Blog Post

Aveda Facials, Hot Stones and Aromatherapy

SH writes: "I have been getting regular facials at an Aveda salon.  At the beginning of the facial, she rubs scented oils on her hands and places the palms of her hands directly above my face and lets them hover there for about a minute as I breathe in the oils.  Is this a form of Reiki?  It makes me uncomfortable as I feel it is a sort of energy channel when she does this.  Also, they offer placing hot stones on your hands or feet and wrapping them in a towel during the facial.  Is this ok?"

essential oilsThere are several different questions in here so I'll answer them one at a time.

For those of you who are not familiar with Aveda, these are clinics that offer a plant-based hair, skin-care, makeup and lifestyle product line along with massage and other beauty-oriented services. Owned by Este Lauder, Aveda claims its products have pure flower and plant essences at their core.

According to this website, Aveda products are very much aligned with Ayurvedic medicine which is an ancient Indian medicine system based on a pagan belief that health comes from the proper integration and balancing of the body, mind and spirit with the surrounding universe. The pantheistic belief in a universal life force is central to this belief system.

"The relationship of Aveda and globally sought physicians and scholars Dra Vinod and Kkusum Upadhyay, has meant that thousands of years of vedic and ayurvedic tradition can influence and filter through into our products. Their guidance enabled identification of aroma blends that stimulate the chakras (energy wheels within the body), and launch innovative plant based formulas that are inspired by the very roots of ayurvedic treatments."

Being based in Ayurveda medicine is nothing to brag about. As this blog explains, these concoctions have been found to be very unsafe with some medicines containing high levels of toxic metals and even arsenic.

However, because this is essentially a cosmetic line with none of the products meant for ingestion, using Aveda products on hair and skin should be safe.

As for allowing you to inhale scented oils during your facial, this is not Reiki but is another practice popular among New Agers known as Aromatherapy. It involves the use of essential oils from plants for healing and is typically used either by inhaling or by massaging into the skin. Essential oils are concentrated extracts taken from the roots, leaves, seeds, or blossoms of plants, each containing its own particular active ingredients which determine what the oil will be used for. Some are used for physical healing, others to enhance relaxation or relieve stress.

As this article from LiveScience states, there have been too few studies conducted on these oils and their uses to determine effectiveness.

"Although many essential oils have pleasant smells and some of their active ingredients are purported to have health benefits, there is limited scientific evidence that they actually improve people's health or mood."

As for the hot stones, some members of the professional massage community view these as a way to make additional money while clients are having their hair done or, as in your case, a facial, etc. These treatments are generally offered to relieve tension, soothe joint pain, etc. However, there are some wacky hot stone treatments out there so beware, including by one pioneer in the field, Mary D. Nelson, who claims her spirit guide led her to the discovery!

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