Juice diets, detox, boot-camp, chia seeds, spirulina, protein shakes, aiyah! This Mama’s head is spinning with all the natural health crazes that are currently sweeping our small but perfectly formed microcosm. Of course, if we accept the concept that we are what we eat, that makes me a large portion of sweet treats – hmm, could be worse, but won’t do my health any good. I accept that the things we ingest make a massive difference to our health, energy levels and overall wellbeing. But as I soaked in the bath one evening, lazily reading the endlessly confusing list of ingredients on my bath-time beauty products, I began to think that what we eat and drink is only half the story when it comes to what we ingest.
I started to do some research into natural beauty alternatives to your run-of-the-mill shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, face wash and so on. Few people realise that we actually ingest 60% of everything we apply to our skin, directly into our bodies. When chemicals (such as preservatives and food additives) are ingested through the mouth, the body has a well-established channel of elimination (liver, kidneys) to safely deliver these chemicals out of the body. When chemicals are absorbed through the skin, however, they enter the bloodstream immediately and are deposited in tissues and organs. The body can easily become overwhelmed with toxins and has to work extra hard to eliminate them. If the chemical burden becomes too much, illness ensues.
Actually, I am far too busy chasing the little ones around to be overly concerned about being a barefoot organic beauty, but if there was a way to eliminate some of the chemicals from our lives, well that has to be a good thing. And so with this in mind, I was thrilled to be invited to explore the all organic treatments at the brand new Hollywood Road branch of Iyara day spas. I had previously visited the Prince’s Terrace spa, but this location offers an entirely new concept: beauty without the nasties. This totally appeals to my country girl sensibilities, and if I didn’t end up looking like I’d slept in a tree, I’d happily surround myself with plants and flowers and wander barefoot around the place, creating my own magic beauty potions like I did so happily as a child.
It turns out, there is a little more science to this concept than mashing up rose petals with a bucket and spade (we all did that right?) The wonderful therapists took one look at my over-straightened, over-processed, over-bleached hair, and my apparently red and stressed scalp, and very discreetly advised on the all-natural nourishing scalp mask with fresh avocado, honey and apricot oil hair mask (men $950 / women long/medium $1000/$900).
My scalp was coated in the signature Marma herbal scalp mask, brand new to Hong Kong, flown in from Thailand containing plai ginger, also known as cassumunar ginger: zingiber cassumunar, a relative of ginger but with a much stronger scent. The plai oil is used in traditional Thai remedies to ease pain and inflammation; studies have shown the plai root to also have anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. My hair was then coated in a fresh hair mask made from avocado to hydrate and nourish, honey-for hydrating and healing, and apricot oil for its nourishing and restorative properties. I was then all wrapped up in a cosy turban type arrangement, before relaxing in the blissfully peaceful day spa. After 90 minutes, my hair was washed using all-natural, plant based products, before rosemary oil was applied and my hair was dried. I was really impressed with the difference the treatment had made; my hair was now smooth, silky and felt really clean. My once itchy scalp felt soothed and irritation free.
I was lucky enough to meet with the brains behind this concept for Hong Kong, and discuss some of the benefits of organic beauty. I was informed that most skincare products on the market, even health food store brands, contain chemical additives and preservatives. This is true even if a product is 99% natural and contains only a small percentage of chemicals. The body is such a complex living organism that it takes only a minuscule amount of chemicals to disrupt common bodily systems. The Iyara concept seeks to completely eliminate chemicals from beauty, from shampoo, face wash, deodorant, right through to nail polish, make-up, and everything in-between. It’s about being the real you, natural and healthy. Sounds good to me, and this mama is going to give it a try!
Iyara, 2/F, 27 Hollywood Road, Central, 2523 8700, www.iyaranaturaltherapies.com