The glass cups were placed against Gwyneth Paltrow’s skin then lit with flame, creating a powerful suction which left a series of circular welts along her spine. After she arrived at a film premiere in a backless gown, the paparazzi went nuts, and the world was introduced to the practice of cupping. Cupping, ancient Asian practice intended to stimulate the circulation, is just one of dozens of rather unconventional treatments that are cropping up at spa destinations around the world.
Gone are the days of simple cold cream and Swedish massage. Nowadays, ailments like sore muscles and sallow skin are being remedied with snake massages and nightingale excrement facials.
It’s an old geisha trick. At the Diamond Spa at the Diamond Hawaii Resort & Spa in Maui, spa-goers looking for a little face finessing turn to the complexion-healing power of nightingale dung. The skin is treated with coating of dehydrated droppings, a technique used for centuries by geishas in Japan to repair damaged skin and create white, translucent-looking skin.
Booze therapy is also big. Cactus paddles in a hydrating tequila and cactus blend are used to knead during the Hakali Massage at Apuane Spa at the Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita in Mexico. And beer imbibers can sip their favorite lager while immersed in a tub full of active beer yeast and a mixture of crushed herbs at one hops-happy spa in the Czech Republic
Don’t know the color of your inner crystal? Spa-goers at Ole Henricksen’s Los Angeles spa are hypnotized into a state of relaxation with the Inner Peace Hypnotic Tranquility Session, while in Sedona, Ariz., relaxation-seekers find supreme serenity with the Aura-Soma Color Reading.
There, guests are given a life reading and massage based solely on their selection of bottled colors. And in several other spas in the area you can have your toes read.
“With treatments like perscentoelogy [toe reading – ed.] guests come in to relax, truly emotionally release, reflect and then learn techniques and skills that they can take with them for a lifetime,” says Marie Bernat, who conducts personality profiling sessions based on toe shape throughout several resorts in Phoenix and Scottsdale. “I guess you can say that perscentoelgy is a little life tune-up.”And in the end, there’s always your end. Smooth Synergy Cosmedical Spa in New York City offers the Fanny Facial. The spa has skipped the face completely and headed directly down south with a treatment that combines a body scrub, microcurrents to zap zits deep down, and a sunless tanning application that gets bottoms beach ready.
According to spa owner Nicole Contos,“The derriere is an area that is often neglected, but people are concerned about keeping it in shape and there aren’t many other spa treatments that pay attention to this area.”
So whether you’re a businessperson looking for a unique mid-meeting break, or a fan of the far out looking to take a trip to spa nirvana, ready your robe. We’re spanning the globe on a quest for extraordinary healing techniques.
Weird ways to unwind - Luxury- msnbc.com
TOP 5 bizarre spa treatments
1. The Geisha Facial
The name might sound innocent enough and it might even evoke the sensual image of a traditional Japanese geisha - until you discover that the geisha facial refers instead to a unique medical spa treatment that involves dabbing powder made from dehydrated bird droppings onto your face.
Used for centuries by Asian actors and actual geishas, the treatment has recently made its trip overseas and into some of the most high-profile spas in America - ranging from the famous Shizuka Spa in New York City to the more seasonable Diamond Hawaii Resort & Spa in Maui. Paying anywhere from $150 to $250 dollars for a single treatment, spa-goers from all over have been flocking to experience the skin-softening, enriching and smoothing power of the Geisha facial, with the treatment even making an awkward appearance on ABC's morning talk show The View.
So next time you're sitting under an awning and happen to find yourself the target of some renegade bird, simply remind yourself that those droppings that just landed on your new fedora might actually be worth more than the hat itself - that's the miracle of capitalism.
2. Snake Massage
NBC's hit reality show Fear Factor may not have been the first idea to capitalize off of sticking people into a vat full of snakes - apparently some spas have been making money off of this concept for decades. The only difference is that with snake therapies, it's the people paying the spa instead of the other way around. Hailing all the way from Israel, one of the world's most famous snake spas is not so discreetly named Ada Barak's Carnivorous Plant Farm, where guests eagerly line up to be massaged by these typically dangerous and disgusting reptiles - which the owner describes as being "therapeutic."
The massage typically costs around $80 and is said to "cure aching muscles and joints" and provide a "relaxing massage." But as far as I can tell, the only thing keeping the snakes from being terrifying limb-less monstrosities is the price of the treatment, in which case my patented fart-sauna therapy costs $100 bucks, baby.
3. Butt Facials
Normally one wouldn't associate a butt with a facial - that is until the wonderful world of beauty spas came along and combined the two. Yes, thanks to ever-more creative ways to market beauty, there are now an increasingly popular set of beauty spa treatments that apply the same techniques used on one's face to improve the shape, skin and general posterity of one's royal cheeks. And while some of these therapies focus more on cleaning and detoxifying, other forms of the treatment aim to reduce cellulite and reshape the buttocks for a more perfect pair of buns, such as is offered by the Smooth Synergy spa in New York City which designates special therapists for work on the derriere portion of the body. And though the treatment can be expensive - running from $60 to $300 for a 90 minute session - advocates of the treatment swear to its legitimacy.
"People used to always harass me because of my large rear-end," Stacy Santiaggo from San Francisco said. "But after receiving my first butt-facial, I was signed to a modeling gig for Vogue magazine."
While Stacy's story might sound impressive, it is also made up. In fact, I couldn't find any evidence anywhere that 90 minutes with a good set of hands can undo the years of snacking and sitting around that ultimately shape our butts.
4. Leech Therapy
While leeches have been used for centuries to combat a variety of ailments from fever to flatulence, it's only recently that the slimy, wriggling blood-suckers have been making appearances in medical spas, and at up to several hundreds of dollars per session. Just to give you an idea of what this treatment entails, the beauty website Plasmetic - Plastic Surgery, Cosmetic Surgery - News, Forums lists the following as Procedure Highlights:
Highly trained medical leeches (how the hell do you train leeches?)
Shaving of the entire body before applying the leeches (I thought this was more commonly done for cancer patients)
Patient being immersed in turpentine (Turpentine? Really?)
Patient experiences a stinging sensation (you know, this is starting to not sound so fun)
It causes bleeding in the patient (okay, this is definitely not fun)
Oh! But it also makes the person look younger!
So if you're like me, you'll look over that list and take solace in the fact that only crazy people would subject themselves to such a disturbing "treatment." Well, think again because apparently this nightmarish version of bloodletting has made its way to Hollywood and is being touted by the likes of Demi Moore.
"I feel like I've always been someone looking for the cutting edge of things that optimize your health and healing" said Demi Moore. "I was in Austria doing a cleanse and part of the treatment was leech therapy."
Okay, I wish I were making this up - but unfortunately for the world, I'm not.
5. Swimming with the Fishes
It shouldn't surprise you that a Japanese-originated medical spa treatment showed up on this list. Instead, you should be surprised that this entire list isn't comprised of weird Japanese practices. But even so, the practice of using hundreds of tiny fish as a form of skin treatment seems to stand out above the rest of the crazy things Japanese do. This "unique" medical spa treatment has patrons "relaxing" in a tub full of fish to "clean and rejuvenate" the skin. Okay, so maybe the last line shouldn't be in quotations, but it's hard to believe that hundreds of nibbling goldfish (okay - they're not technically goldfish) could be any more productive than rubbing a luffa sponge over your legs for a few minutes.
But according to experts on the topic, the fish eat away at dead skin and leave you feeling fresh and dandy without the uncomfortable disfigurement that comes from fish like wild piranha.
So in conclusion, if you're ever feeling down about our current economic crises, perhaps you can take comfort in knowing that there's still enough money out there somewhere for some to justify paying hundreds of dollars for ridiculous treatments involving bird poop, leeches and snake baths.
The information in the article is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with an appropriate medical professional.
Beauty And The Crease: Strangest Medical Spa Treatments