A New Leaf

BambooWhen it comes to eco-friendly elements, bamboo is perhaps one of the world’s most touted plants. It can sprout up to three feet in a day and is the fastest growing woody plant on the planet. It is also incredibly resilient and can thrive just about anywhere—species of bamboo have been found in Africa, Asia, Australia, and North and South America. It has already garnered acclaim in environmentally friendly building and furniture and as an ingredient in clothing and linens, but it is just starting to come into its own in the treatment room. There, it turns out that bamboo is equally impactful. Bamboo particles are excellent exfoliators, and bamboo sap and extracts are über-hydrating. The plant itself is an effective tool in massage. Plus, green-minded spa-goers will be enticed by its eco-friendly origins. “Bamboo is a great ingredient for spas to use because it is sustainable, potent, and offers a great range of benefits,” says Yael Alkalay, founder of Red Flower.

Exfoliation & Natural Nourishment
When bamboo is finely ground and incorporated into scrubs, it provides a powerful exfoliation but is easier on the skin than harsher ingredients like salt, making it ideal for sensitive skin. Red Flower’s Ohana Gingergrass Bamboo Scrub contains crushed bamboo and is used in spa treatments and rituals at spas around the world, including The Standard Spa (Miami Beach, FL), which offers The Standard Scrub ($75, 30 minutes), and Canyon Ranch (Lenox, MA), which offers The Revitalizing Ritual ($200, 80 minutes), a session that includes a purifying sea algae soak, a scrub, a wrap, and a massage. “Bamboo has gentle exfoliating powers that polish away impurities while soothing and toning the skin,” says Alkalay. “In its most natural state, it delivers raw energy and invigorating purification.”

For these reasons and more, bamboo is particularly ideal for men’s treatments. Yon-Ka Paris for Men’s Foam Scrub depends on bamboo to help revive tired-looking skin and to eliminate ingrown hairs and blackheads. KENMEN-BC/ONE INC also uses bamboo powder in a variety of its men’s products. “KENMEN first adopted bamboo powder for our men’s corrective makeup brand, Skin Colour, to absorb excess oil on the surface of the skin,” says Lee Gilbert, company founder and president, who adds that it is now used in most of the company’s products. “It is an ideal ingredient for men, and it is very effective in fighting sebaceous outbreaks.”

Beyond its ability to smooth the skin, bamboo sap is incredibly hydrating and works to aid in cell regeneration, which is why Amorepacific uses it as a replacement for water in all of its products. According to training manager Steven Snook, benefits of bamboo sap include instant and long-term hydration and increased skin defense against environmental stresses.

Spa Anjali at The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa (Avon, CO) is sharing the benefits of bamboo with its clients courtesy of the new Piaco Market Facial ($220, 75 minutes; $280, 1 hour 40 minutes), which uses Éminence Organic Skin Care’s Guava & Bamboo Age-Defying Moisturizer. “Being one of the strongest, yet most flexible, plants on earth, it presents the same benefits to the skin by lifting and tightening the tissues,” says spa general manager Suzy Johlfs. “It is rich in fiber; it contains benzoic acid, which is a great anti-fungal; and it has vitamin C, which helps to build collagen and assists in preventing breakouts. It’s also rich in antioxidants, amino acids, minerals, and chlorophyll.” Whether bamboo is being used as an exfoliator, a hydrator, or an all-around skin-saver, it works best with invigorating ingredients, according to both Alkalay and Snook. Amorepacific pairs it with green tea and Korean red ginseng, while Red Flower blends it with ingredients like fir, ginger, and lime. “We stay away from anything cloying and heavy with our bamboo products, because we want people to experience the raw sensation and energy of bamboo,” says Alkalay.

Made for Massage
Because bamboo is such a versatile plant, it’s not surprising it does more than save the skin. It is also an excellent tool for enhancing massage. One of the most popular services at The Peninsula Spa, Shanghai (China) is the Bamboo Harmoniser ($190, 1 hour 50 minutes). The service includes a foot cleansing ritual, a light body brushing and exfoliation, and a massage with bamboo sticks using gliding, rolling techniques and long deep strokes to target tense muscles and provide therapeutic relief to sore and stressed joints. “We wanted to have something that was culturally significant and had an indigenous reference not only to China but also to Shanghai and the region,” says spa director Richard Williams. “Bamboo forests are found on the outskirts of Shanghai, and bamboo is almost a staple ingredient in the local diet.” In addition, guests are attracted to the symbolic nature of bamboo. “Bamboo also symbolizes long life and longevity, good luck, and strength, and it also has a unique energy,” he says. “It is used to stimulate the flow of chi energy within the body.”

Another popular bamboo-enhanced technique is Bamboo-fusion, which was created by Nathalie Cecilia in 2003 after she recognized the durability of bamboo balance poles she used to support herself when performing Thai massage. After testing smaller bamboo sticks out on a client during a massage, she soon developed a comprehensive line of tools, as well as created a massage technique that she dubbed Bamboo-fusion. Today, the technique and tools are used at spas around the country, including Spa Oceana at Don CeSar Beach Resort, A Loews Hotel (St. Pete Beach, FL), which offers Bamboo Massage ($150, 60 minutes; $220, 90 minutes), and Idun Spa & Salon at the Radisson Plaza Hotel Kalamazoo Center (MI), which offers Bamboo Fusion ($85, 60 minutes; $130, 90 minutes).


Cecilia says that bamboo is an ideal massage tool because of its natural healing properties and because the tools cover more area and provide more even pressure than the hands alone. Meanwhile, the strokes of the massage protocols she created can also be delivered with minimal effort, which is helpful for busy therapists. “Bamboo massage has many benefits and helps to melt away stress, tension, and pain associated with muscle tightness,” she says. “It is very easy to stretch the fascia in different directions with our unique crisscross stroke, which will help alleviate restrictions in the tissue. Therapists can also perform kneading and rolling strokes to effectively penetrate the muscle, offering relief from tight muscles and tendons. Working lightly using our rolling strokes can also promote lymphatic drainage.”

Marketing Tips
There are a number of ways to market your bamboo treatments and products. First, bamboo itself is inexpensive and attractive, so use it as a design element and add promotional signage to encourage guest inquiries. As Cecilia suggests, “A picture is worth a thousand words when it comes to describing bamboo treatments, so displaying a picture of a bamboo massage at the reception area is a great way for clients to view and inquire about the treatment.” Additionally, a small bamboo plant paired with a sample of the products used in a treatment also makes for an excellent gift with purchase and will help your spa stand out from the competition.

Another idea is to be comprehensive with your spa’s bamboo options, including bamboo paper for menus and promotional materials, bamboo robes and linens, and even massage tables and chairs made of bamboo. Offering these types of products and equipment and promoting your eco approach are wonderful marketing tactics that can establish your spa as a true green resource, something that is compelling to more and more clients.
If you haven’t considered adding bamboo to your spa menu, it is most certainly time to plant the seed. Says Alkalay, “Consumers are attracted to bamboo treatments because they are appealing, sustainable, and the results are good—a bamboo-enhanced service can be a life-enhancing experience.”

Bamboo Bonanza
Present your clients with a sampling of pampering products that take advantage of bamboo’s powerful properties.
Amorepacific Treatment Cleansing Foam: This cleanser, which is formulated with bamboo sap, botanical hydrators, and ginseng root, purifies the skin, reinforces its natural barrier, and removes makeup. (877) 55-AMORE; www.amorepacific.com
Bamboo-fusion Cold/Chair Bamboo Massage Stick Set: Distributed by Universal Companies, this set of bamboo sticks, designed to be used at room temperature or chilled, allows pressure to be applied more evenly and for a longer length of time during massage. (800) 558-5571; www.universalcompanies.com
Darphin Nourishing Smoothing Body Scrub: Containing bamboo particles, essential oils, exfoliating ingredients, and silica powder, this scrub transforms into a nourishing milk, which leaves skin soft and supple. (866) 880-4559; www.darphin.com
Éminence Organic Skin Care Guava & Bamboo Age-Defying Moisturizer: Bamboo and guava come together in a hydrating moisturizer that strengthens skin and improves elasticity. (888) 747-6342; www.eminenceorganics.com
Intrinsics Gentle Cleansing Towel: Bamboo and white tea are infused into this cotton towel that gently exfoliates and cleanses the skin before facial services or to prep skin for waxing treatments. (800) 277-0377; www.intrinsics.net
KENMEN-BC/ONE INC Bamboozled MRS—Spa “101” Teen Series: This cleansing bar for the hair and skin awakens the senses with notes of bamboo charcoal, lavender, honey, and sweet orange. (866) KEN-6969; www.kenmen.com
Lotus Touch Organic Naturals Bamboo Silk Massage Lotion: Combining aloe vera juice, bamboo silk powder, and green tea extracts, this anti-aging lotion is ideal for both facial and bodycare treatments. (800) 852-3082; www.lotustouch.com
Naturopathica Lemongrass Mimosa Body Scrub: This scrub contains apple, bamboo, citrus, and sugarcane for exfoliation, while the lemongrass, jasmine, mimosa florals, and ylang ylang energize the skin. (800) 669-7618; www.naturopathica.com
Organic Male Citrus Bamboo Resurfacing Scrub: This exfoliating scrub removes dry skin, refines fine lines, clears pores, and helps prevent ingrown hairs. (877) 898-MALE; www.om4men.com
Prima Fleur’s Bamboo Lemongrass Foaming Body Scrub: This hydrating body wash contains bamboo, essential oils, and sea algae to exfoliate dull skin and give a youthful, vibrant appearance. (415) 455-0957; www.primafleur.com
Red Flower Japan Ohana Gingergrass Bamboo Scrub: Containing ginger oil, lime, and bamboo grains, this gentle scrub stimulates circulation, increases blood flow, and removes dry skin. (212) 966-5301; www.redflower.com
Skin Authority Purifying Energy Stimulation Scrub: Containing fine grains of bamboo infused with apricot oil, avocado, chamomile extract, and essential oils, this gentle scrub removes dry skin and hydrates. (866) 325-SKIN; www.skinauthority.com
Sothys Paris Lip Duo: This duo contains Bamboo Lip Scrub and Lip Comfort Care. The lip scrub features natural bamboo particles, plum oil, and vitamin E. Lip Comfort Care contains ingredients that help repair lips while preventing dehydration and flaking. (800) 325-0503; www.sothys.com
Yon-Ka For Men Foam Scrub: Polish, deep clean, and oxygenate skin with this exfoliating gel containing bamboo silica and jojoba beads. (800) 533-6276; www.yonkaformen.comAmy Graham