The aroma of fresh coconutEmbodies the tropical experience of relaxation, health and natural beauty. While the heady scent and smooth texture of coconut oil feels like pure indulgence during a body treatment, the fruit itself offers more than just an aromatic, relaxing experience. Coconut, known as one of nature’s most nourishing fruits, revitalizes the skin from the outside and restores healthy skin and hair from the inside.
Jewel of the tropicsThe coconut (cocos nucifera) is regarded as the jewel of the tropics. Although its center of origin or birthplace is believed to have been the islands of the South Pacific, the coconut itself is not the type of plant to remain static. The seed (the coconut itself) floats! By being such a buoyant seed (a big one at that!), it traveled around the world. The nut floated for long distances on ocean currents, and when it washed ashore on a beach with a suitable climate, the plant became established and colonized the area. The coconut palm has been cultivated for thousands of years.
Beneficial properties of coconutsCoconut oil is ideal for skin and hair care because it contains mostly fats, so it acts as an emollient that naturally softens, restores and moisturizes. It helps protect the skin from the aging effects of free radicals. In fact, physiologist and biochemist Ray Peat, Ph.D. considers coconut oil to be an antioxidant, due to its stability and resistance to oxidation and free radical formation. For best results, it is important to use only extra virgin coconut oil that has not been hydrogenated, bleached, refined or deodorized.
Coconut oil provides the following health and anti-aging beauty benefits for skin:
• It improves the quality and appearance of skin by eliminating dead skin cells and reducing flaking skin
• It softens and heals small wounds caused by acne or pimples
• It soothes itchiness and dryness (effective for dermatitis and psoriasis)
• It possesses proven antibacterial and antifungal properties
• It hydrates hair and scalp
The cherished coconut is gaining new status as a sophisticated super food. When asked what he recommended eating for better skin, Nicholas Perricone, M.D., author of The Wrinkle Cure, responded, “Coconut. Eating coconut helps strengthen the skin’s connective tissues to help keep skin soft, smooth and supple. Both coconut oil and coconut water increase skin radiance and antioxidant protection to prevent infection and fight off free radicals.”
Ancient coconut beauty ritualsI was fortunate to have a personal experience at the origin of ancient coconut treatments when I was in the Caribbean last September. At the Indulgence by the Sea Spa in St. Maarten, I elected to try their Luscious Body (80 minutes, $120) treatment, which offered hydration and exfoliation using raw sugar granules, rich virgin coconut oil and mango.
My massage therapist, Avis Myers, being a local from the islands, kindly taught me more about this magical fruit, the coconut. “In the Caribbean Islands, the coconut has been used for hundreds of years to nourish and heal the skin. I remember as a child my grandmother showed me how to grate coconut meat to use as a body scrub. We would make skin and hair balms made with coconut milk and oil,” she explained.
Signature coconut treatmentsThe coconut found a home in all of the islands it floated by centuries ago. Today, coconut treatments have taken root in spas across the United States. The trending popularity of the coconut, no doubt, will continue to inspire the creation of luxurious signature spa treatments for a very long time.
At the Bellagio spa in Las Vegas, NV, one of their most decadent treatments is the Deep Coconut Surrender (80 minutes, $250), designed to hydrate and protect the skin from the desert’s dryness. During the deep tissue treatment, clients are massaged with warm rocks and hot towels, and warm coconut milk is drizzled along the spine and legs.
At the Ti Kayé Resort & Spa in Castries, Saint Lucia, clients’ bodies are gently rubbed and then wrapped with pure coconut in the coconut (90 minutes, $150) treatment. The service includes an oriental foot ritual, coconut body scrub, coconut body wrap and body massage with coconut oil.