For years now, we've been told of the potent antioxidant punch that many fruits provide. The richer and deeper a fruit or vegetable's color, the more powerful its free radical-fighting abilities seem to be. This explains why the blueberry has been sitting atop the list of super fruits for some time now. Research has shown that this bite-sized dark berry may have the power to reduce the risk of stroke, lower cholesterol, and prevent heart disease. Plus, the fruit contains phytochemicals—at higher levels than red wine and green tea—that have the power to stave off some diseases, as well as protect cells from free radical damage that causes aging. And just one cup of blueberries offers 31 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C and 16 percent of daily dietary fiber. While most studies have looked at the blueberry's benefits when ingested, as we've seen time and time again, what works on the inside is usually effective when applied to the outside.
"Blueberries are one of the most potent antioxidants known to nature, a major benefit to spa guests who are trying to delay cellular aging and minimize free radical damage," says Barbara Stirewalt, spa director at The Spa at Mohonk Mountain House (New Paltz, NY). The spa offers a Seasonal Bounty Facial that changes depending on the time of year. This summer's special is the Blueberry Bliss Facial ($105, 50 minutes), which includes a blueberry and soy mask application followed by the smoothing on of a blueberry-soy cream. "I think guests really enjoy the benefits of hydration, soothing, and the antioxidants that this facial provides," says Stirewalt, pointing out that blueberries offer hydration as well as free radical protection. The berries have a high fatty acid content that delivers moisture to the complexion, making the fruit a good addition to hydrating services.
Blueberries, because they're so nourishing, are also excellent when used in detoxifying treatments. As things like seaweed wraps and steam draw out impurities, the berry adds essential nutrients back into the body through the skin. At The Cliff House Resort & Spa (Ogunquit, ME), the Blueberry Body Wrap ($110, 50 minutes) includes a dry body brushing followed by an algae wrap that has been infused with organic blueberries. "We use blueberries that are grown right on our property and in the surrounding areas," says spa director Mary Weisheit. Maine produces 25 percent of all the blueberries in North America, making it the world's largest producer of the fruit. "There are definitely people who come in wanting a detoxifying treatments, so they choose this algae wrap, but it's nice that ours still has that sense of Maine from the blueberries. Our guests love that," adds Weisheit.
For skin that's in need of cellular repair, blueberries can provide a healing boost. Clinical studies have shown that the fruit has the ability to speed up the skin's repair process, which is why some estheticians apply a blueberry product post-peel. The Blissfully Beautiful Facial ($130, 50 minutes) at the Relâche Spa at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center (Nashville, TN) involves an AHA fruit pulp exfoliation followed by an application of a blueberry and soy mask. "This treatment is perfect for revitalizing dull skin, restoring elasticity, and nourishing depleted skin cells," says spa director Yolanda Harris.
Summer is definitely the season of the blueberry, as the fruit is fresh this time of year. Just the thought of blueberries can invoke an inviting, summer-y feel, which is why using it to entice guests to come in for a treatment during the winter months can work to your advantage. Adding it to your menu as a seasonal option in the winter lures guests in for a taste of summer. This past January, The Spa at Santaluz (San Diego) offered the Blueberry Pedicure ($50, 50 minutes), which included a blueberry foot soak, a brightening blueberry scrub, and a massage with blueberry lotion. "It really just sounded so delicious, and the scent really filled the room, which was just lovely," says spa director Molly Mason. Blueberries are great in manicures and pedicures, two treatments in which guests get the benefits of seeing and interacting with blueberries. "It was a great treatment for members who regularly get pedicures from us and wanted to try something different." And the blueberry is definitely different, as it's not a typical ingredient spa-goers see on treatment menus.
But offering blueberry treatments during the summer makes perfect sense. "Blueberries are a delight for the senses, and they define the summer season at Mohonk Mountain House," says Stirewalt. "As we market our summer Blueberry Bliss treatments, we're also selling the images of the season at Mohonk Mountain House. Our long, lazy, lingering days, the sweet-smelling air, vibrant colors of nature at her peak, and the seductive sweetness of blue- berries are all captured by these treatments." And that's a delicious description that is sure to tempt any spa-goer.