When it comes to wellness, melons are more than just a sweet summer treat. While they have been a dietary staple in cultures around the globe for centuries, melons are finding a place today on spa menus worldwide, thanks to benefits ranging from preventing and treating cancer to aiding weight loss to skincare perks, such as exfoliating, hydrating, and healing skin in topical applications. As members of the gourd family, the musky-scented fruit, including bitter melon, cantaloupe, casaba, honeydew, Kalahari melon, watermelon, and more, grows on a long trailing vine in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and flavors, and each offers its own unique benefits. All, however, are full of vitamins and nutrients vital for overall wellness. “Melons provide healthy amounts of virtually all essential vitamins and minerals,” says Jodi Brown, spa director at Kelly’s Spa at The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa (Riverside, CA). “One of the main health benefits is the antioxidants found in vitamins A and C that help to neutralize free radicals, which can lead to inflammation. Melons calm, tone, and regenerate the skin.” Yet, despite their long history and longer list of wellness advantages, melons have been slower to enter the spa market than other produce. Take this opportunity to stand out by incorporating them into your spa’s treatment menu.
Found in select scrubs, lotions, toners, and massage oils, melons are just beginning to take their rightful place on spa menus. “A variety of melon extracts and melon seed oils are used in skincare for their antioxidants, lipids, vitamins, and mineral content,” says Diana Howard, Ph.D., vice president of research and development and global education for Dermalogica and The International Dermal Institute. “Many of the antioxidants are pigments that give the melons their bright colors.” These antioxidants provide protection for the plants and, in turn, offer humans a shield against free-radical damage to skin. “Some phytochemicals are found only in the rind, others in the pulpy portion of the melon, and still others in the seeds,” she says. “Scientists can extract water-soluble phytochemicals from the rind and fruit flesh and oil-soluble actives from the seeds.” But you don’t need to be a scientist to access these benefits. “The best practice of extracting the ingredients is essentially scooping the fruit, mashing it, and applying it directly to the skin,” says Shannon Gallogly, Decléor Paris national education and training manager.
Similar to other acidic fruits, melon, specifically cantaloupe, is ideal for exfoliating treatments. “Cantaloupe has been used as a naturally acidic ingredient that dissolves dead skin cells to improve the look of a dull complexion,” says Marla Malcolm Beck, cofounder and CEO of Bluemercury (multiple locations).
Melons also excel in moisturizing services thanks to an especially high water content. They are composed of approximately 90 percent water. “The high concentration of water in melons, combined with vitamin C and antioxidant properties, make melons an effective skincare ingredient and very beneficial in a spa setting,” says Karen Smegal, spa director at Spa at The Essex (VT). “The use of melons help prevent free-radical damage, which minimizes the appearance of wrinkles and increases the amount of water that cells can hold, leading to a healthier and younger looking appearance.” Spa-goers can indulge in the moisturizing benefits of watermelon in the summer with the Watermelon Vodkatini Body Scrub ($120, 50 minutes), which includes FarmHouse Fresh’s watermelon-infused exfoliant for a personalized all-over revitalizing experience. Not only do melons deliver moisture to the skin but they also help seal it in. “Kalahari melons are used for their high content of essential fatty acids that aid in barrier properties of the skin, and therefore, skin moisturizing,” says Howard.
As such, melon-based body treatments are especially appealing in spas located in the desert and near the beach where guests look for relief from the heat. “If you are in areas that are very dry and dehydrating, then you want to use products and treatments that bring repairing and hydrating effects to compromised skin,” says Gallogly. “Products rich in melon extract are a great place to start. Melon is especially beneficial in treatments after sun exposure, where the body can become very dry, itchy, and sometimes uncomfortable.” At Arizona Grand Spa at Arizona Grand Resort & Spa (Phoenix), for example, the Cooling Cucumber Melon Scrub ($150, 50 minutes) both exfoliates and soothes using Bubalina organic products containing honeydew, which leave the skin soft and hydrated. Even more severe concerns, such as burns, can benefit from melon. “Melon pulp has been used for many years to treat severe skin burns due to its wonderful hydrating properties,” says Arturo Aguilar, spa manager of Reméde Spa at the St. Regis Punta Mita Resort (Mexico).
Products containing certain varieties, such as watermelon, have a healing and soothing effect on the skin in facials, as well. “Citrulline, along with natural sugars found in watermelon, is essential to our skin’s natural hydration system,” says Howard. “Studies have shown an increase in skin hydration and reduction in flakiness with application of watermelon rind extract to dehydrated skin.” The moisturizing benefits provide relief from more serious conditions, as well. “Melons are primarily used to treat skin concerns, such as aging, inflammation, dermatitis, and eczema, in particular,” says Brown. At Kelly’s Spa, the Primrose and Melon Balancing Facial ($125, 50 minutes) is ideal for reviving dry skin after sun exposure, alleviating inflammation and dullness and reducing the signs of aging. Afterward, clients’ toned, enriched complexions appear healthier and more youthful.
Melons are equally revitalizing in a drink, and many spas add a chilled melon beverage to treatments to pamper clients inside and out. “Melons are refreshing, hydrating, regenerating, and overall aromatically pleasant,” says Brown. They’re also nutritious. Melons are a great source of potassium, magnesium, and manganese, as well as vitamins A and C, which help boost the immune system. “If clients aren’t drinking enough water, their skin won’t look good,” says Heather Hausenblas, Ph.D., a physical activity and healthy aging expert. “When it is dehydrated, skin has a sunken-in look and is not as plump. Eating melons containing water or drinks made with melons is a good way to help rehydrate.” Clients who book the Watermelon Vodkatini Splash ($90, 65 minutes) at Kelly’s Spa can sip on Kelly’s Summertime Cocktail, a non-alcoholic watermelon lemonade, to refresh and rehydrate while hands and feet enjoy a fruity bath followed by a melon-infused sugar scrub and polish application.
Included in dietary supplements, melon extracts have additional wellness benefits. French melon, like that found in ResVitale’s SOD concentrate, has been the subject of ongoing research. “French melon is a rich natural source of superoxide dismutase (SOD),” says Hausenblas. “This antioxidant is more powerful than others, and it activates the body’s production of additional antioxidants naturally.” Clinical research has found that taking this supplement helps reduce stress and improves sleep quality.
Other supplements derived from melon also target stress. In a double-blind, randomized trial published in Nutrition Journal, consumption of a melon juice concentrate rich in SOD enzymes helps improve a person’s ability to resist burnout. The SOD enzymes help reduce oxidative stress in the body, which is linked to psychological stress. Researchers observed a significant improvement in several signs of perceived stress and fatigue. Pair a melon-spiked elixir with a relaxing treatment, and spa-goers will be singing your praises. When offered in the spa, this summer treat is sure to make a big splash with clients thanks to restorative and healing benefits for their skin.