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R. Jeanette Martin
2 of 2
R. Jeanette Martin
The treatment: 60 minutes in a sensory deprivation float tank
at H20 Float Spa ($59, 138 Danforth, 647-349-0426, h2ofloatspa.com).
The promise: Reduce stress and anxiety, strengthen immune system, calm and hydrate skin and hair, increase energy level, flush toxins.
The lowdown: When a spa makes me sign away financial responsibility for the cleanup of any fecal matter I might let slip in their facilities, I get a little uneasy. I was already worried about my overstimulated brain's ability to handle an hour in a sensory deprivation tank, but when I joked about "losing my shit," never did it occur to me that I might literally park my breakfast in the little white pod.
The pod is filled with about 10 inches of salt water and can be adjusted to emit various shades of glowing light or complete darkness. I go for the full sensory deprivation experience: closed lid, no lights. I float in complete peace - aside from the rumbling sound of the subway passing below ground every seven minutes or so. Turns out even a sensory deprivation chamber can't shield you from the misery that is the TTC.
Then, I feel it. Slight waves of nausea roll over me, and my mind flashes to those forms I signed in the lobby. I try to ride it out, but it's a no-go. I have to turn on the lights and spend the rest of my hour sitting in the shallow tub trying not to let salt water creep into any of my orifices. (When they suggest wearing earplugs and not accidentally inhaling the water, they mean it.)
The verdict: Apparently nausea is felt by a very small percentage of first-time users - especially if they have a lot to detox. The salt water leaves my skin and hair well conditioned, and I do feel less irritable for the next couple of weeks.
The treatment: Bamboo massage
at the Trump Hotel's Quartz Crystal Spa ($210, 325 Bay, 416-637-5595, quartzcrystalspa.com).
The promise: Reduce muscle tension, stimulate circulation, relaxation both physical and spiritual.
The lowdown: I arrive excited (because who doesn't like a massage?) but skeptical. Almost every spa in town has a service on its menu - priced at a premium - that incorporates some sort of quirky, allegedly foreign apparatus. Usually the treatment is little more than a gimmick.
This bamboo massage leaves me pleasantly surprised. For starters, the Trump doesn't let just any old massage therapist knead you with hollow bamboo canes - there's only one woman on staff who performs the treatment. And she is a master of her craft.
The heated canes make for a deeper, firmer massage that almost immediately puts me into trance-like state. By the time the 75 minutes are up, I've decided hot stone massages are for suckers and bamboo is the only way to go.
The verdict: A little pricey, but good for special occasions, people with well managed bank accounts or those with generous medical benefits.
The treatment: Crystal grid therapy
at The Rock Store ($95 for 60 minutes, 602 Markham, 416-516-2191, therockstore.ca).
The promise: Relaxation and stress relief. This month's ceremony is the "I AM" ritual grid, which reaffirms and ignites who you are and where you need to be at this moment in time. Strengthens your purpose, confidence and pride in who you are.
The lowdown: The room is beautiful. It's covered in a rich tapestry on top of which sit over 100 rocks and crystals placed in intricate patterns and swirls interspersed with candles. These are sacred shapes, and each has a purpose.
I lie on my back in an open space in the middle of the floor, and the practitioner lays a series of stones down the centre of my body, starting with my forehead and ending with my abdomen. She combines aromatherapy with reiki and qigong, ancient healing practices based on the idea that life-force energy flows through us.
Unlike during massage, there is very little touching. The practitioner mostly holds her hands over parts of my body where she senses issues, serving as a vessel for healing energies.
By the end of the treatment, I feel so deeply relaxed, I'm in a sleep-like state. I also feel very content and light. The practitioner offers advice based on what she felt during the treatment and tells me I'll feel the full effects over the next few days.
The verdict: I can't say I feel completely different, but do notice myself making decisions with more confidence and not wasting time on things or people that bring negativity into my life.
The treatment: Fraxel laser skin resurfacing and Selphyl, aka the Vampire Facelift
at Glow Medi Spa ($900, 129 Yorkville, 4th floor, 416-920-9998, glowmedispa.ca).
The promise: Stimulates collagen, reduces acne scars, smoothes skin, reverses sun damage, gives skin a nice glow.
The lowdown: Diane Wong, MD and owner of Glow Medi Spa, tells me I'm too young (20-something) to get the full Vampire Facelift made famous by Kim Kardashian. Unlike a lot of doctors in her field, she's not in the business of administering unnecessary treatments. Instead, she suggests a less intense version of Selphyl combined with Fraxel.
Fraxel treats thousands of microscopic areas of skin using laser beams that penetrate beneath the skin's surface. The wounds created by the laser push their way out of the skin over a week's time, and the extra collagen produced in the healing process has a myriad of benefits.
Selphyl, which involves drawing blood and centrifuging it to separate the platelet-rich plasma, helps boost the treatment's effects and speeds healing. Unlike Kardashian, I don't have my blood-plasma injected back into my face - it's applied topically after the laser resurfacing.
It makes a huge difference in the healing process. From the moment it's applied to my face, the Selphyl soothes and minimizes the sunburn-like effects of the Fraxel laser. Post-treatment discomfort and redness is much less than I expected from reading about others' experiences minus the Selphyl online. Compared to their accounts, my expeience is a cakewalk.
The verdict: Fraxel is one of the best options around for those with skin concerns that regular spa facials won't fix, but who aren't ready to jump into more serious lasers or invasive procedures. If you're interested, save yourself a lot of grief by combining the treatment with Selphyl and going to a medispa that knows their stuff.
The treatment Urine therapy
(free, in my bathroom).
The promise: Glowing skin, cleared acne. The idea is that urine is a natural and very potent healing ingredient because of its high concentration of minerals, enzymes and hormones that contain essential nutrients.
The lowdown: There is absolutely nothing dignified about this. For an entire week I catch my first pee of the day - midstream, because that's where all the nutrients are - in a plastic water bottle and then pour it into my hands and pat it all over my face.
The first morning is the hardest. The stench of urine emanating from the water bottle makes me seriously question my career track, but I suck it up and it's not so bad. It absorbs quickly, and I slather my regular moisturizer on top to cover up any hint of smell.
I don't notice any improvements in my skin, and even break out a little more than usual. That said, it's best to maintain a healthy diet while trying urine therapy and I consume a lot of crap and cheap wine the week I test this. Chances are I'm more or less dabbing diluted Pinot Grigio on my face the entire time.
The verdict: Not for me, but I know people who swear by urine therapy. If you eat a lot of salad and are better at aiming your pee into water bottles than I am, give it a go.