The Giving Tree
Long before 16th-century Germans decorated evergreens and brought them into their homes to celebrate Christmas, plants and trees that remained green year-round held sacred meaning for many cultures and people, especially in December. Ancient Egyptians decorated their homes with green palm fronds at the winter solstice, marking the god Ra’s return to health. Romans celebrated the shortest day and the longest night with a feast called Saturnalia in honor of Saturn, the god of agriculture, because their crops would soon begin to grow, and they decorated their temples and homes with evergreen boughs. The Druids hung fir, pine, and spruce to symbolize everlasting life. And like the trees that bring life and color all year long—perhaps most noticeably in the dead of winter—evergreen spa treatments provide those same benefits to dry, lifeless skin and tired muscles.
Because evergreen essential oils are derived from fresh needles, twigs, and wood, the function they serve the tree is similar to the boost they provide the body, says Tom Havran, product formulator and aromatherapy specialist at Aura Cacia. “Leaves—needles in this case—transpire air in an inverse manner to us, they consume our exhaled carbon dioxide and exhale pure oxygen, which we inhale,” Havran explains. “Twigs, limbs, and wood are the arms, legs, and body of the tree, providing the supporting framework for the tree through which these vital essences flow.”
Havran suggests adding 24 drops of any Aura Cacia essential evergreen oil—Blue Cypress, Texas Cedarwood, Cypress, Cypress Organic, Balsam Fir Needle, Pine, or Pine Organic—or a combination of the oils to four ounces of water in a spray bottle and shaking and misting it into the air to provide a “cleansing, purifying, and meditative forest-like aroma that will encourage deep breathing and opening of the senses.” Havran also suggests incorporating evergreen oils in foot treatments, such as a sugar foot scrub, a mineral foot bath, or a foot massage.
Evergreens also help recharge the body, which makes them a great ingredient to use in bath soaks and massages, such as the Skier’s Massage/Elemis Signature Spa Massage ($140, 50 minutes; $180, 80 minutes) offered at The Spa at Hotel Park City (Utah). “Juniper and marine pine are known to ease aching muscles because of their analgesic qualities,” says Jane Terry, national trainer for Elemis USA. “In addition, pine essential oil increases metabolism and thus boosts activity levels.”
Evergreens can also be paired with rosemary to help ease stiff joints and arthritic pain or sea fennel to cleanse and detoxify the skin. Combining evergreen with detoxifying and stimulating ingredients can also help boost circulation and cleanse and enhance skin. Considering its ability to purify, heal, and stimulate, moor mud is an ideal ingredient to combine with evergreen in spa services, says Melissa Morris, corporate educator for Pevonia International. Guests at the Renaissance European Day Spa (Fayetteville, NC) can enjoy the Aromatic Moor Mud ($90, 60 minutes) body therapy treatment, which begins with an aromatherapy salt scrub to exfoliate followed by an application of Pevonia Botanica’s moor mud infused with pine essential oil. The treatment purifies skin and boosts circulation, says Morris.
And unlike some floral or fruit scents, the invigorating aroma of evergreens appeals to both women and men. It smells clean, fresh, and natural and brings the great outdoors in. “On an aesthetic level, who couldn’t love the fresh, woodsy aroma of these oils, which are evocative of a trip to the mountains?” asks Havran. This scent is often popular with male clients, so Morris suggests tailoring evergreen services to men suffering from back acne or creating a sports treatment for clients who are experiencing muscle tension and are in need of healing.
While evergreens provide benefits to many spa-goers, pregnant women should avoid evergreen treatments and products, as they can enter the blood stream and may induce miscarriage. Clients with bronchial asthma and difficulty breathing, whooping cough, infections, or existing unknown lesions should also steer clear of evergreen.
But for the majority of spa-goers, evergreen treatments can provide a welcome escape, especially during the winter months, as the scent reminds some of the changing seasons and the holidays. Using an evergreen candle for aromatherapy during a facial or using evergreen extract in a massage can help ease the stress of holiday shopping, traveling, and partying.
The aromatic—and symbolic—associations can be carried into the New Year, too, as spa guests resolve to get healthier, take better care of themselves, and start fresh. “There is no better way to prepare for the New Year than to revive the skin and soul with an evergreen treatment,” says Morris. “Marketing these treatments to clients who have an upcoming special event while presenting evergreens’ skin-renewing benefits would be a great year-round promotion. Weddings, anniversaries, and birthdays can all bring stress to clients, or they may inspire clients to renew or reinvent themselves. With an evergreen treatment, clients will feel confident to make their special event one they will never forget.”