Spa Glossary – A
When you visit your favorite spa, do you ever feel as though the people working there speak a different language? If you don’t know effleurage from Rolfing, you may find our Spa Glossary a helpful tool in understanding spa treatments and products. At Glen Ivy Hot Springs we are committed not only to providing memorable and meaningful experiences for you, but also to helping you understand why spa treatments and services are an integral part of body, mind and spirit wellness.
We’ll be sharing terms until we get through the whole alphabet, after which we’ll compile them all for an online Spa Glossary resource. If you have any spa terms you’d like some help defining, please be sure to leave a comment below.
Acupressure: The traditional Chinese system of healing based on the application of finger pressure and massage to meridians (energy channels).
Acupuncture: An ancient Chinese system of healing based on inserting small needles into meridian points (energy points) throughout the body to dissolve obstructions in the flow of energy and to correct organ and system imbalances.
Aloe Vera: Also known as aloe pryi or aloe barbadensis. This plant is colloquially called the first-aid plant. There over 300 species of the aloe plant. It is commonly indigenous to South Africa. The gel inside the leaves of the plant contains a significant percentage of water, aloins, sterols, and albumin. It has been used medicinally for thousands of years. Commonly used for the treatment of burns and as an emollient.
Alpha Hydroxy Acids: Alpha hydroxy acids, or AHAs, chemically exfoliate the dead skin cells or the inter-cellular glue that holds the dead skin cells to the skin. Acids used to remove dead skin cells penetrate in to the skin and dissolve this cellular glue. In general, acids must be neutralized to stop the exfoliation process.
Amino Acids: These are the body’s protein building blocks. There are 22 amino acids, 8 of which cannot be made by the body but need to be supplemented through a healthy diet. Amino acids are commonly used as emollients and moisturizers in many skin products.
Antioxidant: Antioxidants help to reduce free-radical damage in the body. As relating to the skin, antioxidants help fight free radical damage from the sun, pollutions and other stresses on the skin. Common antioxidants are Vitamin C, E, superoxide dismutase, and certain forms of Vitamin A. Antioxidants can be taken in orally with any form of fruit or vegetable, as well as in oral dietary supplements, and can be applied directly to your skin. Antioxidant vitamins are a very important part of many skin care regimens.
Arnica: This herb is found typically in the Northern Hemisphere. It can be applied externally to help treat bruising and muscle soreness. Commonly used in massage oils and muscle rubs. It is also known as wolf’s bane.
Aromatherapy: The practice of stimulating the senses through aromatic essences by using natural botanical essential oils from plants, leaves, bark, roots, seeds, resins and flowers. These essences can be used for various treatments including total body massage, inhalation therapy and baths. The word ‘aromatherapy’ was first coined by the French in the 1930s.
Astringent: Generally refers to any skin care product in which there is an alcohol content of up to 35%. Toners are now more commonly used in place of astringents. Toners contain natural ingredients like witch hazel or tea tree water and a natural wheat alcohol of less than 15%. Astringents, toners, tonics and fresheners are terms used interchangeably and have the following effects:
- Remove residue left behind from cleansers and masks
- Restore skin’s natural pH from cleansing, peels or masks
- After masks or peels containing enzymes or acids a toner can neutralize active ingredients and tell them to STOP working
- Can be corrective for certain skin conditions
- Have a temporary tightening effect on the skin
Aqua (water) Aerobics: Aerobic exercise performed in a swimming pool; the water provides support and added resistance. Reduced impact to the body makes this a particularly advantageous form of exercise for the overweight, elderly, post-medical trauma or mobility impaired.
Ayurvedic Treatment and Massage: Various facial and body treatments and massages that are based in the ancient Indian “Science of Life.” Treatments and massages are performed according to each individual’s dosha or body and constitution type. Ayurvedic treatments and massage seek to bring balance to the body and mind.