The Pleasures of Peppermint

During the holidays, the word "peppermint" evokes images of candy canes and Christmas stockings. Though the tasty treat is a staple of the season, it is also a valuable ingredient when it comes to skincare and health. A cross between watermint and spearmint, peppermint is a fragrant herb that has been cultivated for years for its medicinal properties. Peppermint oil helps to treat indigestion, respiratory problems, headaches, nausea, fevers, and more. It also has antiseptic properties and is a common ingredient in toothpaste, shampoo, and gum. For these reasons and more, products and treatments that incorporate peppermint are a sweet treat for spa-goers, particularly during the holidays. "Peppermint-themed services around the holidays often generate a nostalgic feeling and bring back memories of special moments," says Debra Catania, vice president for Catania Hospitality Group, which includes several spas throughout Massachusetts that are promoting peppermint this season.

Along with its ability to evoke feelings of hearth and home, peppermint makes a lot of sense on a holiday spa menu due to its invigorating and healing qualities, which will be readily embraced by clients who are run down from shopping, planning, partying, and more. According to Szilvia Hickman, senior vice president of Ilike Organic Skin Care, "Peppermint is aromatic and refreshing, which guarantees that tired, stressed-out clients will leave your spa feeling wonderfully revived post-treatment."

 Revive Spa at JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa is getting guests into the spirit of the season with the Peppermint Pedi.
Revive Spa at JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa is getting guests into the spirit of the season with the Peppermint Pedi.


"We specifically chose peppermint for this holiday season because of its direct benefits for the reduction of stress," adds Patti Dail, spa and salon director at Stillwater Spa & Salon at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa & Marina (Cambridge, MD), which is offering the Pampering Peppermint Body Ritual ($200, 90 minutes) and the Pampering Peppermint Mani/Pedi Combo ($90, 75 minutes) through February. "Peppermint is just what our spa-goers need to combat depression, stress, anxiety, restlessness, and mental exhaustion, which are common ailments in the winter and during the holidays." Peppermint also increases concentration and clarity, which is important to clients who have a million holiday to-do lists on their minds.

Through the end of January, Catania's Beach Plum Spas at the Cape Codder Resort & Spa (Hyannis, MA), The Dan'l Webster Inn and Spa (Sandwich, MA), and the John Carver Inn & Spa (Plymouth, MA) will offer the Winter Peppermint Spa Package ($135, 1 hour 50 minutes). Included in the package is a Peppermint Lemon Scrub with Peppermint Lemon Finishing Lotion, a Relaxation Massage, and a Peppermint Pedicure. The Centre for Well-Being at The Phoenician (Scottsdale, AZ) is featuring an affordable holiday-themed menu through the end of December that includes the Pep in Your Step Massage ($99, 50 minutes). It involves a back, neck, and shoulder massage; a foot scrub; and an invigorating peppermint foot massage. For pedicure aficionados, the Spa at Barton Creek (Austin, TX) and The Spa of Colonial Williamsburg (VA) are among several spas that are featuring peppermint-infused pedis. "Peppermint has become popular for foot services, because it invigorates and refreshes tired legs," says Kate Mearns, spa director at The Spa of Colonial Williamsburg. "The tingling feels wonderful."

Clients are also flocking to services that provide head-to-toe tingling. Biotone is offering its spa clients a recipe for a Peppermint Mocha Mud Wrap ($100 to $130 suggested, 60 to 90 minutes), a stimulating and detoxifying body wrap that includes a rubdown with a blend of caffeine, cocoa, and peppermint, as well as a Baltic Black Mud Wrap. Aveda experts, meanwhile, suggest that spas representing the brand feature the Rosemary Mint Awakening Body Wrap ($75 suggested, 60 minutes), which includes an inhalation of peppermint oil; a massage with peppermint and rosemary lotion; an envelopment in warm blankets; and a scalp, hand, and foot massage using peppermint oil. Blue Oil Balancing Concentrate, a spot-treatment massage oil that uses the cooling power of peppermint, can also be applied directly on sore muscles for en extra dose of healing.

In addition to their healing properties, peppermint services lend themselves to fun food and drink pairings, which makes for enticing holiday promotions. The Beach Plum Spas's package includes a Peppermint Patty Martini for guests to enjoy during the pedicure portion of the experience. Stillwater Spa's peppermint services include a cup of peppermint tea, and guests at Revive Spa at JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa (Phoenix) can sip on hot cocoa while they receive the seasonal Peppermint Pedi ($55, 60 minutes). During the Peppermint Patty Pedi ($50, 45 minutes) at Body & Sole Day Spa (Westminster, CO), guests' taste buds are tantalized with a York Peppermint Pattie to savor during their service, and they are given a peppermint-themed treat to take home.

Though it is popular for the holidays, peppermint is also soothing throughout the year, particularly during cold and flu season. "Peppermint is stimulating and a decongestant," says Marc Zollicoffer, Aveda's global educator for massage and spa. "It has been used for hundreds of years to comfort the symptoms of colds and flu." Adds Stillwater Spa's Dail, "Because peppermint oil increases immunity to diseases, it is ideal for the winter season."

Zollicoffer also finds peppermint to be a superb soother for tired tootsies and stress, problems clients encounter 365 days a year. "We put our feet in tight shoes and stand on them for long periods of time, so the stimulating and cooling properties of peppermint benefit the feet," he says. "The number-one reason people visit spas is for stress relief. When people are stressed, they are often 'stuck' in their heads, so scalp massage with peppermint oil can get the energy flowing again and help people process stress."

Peppermint is also perfect for facials. "Acne and rosacea are year-round problems," says Ilike's Hickman, who encourages spas to offer the Rosacea Soothing Facial ($75 to $90 suggested, 60 minutes), which incorporates rosehip- and peppermint-infused products to help relieve inflamed skin. "Peppermint soothes and calms the skin from itching and pain that are associated with acne, rosacea, eczema, or even after more invasive treatments such as peels or microdermabrasion," she says. "The more sensitive skin reacts even to gentle exfoliation, and peppermint can calm such irritation, allowing the therapist to continue the treatment."

It's a fact that peppermint is an ingredient you might want to consider adding to your seasonal spa menus, but think of it as the gift that keeps on giving year-round. As Shana Ominsky, director of spa and wellness at the Spa at Barton Creek, points out, "Peppermint is comforting and soothes nerves—and comfort?is always in season." —Julie Keller


Peppermint Prudence


While it is touted for its many benefits, some spa-goers should refrain from partaking in peppermint treatments, as they can be too stimulating for expectant mothers. Pregnant spa-goers should avoid peppermint services altogether. It is also rather potent, so cover your clients' eyes and other sensitive areas when pampering with peppermint. —J.K.


Peppermint Picks


'Tis the season for soothing, so consider the following peppermint products to help ease your clients' ails through the holidays and beyond.



Aveda Rosemary Mint Body Lotion: This silky, lightweight lotion invigorates with a time-released aroma of certified organic rosemary and peppermint, while it cools and revitalizes skin with menthol. (800) 644-4831;

Bioelements Ultra-Rich Cremetherapy: Loaded with rich emollients, this moisturizing treatment mask, which contains antibacterial peppermint oil, smoothes the appearance of surface lines and dryness, leaving skin feeling soft and revitalized. (800) 433-6650;

Biotone Peppermint Essential Oil: This 100 percent pure essential oil blend is ideal for soothing such ails as indigestion, stomachaches, insect bites, headaches, colds, menstrual cramps, nausea, and more. (800) 445-6457;

Dermalogica Invigorating Shave Gel: This lightweight shaving gel soothes, cools, and softens the skin. It calms redness while combating irritation with the refreshing essence of peppermint oil. (800) 611-SKIN;

Ilike Organic Skin Care Cool Mint Lip Balm: This all-natural peppermint-flavored lip treatment contains beeswax, herbal oils, and shea butter to deeply hydrate extremely chapped lips, while regenerating yarrow and antioxidant-rich grapeseed work to prevent aging. (888) 290-6238;

June Jacobs Peppermint Hand and Foot Polish: Hands and feet feel soft and smooth after a rubdown with this detoxifying scrub that exfoliates and polishes skin with lactic acid and jojoba beads. Aromatic and antiseptic peppermint extract revitalizes and refreshes. (866) JUNE-JACOBS;

Naturopathica Peppermint Tea Tree Foot Balm: This cream combines cooling essences of peppermint, spearmint, and tea tree to help ease stress-related aches and soreness. (800) 592-7995;

Pevonia Botanica Silky Foot Peel: Provide your clients with callus-free feet, courtesy of this peel that exfoliates dead skin cells and eliminates dryness with such ingredients as peppermint oil, pumice powder, and salicylic acid. (800) PEVONIA;

Spa Elegance Mother Earth Costa Rican Healing Massage Cream: This anti-inflammatory massage cream contains a refreshing blend of peppermint and rosemary that reduces inflammation while restoring nutrients. Meanwhile, peppermint essential oil aids in treating sore muscles and relieving joint pain. (877) 200-7728;—J.K.