A Sweet History

According to Eva Sztupka Kerschbaumer, owner and Hungarian skincare expert at ESSpa Kozmetika Organic Skincare & Day Spa (Pittsburgh), apricots are at the heart of her country’s skincare traditions thanks to a healing history that dates back generations. When the Huns were still nomads living on the Asian Steppes—before Attila and before they settled in Eastern Europe—one of the only fruits that grew and thrived on those arid plains were apricots. “Because there was so little else available, the Huns used anything they could find in as many ways as they could—nothing was wasted, ever,” says Kerschbaumer. When it came to apricots, there was little to waste. The fruit provides a good source of vitamins A, C, D, E, and K, as well as iron and fiber. Meanwhile, the enzymes, pectin, carotenoids, and other bioflavonoids all help with digestion, organ and system regulation, and immunity. “I can understand why the Huns really loved this fruit,” she says.

Nowadays, it’s not just Hungarians who are craving apricots, though many Hungarian lines feature apricot-infused products. Kerschbaumer calls apricot the salt of skincare ingredients because it can be used in and for almost everything. Along with its many nutritional advantages, apricots provide the skin with countless anti-aging and anti-inflammatory benefits. Apricot flesh is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, which makes products containing apricot excellent for any skincare regimen. “Apricots have softening, nourishing, moisturizing, regenerating, and remineralizing properties,” says Noella Gabriel, director of product and treatment development for Elemis, which features apricot as an ingredient in several products. “They are recommended as extracts in products for dry, sensitive, and irritated skin, and the organic acids and enzymes contained in apricots give them exfoliating properties, offering tired and dull skin a bright complexion.”

Meaghan Cochrane, public relations and marketing representative for Éminence Organic Skin Care, is also a proponent of this sweet-smelling fruit. “Apricots are a terrific source of minerals like calcium, phosphorus, and iron, not to mention their high concentration of vitamins A and C,” she says. “The beta carotene in apricot is great for the skin, as well, because it is an antioxidant and protects the cells while slowing the aging process.”

One of the most nourishing and easy-to-use byproducts of apricot is apricot kernel oil, which is cold-pressed from the seed of the fruit. It is an effective carrier oil for massage, because it is easily absorbed into the skin and doesn’t leave behind an oily residue. “Apricot kernel oil contains high levels of the oleic and linoleic essential fatty acids,” says Cochrane. Because of these properties, apricot oil can soothe irritated skin and calm inflammation while moisturizing. Its emollient properties make it an ideal choice for people with drier skin, while the gentleness makes it an effective treatment in assisting to cure such ailments as eczema, dermatitis, sunburn, and itchy skin. Regular applications of apricot oil or products containing apricot oil keep skin hydrated, smooth, and supple, so this also helps reduce stretch marks and scars. Apricot oil can be found in countless skincare items, including lotions, creams, balms, soaps, and massage oils, but Kerschbaumer says to take care when selecting apricot-infused products—the highest quality apricot oil will be rich in color and scent.

Tasty Treatments

Due to its myriad benefits, apricot can be found in many services at spas around the globe. The Spa at The Carneros Inn (Napa, CA) provides a sweet treat for the body and feet with its Sweet Ripened Apricot and Chardonnay Pedicure ($80, 45 minutes) and the Sweet Ripened Apricot and Chardonnay Scrub ($125, 45 minutes), both of which are performed using ripened apricots grown in the region, organic sugar, and chardonnay-infused oil. “Our clients love the sweet apricot smell of these treatments,” says Jeannie Jarnot, director of spa and retail operations. “It makes them feel uplifted and happy.”
Apricots are also ideal for skincare. Though ESSpa Kozmetika uses apricot in a number of its massages, scrubs, body wraps, and nailcare services, the Organic Apricot Facial Experience ($150, 90 minutes) is really the “grandmother of all our Hungarian treatments,” says Kerschbaumer. According to her, this facial offers effective results to nearly every skin type and nearly every guest. During the treatment, she offers special apricot extras, such as ground apricot pits for exfoliation and apricot oil to emulsify creams and masks and to boost the antioxidant power. She also uses a handmade apricot mask made from fruit, pectin, honey, paprika, organic sugar, and Hungarian mineral water, and at the conclusion of the facial, she explains the benefits of the fruit, offers guests advice for healthy eating, and presents them with a glass of freshly brewed apricot tea.

Several spas that carry Éminence products are also embracing apricot therapies with such options as The Ahhhpricot Facial ($80 to $150 suggested, 45 to 60 minutes); The Ahhhpricot Body Treatment ($150 to $200 suggested, 60 to 75 minutes); and The Ahhhpricot Manicure & Pedicure ($70 to $100 suggested, 75 to 90 minutes). Meanwhile, many other spas use apricot seeds and offer skin-saving scrubs designed to reveal fresh, radiant skin. The Spa at Glenelly Inn & Cottages (Glen Ellen, CA), for example, features an Apricot Body Scrub ($135, 60 minutes) using ground apricot kernels, herbs, and essential oils. In fact, apricot works well with just about everything for any spa service. “I wouldn’t hesitate combining any other ingredient with apricot,” says Cochrane. “Honey blends well with apricot, as do many essential oils, such as lavender, mandarin, and grapefruit. In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), when combined with St. John’s Wort oil, apricot acts as an anti-inflammatory and has a cooling effect.”

Retail Crop
Apricot is not only effective in the treatment room. It can also quickly become a retail favorite. The Apricot and Cream product line has been the signature amenity for more than 15 years at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa (CA). According to Shari Claflin, director of spa operations, the line, which includes a shampoo, a conditioner, and a moisturizer, is the best-seller in the spa retail area and on the retail website. Kerschbaumer has also found great success with retailing apricot products, including her own EKOspa private label brand, as well as Éminence Organic Skin Care and Ilike Organic Skin Care.

Whether you are planning to use apricot-infused products in the treatment room or just offer them at retail, Cochrane says it’s hard to go wrong with the fragrant fruit. “Apricots are vibrant, fresh fruits with a mild, appealing, and relaxing aroma that suits most spa-goers,” she says. Kerschbaumer agrees, adding, “No matter how many new discoveries come along, I know I can always rely on these tiny orange fruits to help me make my guests look and feel better, inside and out.”

Appealing Apricot
Want to sweeten your spa menu with products infused with apricot? Check out the offerings:

Darphin Nourishing Smoothing Body Scrub: Containing a blend of apricot, lavender, and peppermint essential oils, this translucent, aromatic gel is enriched with natural cranberry extracts, bamboo particles, and silica powder for a multi-level exfoliation. (866) 880-4559; www.darphin.com.

Elemis Soothing Apricot Toner: Apricot extracts that soothe the skin and provide a fresh, radiant glow are incorporated in this alcohol-free toner that is ideal for sensitive skin. (800) 423-5293; www.elemis.com.

Éminence Organic Skin Care Apricot Masque: This mask is packed with calming and hydrating apricots that soothe and revitalize normal to dry skin, as well as eczema. The mask features a high concentration of minerals like calcium, iron, and phosphorus, and vitamins A and C. (888) 747-6342; www.eminenceorganics.com.

Ilike Organic Skin
Care Apricot Whipped Moisturizer:
This cream is ideal for dry, normal, aging, and sensitive skin. It rejuvenates, revitalizes, and infuses skin with vitamins. (888) 290-6238; www.szepelet.com.

Naturopathica Evening Primrose Replenishing Eye Cream: The eye area is soothed and calmed with a blend of apricot oil, borage seed oil, and evening primrose, all of which are rich in gamma linoleic acid, an essential component of collagen synthesis. (800) 669-7618; www.naturopathica.com.