Love is in the Air
For such a small, unassuming, and simple blossom, the jasmine flower has certainly been imbued with some serious symbolism. In India, jasmine is used in rituals like marriage, Puja (prayer), and holy festivals. In Indonesia, it’s revered as a sign of love and sensuality. In Thailand, jasmine flowers symbolize motherhood, and in China, jasmine was used as a flower of peace during pro-democracy protests. Jasmine is also seen as a state and national symbol in Hawaii, Indonesia, Pakistan, and the Philippines.
So why all the fuss about this tiny white flower? Much of the plant’s power probably lies in its scent. The blossoms open only in the evening—as the temperature in its native Mediterranean and Asian climates begins to drop—and produce a distinct aroma that’s appreciated by both women and men around the world. “I believe jasmine to be one of the most glorious, rich, complex, and satisfying essential oils to work with,” says Yael Alkalay, founder of Red Flower. “Its scent is mesmerizing, intoxicating, and transporting—it truly rocks my world.”
Jasmine essential oil is quite expensive because manufacturers must use a large number of flowers to obtain a small amount of oil. Plus, it is best when produced from flowers harvested at night. This is why pure jasmine essential oil or even absolute is not available in many mass-market products. In order to get the real thing, Tara Grodjesk, president and founder of Tara Spa Therapy, encourages consumers and spa decision makers to ask product manufacturers about the source of their jasmine and how it has been extracted.
As for the flower’s aromatherapeutic properties, jasmine is loaded with esters, the most relaxing type of chemicals found in essential oils. In traditional aromatherapy, jasmine is used to alleviate headaches, balance hormones, ease labor pains, stop stress and tension, and calm muscle spasms. “Jasmine is an excellent essential oil to boost an overall feeling of well-being and optimism,” says Lisa Polley, director of education and business development at Jurlique. “We use jasmine because it is a sweet, exotic, and relaxing extract that is ideal when incorporated into body products.”
There are few better places to unleash the sedating and stress-reducing properties of jasmine than in the spa. “Our guests are most pleased with the calming effect of jasmine and find it a unique scent that isn’t found in many spa services,” says Sandy Trevino, spa director at Jurlique Spa at FireSky Resort & Spa (Scottsdale, AZ). Her spa uses several of Jurlique’s jasmine-laced products, including a scrub and body lotion, in services such as the Sole Mate Pedicure ($75, 60 minutes). Using products with the aroma of jasmine is just another way to keep your clients in spa mode and help them erase any excess stress they may be carrying.
Jasmine essential oil also contains chemical constituents, such as indole, jasmon, and linalool, which are believed to confer aphrodisiac abilities. This explains why the flower and its heady, floral scent are so often seen as symbols of love and marriage in Asian cultures. “I think jasmine is a very sexy and sensual fragrance that helps each and every woman experience her own beauty,” says Kathy Nelson, spa director at Kabuki Springs & Spa (San Francisco). At Kabuki Springs, guests can indulge in the re-creation of a traditional Indonesian marriage ceremony with the Javanese Lulur Ritual ($160, 2 hours), which includes a Balinese massage and full-body lulur scrub with frangipani, jasmine, rice, and turmeric. In Java, an Indonesian island, the lulur ritual is a royal custom dating back to the 17th century. Brides go through the skin-softening treatment every day for 40 days prior to the wedding ceremony.
Jasmine oil is also the perfect addition to beauty treatments aimed at improving the skin, as the plant oil provides hydration without clogging pores or causing breakouts. Plus, its esters help inhibit the growth of bacteria and help regulate sebum production. It can even calm sensitive, easily irritated complexions. “Traditional Chinese medicine uses jasmine to ‘drain fire,’ which clears heat and relieves irritability,” says Suzanne Lombardo, wellness manager at Five Phase Wellness Center (Evanston, IL). The center’s Five Phase Signature Facial ($120, 80 minutes) uses jasmine-infused products from JAMU Organic Spa Rituals. “In beauty, aside from increasing romantic allure, jasmine enhances smooth, firm skin by promoting skin repair in strengthening collagen and elastin,” says Lombardo. The oil also helps increase elasticity in the skin, which is the main reason it’s found in Ilike Organic Skin Care’s Organic Firming Grapeseed Body Oil, according to Szilvia Hickman, senior vice president of Szepelet, distributor of Ilike Organic Skin Care. “Jasmine oil also helps in the reduction of wrinkles and fine lines,” she says.
Yet another way to bring jasmine’s benefits into your spa is by offering guests a warm mug of jasmine tea. The naturally sweet-flavored beverage that’s known to lower blood pressure and promote a sense of calm is very popular in China, where jasmine flowers are often blended with either a green tea or oolong base. A cup of jasmine tea before or after a massage or during a pedicure is a tasty way to introduce your clients to the healing properties and alluring aroma of this ingredient.
Looking for ways to promote the powers of jasmine to spa-goers who may be unfamiliar with the flower? Try marketing sweet-scented services to brides-to-be or honeymooners. Whether you create a full lulur ritual or a simple massage with jasmine-infused products, brides are sure to fall in love with the aphrodisiac benefits of the blooms. You can also use jasmine products in couples’ treatments or those offered on Valentine’s Day to bring out the sensual side of guests. And before you send your guests home, try gifting them with a small bag of dried jasmine flowers. These “charm” bags are used in other cultures to attract love and wealth. Tie on a card from your spa as a reminder of the service, and your lucky clients are sure to keep feeling the love long after they leave the treatment room.