In a Nutshell

Although there is some ambiguity  about what constitutes a nut in the true botanical sense, most people think of it as a fruit with a hard shell and edible seed. Hailed for their nourishing benefits, nuts are considered excellent sources of protein and heart-healthy fats. Unfortunately, they’re also high in calories when consumed in excess. Spa-goers needn’t worry about their caloric intake, however, when incorporating nuts into their skincare regimens. “Nuts are one of nature’s amazingly versatile and highly beneficial skincare ingredients,” says Janae Muzzy, vice president of research and development for Epicuren Discovery. “Finely ground, they can be used as effective exfoliants to refine and smooth the surface of the skin. Cold-pressed into oil, they provide powerful antioxidants and minerals, while their fatty acids deliver rich moisture deep into the skin.” According to her, sweet almonds, kukui nuts, macadamia nuts, and walnuts are some Epicuren faves. And the skincare company is certainly not the only one embracing nuts’ numerous benefits. Both spas and manufacturers are tapping into the powerful punch these nuggets provide. “Nuts are an excellent choice for polishing and exfoliating the skin, as well as nourishing and moisturizing it with the delicate oils they produce,” says Jeff Brown, training manager at Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics. “When ground and used as an exfoliant, they are a natural and sustainable alternative to plastic microbeads.” Their oils are also proving to be a valuable commodity in the skincare world. “Nut oils are fine in texture and easily welcomed into the skin, making them effective and gentle moisturizers and ideal carrier oils to draw the effects of essential oils into the skin,” says Brown. “Used throughout history, nuts remain valuable natural ingredients in cosmetics today.”


Almond Joy

At Lush, almonds are the nuts of choice. According to Brown, the nut, oil, and shell are all used throughout the skincare range. “Almonds are packed with essential fatty acids and antioxidants, including vitamin E, renowned for its ability to maintain the supple, pliant look and feel of the skin, making it one of the finest oils to use in cosmetics,” says Brown. Ground almond shells can also be found in many of the Fresh Face Masks, which are ideally used once or twice a week for a more intense scrub. The ground nut is found in Lush’s Fresh Cleansers, which are intended for daily use.

Spa-goers at Lush Spa (New York City and Philadelphia) can reap the benefits of almonds in Validation ($140, 60 minutes), a noninvasive customized facial. It features products such as the Angels on Bare Skin Face and Body Cleanser, which incorporates finely ground almonds and lavender flowers; the Brazened Honey Face Mask, which relies on fresh free-range eggs, honey, and ground almonds to soften and exfoliate skin; and the Love Lettuce Fresh Face Mask, which uses ground almonds to remove dirt, oil, and debris.  

The Rosemary Almond Body Polish ($135, 50 minutes) at the Spa at The Broadmoor (Colorado Springs, CO) helps guests slough away rough, dry skin with Epicuren Discovery’s Rosemary Sea Salt and Almond Butter. “Almond oil is moisturizing, lubricating, and hydrating,” says spa director Cassie Hernandez. “It is ideal for deep hydration following a salt scrub.”

In the Apothecary Facial (starting at $85, 60 minutes; $130, 90 minutes) at Selah Day Spa (Mishawaka, IN), the skin is treated to Éminence Organic Skin Care’s Almond & Mineral Treatment, which relies on finely crushed almonds to gently exfoliate the skin. “Like a great recipe, nuts in skincare enhance vegetable-based antioxidants, as well as fruit-derived acids,” says Boldijarre Koronczay, president of Éminence Organic Skin Care.


Kukui Kraze

Better known for their hydrating benefits than their exfoliating power, kukui nuts have long been used by those in Polynesian cultures to moisturize and protect the skin from the elements. Rich in omega 3, they are full of antioxidants and have the added advantage of easily penetrating the skin without leaving it feeling greasy. Not only nourishing to the skin, they also improve the condition of the hair and scalp. Fortunately, spa-goers needn’t travel to Hawaii or Fiji to reap the benefits. At Classique Queen Anne Spa (Seattle), they can opt for the Kukui-nut Coconut Aromatherapy Scalp Treatment ($30, 15 minutes), which incorporates not only the tropical nut but also sweet almonds and macadamia nuts. Relying on Epicuren Discovery’s Kukui Nut Coconut Massage & Body Oil, the aromatic scalp massage can be added on to any facial or massage.

Kukui nut oil is also used as a base ingredient for Pure Fiji products. “It’s a proven barrier oil that is readily absorbed into the skin,” says cofounder Andree Austin. “It is particularly good for dry skin and those suffering from psoriasis and eczema, as it has healing properties.” At The Catamaran Spa at Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa (San Diego), spa-goers can experience the Milk & Honey Sugar Scrub ($120, 50 minutes), which restores a healthy glow with the exotic nut, coconut milk, and Fijian dark honey.


Macadamia Miracles

Another nut growing in popularity is the macadamia nut. In fact, it is the basis for more than one product line. Jindilli, for example, is a family-owned macadamia company based in Australia, home to the native Australian rainforest tree that produces the nut. It takes its name, Jindilli, from one of the names given to macadamia nuts by Indigenous Australians. According to chief brand officer Cherie Jackson, the efficacy of macadamia oil on skin was discovered by accident when local therapists began using the oil for massage. They were impressed by its great glide and the fact that it left the skin clean and silky. “The fatty acids in macadamia nuts are one of the closest botanical sources to those found in skin,” says Jackson. “Because of this, the skin recognizes them and uses them to replenish what our bodies stop making as we age.” Sourcing the oil from its own farms, Jindilli features a range of macadamia-based skin- and bodycare products.

Fans of the line can also opt for one of the 12 protocols found on the company’s Rites of Renewal spa menu. The treatments, which range in length between 25 and 90 minutes, are available at a variety of spas. For instance, the Spa at Flamingo Las Vegas recently introduced the Wildflower Clay Wrap and BoomaGlam Massage ($235, 80 minutes), which features the macadamia oil-based Wildflower Clay and Lime Blossom Scrub.

The nuts also take center stage in Macadamia Professional products, where they prove to be as nourishing to the hair as they are to the skin. “Macadamia oil contains the highest amount of omega 7 than any other nut oil,” says Karrie Fonte, area vice president of global education. “Omega 7 most closely resembles human hair sebum and thus mimics the scalp’s natural oil production to provide nourishment. Omega 7 is also exceptionally lightweight and non-greasy with no buildup, which makes it ideal for all global textures.” For the ultimate in hydrating and repairing moisture-deprived hair, spa-goers can turn to the Macadamia Hair Rejuvenation Treatment (starting at $10, varies) at most Macadamia Professional spas and salons.


Pressing Matters

Because the use of nut oils is especially popular, it’s important to consider how the oil is extracted. “The extraction process of nut oils definitely impacts their quality,” says Muzzy. “Like many natural ingredients, heat can destroy the integrity of the fats, minerals, and vitamins. Cold-pressing is the purest, most ideal extraction technique to keep the nutrients intact at their maximum potency.” According to Fonte, the fact that cold-pressed oils experience a controlled temperature setting in the batching process of raw materials helps the oil maintain its nutritional value. “Cold-pressing is mainly used in high-end oils used in cooking when subtle differences in flavor may make a difference in the perceived quality of the product,” she says. “Most beauty companies like Macadamia Professional use expeller-pressed oils in which no heat or chemicals are added to the extraction process. The structure and efficacy of our macadamia and argan oils are maintained  just as well as in any other extraction process.”


Allergy Concerns

If there is a downside to introducing nut-based products or treatments to your spa, it’s only that tree nuts are one of the top eight foods that account for 90 percent of all allergic reactions, according to Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE). As a result, you’ll want to make sure to ask about any nut allergies beforehand. “Consumers with a peanut or tree nut allergy will always want to be cautious when using a product or experiencing a treatment with nuts, as an allergic reaction could occur,” says Fonte. And it’s not just clients about whom you need to be concerned. “If the esthetician or client has a nut sensitivity, always patch test first or check with a medical doctor,” says Koronczay. Fortunately, severe reactions are rare, and some nuts pose less of a risk. “Jindilli filters the protein components out of the oil, minimizing the risk of allergic reactions,” says Jackson. “Of all the tree nuts, macadamias account for less than five percent of allergic reactions. We can actually claim our oil to be hypoallergenic, but we advise spas to let their clients know that they are using macadamia nuts.” Erring on the side of caution, you and your staff should always keep the lines of communication open with clients to ensure a safe and effective treatment.

While nuts, in their many varieties, have certainly proved their worth in the skincare arena, you can also introduce them to your spa in other ways, such as offering them as a healthy and energy-boosting snack in your spa’s relaxation lounge. No matter how you incorporate them into your spa and menu, you and your clients are sure to go nuts over them.

Aside from filling a hunger gap with fiber and protein, nuts also promote healthy skin. Help clients discover their skin-enriching properties with  these nut-based products.—Jessica Morrobel

1. Andrea Face Spa Moisture Intense Masque: This cream-based mask combines sweet almond  oil and vitamin E to reduce free-radical damage, boost collagen production, and soften the skin.

2. Bon Vital’ Sweet Almond Oil: Featuring  100 percent sweet almond oil, this cold-pressed mid-weight massage oil is ideal for all types of modalities that require longer strokes. It’s also gentle enough for infant massage.

3. Cinq Mondes Tropical Nut Melting Balm: Beeswax, coconut, and kemiri and tamanu nut  oils nourish and hydrate the skin for a radiant appearance.

4. [ comfort zone ] Cleansing Milk: Shea butter, sweet almond oil, and vegetable squalene gently remove makeup and residue while beta-glucan stimulates the skin’s defense mechanisms.

5. Éminence Organic Skin Care Chocolate Truffle Body Wrap: Cocoa, ginseng, and almond and macadamia nut oils revitalize the skin while  reducing inflammation for a younger-looking appearance.

6. FarmHouse Fresh Sweet Cream Body Milk: Infused with avocado, jojoba seed, and sesame  and sweet almond oils, this lightweight  moisturizer offers relief for itchy and inflamed  skin.

7. Guinot Paris Hydra Cellulaire Serum: Macadamia oil helps alleviate flakiness and itchy skin associated with dehydration and improves the skin’s moisture level.

8. Jindilli Pure Macadamia Oil: This multipurpose oil cleanses, moisturizes, and soothes inflamed  skin with macadamia oil. It can also serve as a  hair oil to tame flyways.

9. Nature Pure Labs Tangerine Creamy Sugar Scrub: Hippophae, an antioxidant that promotes cell tissue regeneration; orange blossom; macadamia oil; neroli; and ylang ylang remove impurities while sugar granules gently exfoliate to reveal smooth skin.

10. PurErb Vitality Deep Cleansing Oil: This aromatic oil cleanser eliminates impurities with argan, baobab, jojoba, kukui, and sacha inchi nut oils.

11. Pure Fiji Coconut Nourishing Exotic Oil:  Based on a botanical blend of dilo and macadamia nut oils and sikeci, a form of kukui nut oil, this body oil heals and hydrates the skin.

12. Repêchage Honey and Almond Scrub:  Honey, pure almond meal, and sweet almond oil exfoliate to reveal a healthy, glowing complexion.