away.
5. Spend a few minutes minutely examining your man's face. Does he have blackheads or whiteheads? If there are any obvious problems you think you can address, go ahead, making sure your hands and nails are extra clean. The most sanitary way to do this is with a piece of tissue paper between your fingers and his face. Remembering to be extremely gentle, squeeze softly from opposite sides of a blackhead, pushing in toward the center. Of course, for the full deep cleansing of a "real" spa facial, he'll have to visit a professional.
6. Take your (warmed) papaya puree, and spread it out slowly over his face with your fingers, using light massage motions, making sure always to move up toward the top of his head. You can also apply it to his neck, which feels incredible, and it's good for the sensitive skin there as well.
7. With the papaya blend still on his face, apply hot towel number two. Unfold the towel, and lay the center gently over his forehead - then circle the ends down around his chin, covering the skin but leaving a little breathing space over the mouth and nose. Let this remain until it is completely cooled off, usually after four or five minutes. Apply the third towel then, to keep his face--and the enzymes in the papaya--warm. It's the heat that activates the enzymes, letting them do their work of activating a deep-cleansing process in the pores.
8. While the hot towels are resting on his face and he is relaxing, take one of his hands at a time, and apply the hand massage strokes listed in Chapter 8. Take your time. Give each hand a full five minutes. Then switch the towel and begin the other hand. Use a rich, soothing cream for the massage.
9. With the last towel that was on his face, carefully wipe up the papaya. You may need an extra towel for this as well.
10. As an option, you may decide to apply a seaweed mask to his face and let it dry. Then either peel or scrub it off, depending on the product. Thicker "rubbery" masks can be peeled off, while thin powder masks can be scrubbed away. (The seaweed listed in Appendix A is of the thinner variety.) Remember to apply only upward strokes and to work gently on the delicate skin of the face. This will add the health-enhancing effects of ingredients found in seaweed, but the papaya facial alone is plenty luxurious enough--don't worry if you haven't gotten your seaweed yet.
11. Using a moisturizing facial cream and slow loving strokes, massage his face. Follow the guidelines for face massage in Chapter 8, remembering to pay attention and not to hurry. How does his jaw feel between your fingertps? What is the texture of his cheeks? Do you feel the beginning of stubble there after a long day? Glide your fingers over each area, rubbing out care, breathing in relaxation.
12. For the last minute, pull up little portions of his skin between the very tips of your fingers, bringing circulation up to the surface and adding that rosy, refreshed glow to his face. As a final step, when he feels like getting up again, have him took in the mirror for a moment. Is the man he sees now a little different from the one who walked through the door a little while ago? You can congratulate yourself on helping him see the real him.
When he's in the middle of his Gentleman's Facial, remind your man to breathe, enjoying Conscious Pleasure Principle Number Five --Immersion. At first, it may be a strain for him to let himself feel good about the papaya puree spread on his face. It's up to you to remind him that this is his time to forget about everything else, to be taken care of instead of constantly taking care, to let go and let love in.
You will need a few ounces of herbs, the fresher the better (although fresh dried are fine too), preferably from a healthy organic source.
Good choices for beginning wraps are:
1. Chamomile: for soothing the nerves and skin
2. Ginger root (in small amounts): for stimulating
circulation and as a diuretic
3. Eucalyptus leaves: for the lungs and respiratory system
4. Rosemary leaves: for the skin and muscles
5. Clove stems: for soothing aches and pains
6. Peppermint (in small amounts): for stimulating
circulation and soothing nerves
7. Lemongrass: for its antiseptic properties
- A combination of three or four herbs is good to start with. Try chamomile, lemongrass, and rosemary if they're available. Add peppermint or ginger for more stimulation and detoxification.
- A small muslin bag or a piece of cheesecloth in which to tie up the herbs for soaking.
- A high-quality sheet for soaking and wrapping is important. Muslin is the best, but natural unbleached cotton in a thick weave will do nicely as well.
- A pot to heat water in and make the herbal solution.
- A pair of thick rubber gloves, so you don't scald your fingers.
- A rubberized sheet, or Space Blanket, or piece of plastic (like a drop cloth).
- Finally, a wool blanket.
First, lay out the wool blanket on the floor or massage table, then the plastic or rubber on top of that. Put an ounce of fresh herbs, or half an ounce of dried herbs, in a piece of cloth or muslin bag, secure the top, and immerse in two gallons of hot water (160-180 degrees) for at least twenty minutes.
Your partner should be either soaking in a hot tub or taking a hot shower during the ten minutes prior to the wrap. If you have a sauna, steam, or Jacuzzi available, that's even better.
You can either soak the herbl sheet in the hot solution. Or steam it. If you soak it, make extra sure to wear good rubber gloves while wringing it out, or you might burn your fingers. Steaming the sheet on a rack above the hot solution also works, and it's easier on your fingers, but the sheet doesn't absorb quite as much herbal essence this way. If you choose to steam the sheet, wet it and wring it out beforehand, preferably in a cooler herbal solution.
Step by Step
Once your sheet, the wrapping blankets, and your partner are prepared, you're ready to ...
1. Open the hot, wrung-out herbal sheet, and spread it on top of the insulation blankets. Try to do this quickly, exposing the open sheet as little as possible to the air, because it will cool off fast, diminishing the effect of the treatment.
2. Have your partner lie down on her back on the hot sheet. She should be wearing as little as possible, in order to absorb the herbs into her skin. Encourage her to climb onto the sheet quickly, even if it feels quite warm, but check to make sure it won't burn her. The trick here is to wring every last drop of water out of the sheet first, because it's the water left inside that will feel too hot, not the fabric itself.
3. Wrap the hot sheet around your partner. If she's prone to claustrophobia, leave her arms outside of the wrap. Make the wrap snug but not suffocatingly close.
4. Immediately begin wrapping the insulating layers around your partner--first the plastic or rubberized sheet, then the wool blanket. Place a towel around her face and neck to keep the itchy wool away from sensitive skin.
5. Put a pillow under her knees. As soon as she begins perspiring or when she requests it, offer a cold compress for her forehead. It also feels delicious to have the droplets of perspiration wiped from the face and neck. A sip of room-temperature water can be offered through a straw.
6. Keep her wrapped for twenty minutes, with the lights in the room on low and soothing music playing in the background. Some people will want you to stay with them; others will be fine left alone. Always keep a watchful eye on your partner every few minutes at least. People sometimes feel vulnerable and helpless when wrapped up.
7. After twenty minutes, or whenever she's ready to come out, slowly unwrap your partner. Make sure to have a warm, comfy bathrobe close by because she'll feet chilled no matter how warm the room is when she emerges. Encourage her then to just relax for half an hour if possible, allowing the herbs to air-dry naturally on the skin. Give her a glass of water to drink, and tell her to drink at least three more glasses that day to help the body eliminate toxins and rehydrate.
The Advanced Wrap
If you want to develop more advanced techniques and perform Herbal Wraps very nearly the same as those given in bigger spas, see Appendix A for information about heating units, bulk herbs, and specialty sheets. The following are the pointthat you'll do differently if you've taken the extra step and purchased these items. This is especially appropriate for people who already do some therapy and want to expand their repertoire.
1.Use a Hydrocollator heating unit, instead of a pot on the stove, to maintain constant appropriate temperature.
2. Instead of steaming, always immerse the sheets directly in the hot herbal solution and then wring them out wearing rubber gloves.
3. Use muslin herbal sheets, high-quality insulation sheets, and 100-percent pure wool blankets.
4. Study herbology, and invent herbal solutions to suit your partner's changing moods and needs.
5. Practice your sheet-wrapping techniques over and over again until you're sure you have a practically airtight seal (without cutting off your partner's circulation).
MUD OR CLAY BATH
This is a great way to soak minerals directly into the skin. Heat from the bath water makes pores more open for absorption. Place half a cup of powdered clay in a hot bath (95 to 100 degrees). Stir it in thoroughly. When you submerge, try to visualize nutrients coming straight from the Earth into your body, replenishing you. A few moments of meditation are definitely in order for this "Earthy" treatment. Be careful not to stay too long, because after more than twenty or thirty minutes, the effect of hot water and clay together can end up drying your skin.
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