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EASTERN REMEDIES: The Luxe House's focus on women's wellness includes the breast and lymphatic wellness programme. The lymphatic drainage massage in the chest area uses "tui na" to clear blockages in the breast ducts and lymph nodes, promoting blood circulation.
EASTERN REMEDIES: One Farrer Spa employs the principles of traditional Chinese medicine and modern European techniques so that the skin is treated from the inside and not just on the surface. Acupuncture on the face can boost collagen and placing needles on certain points on the scalp will help with rest and sleep.
HAIR BOOST: Naturally soft hair before the Argan oil treatment and after.

Beauty looks East

The beauty industry taps into traditional Chinese medicine to offer healing therapies.
Aug 1, 2015 5:50 AM

Women's Wellness Programme

The Luxe House

7A Dempsey Road

Tel: 6479-9997

CHINESE "tui na" tends to rank high on the chart for anyone who's into massage for health, and not just feel-good benefits. But because the service tends to be offered on a "value for money" model, one usually has to close one eye to the aesthetics of the place. Not so at The Luxe House, which does live up to its name.

Better still, there's sufficient care and thought put into the services so that what you're getting is a "wellness proposition" - basically that means top-notch therapeutic massages. Earlier this year, the spa launched a programme with a focus on women's wellness and one of it is the breast and lymphatic wellness programme.

Now that's one part of the body which, may I say, you'd be hesitant to have massaged in a spa which may not have the type of branding or décor to put you at ease.

The "tui na" belief is that lymphatic drainage massage in the chest area (technically, this is also good for men) is meant for clearing blockages in the breast ducts and lymph nodes, promoting circulation. The jury is out on that theory that this prevents breast lumps, although it does seem plausible because healthy blood circulation is a good thing.

If you haven't had a complete stranger kneading at your bosom before, suffice to say this isn't one of the massages where you relax and doze off. The female house master first does a preliminary breast health screening (some prodding involved), after which she instructs the therapist on the areas to focus on.

The pain intensity will probably also range from six upwards on a scale of 10 where the higher the number, the more uncomfortable you'd be. Think the pinching pain of a mammogram as firm force is necessary to get that lymphatic flow going. My soreness lasted for a couple of days after the massage (which saw me wincing and yelping about half the time) but true enough, the next time my menses came, there was none of the soreness that precedes it.

For women after childbirth, the programme can also be customised as the treatment will end with breast enhancement, targeted specifically at post-natal women so that their breasts will regain elasticity and shape after breast feeding. A complete programme will also include womb protection, fertility wellness and weight management.

  • Breast and Lymphatic Wellness programmes start from S$5,980 for 10 sessions.

Phoenix Facial

One Farrer Spa

1 Farrer Park Station Road

Tel: 6363-0101

THIS isn't the usual modus operandi - to stick out your tongue at the TCM practitioner when you're lying down, covered with plush towels, on the massage bed. And then she takes your pulse on both wrists, after which she asks you a list of questions that covers your dietary habits and sleep patterns.

The setting isn't clinical at all in this room with its soothing, ambience lighting but the latest move in the spa industry is a much welcomed one. Finally, a spa - one using a top European protocol and products - finds a way to incorporate Asian therapies so that the customer get the best of both worlds. Such a move is only possible because the hotel actually has an Asian Wellness Centre in its facility as well, given that it's linked to medical suites and a hospital.

The hotel's spa started this treatment employing the principles of traditional Chinese medicine and modern European techniques, so that the skin is treated from the inside and not just on the surface.

"The use of acupuncture will further enhance the efficacy of the facial experience," explains Doris Sinnathurai, the hotel's spa director, about the incorporation of a TCM practitioner in the spa.

After TCM practitioner Adele's assessment of this writer's health, Zuzu the facial therapist started on the Decleor facial - deep cleansing followed by a thorough facial massage where serum is gently stroked into the skin.

  After the facial, Adele returns, armed with needles. Having had that time to come up with a treatment plan, she explains that she will be putting the needles on my face, head, and legs, because those are the areas which will help with overall health. The needles - which she taps in efficiently - on the legs, around the knees, for example will help with circulation.

For the face, the main areas chosen are meant to boost collagen, while the points she's chosen on my scalp will help with rest and sleep.

The needles stay in for only about 20 minutes, during which Adele stays in the room all the time. What's most useful is that she is also effectively bilingual and explains TCM principles well. Like the fact that when foot reflexologists tell you that there's a problem with your "intestines" or "digestion" they are actually referring to the spleen system. "In TCM, it's about the systems rather than actual organ function," says Adele.

Trained at the Nanyang Technological University, she's also done a three-year attachment in a hospital in China before returning to work at TCM clinics in Singapore. While this is a new venture for her, it marks an exciting era for the spa service in Singapore which will benefit from the holistic approach.

  • The 90-min Phoenix Facial is priced at S$259++.

Crowning glory revitalised

Harmonizing Hair and Scalp Therapy

The Luxe House

7A Dempsey Road

Tel: 6479-9997

Argan Oil Treatment

FDP Prestige Hair Care Hair Salon

18 Jalan Masjid #B1-06 

Tel: 6841-0511

ONE of the more annoying effects of having a body massage in the middle of the day is to exit with greasy, flattened hair which also could be sticking out at odd ends. But there aren't many spas that offer a post-treatment hair styling option.

The Luxe House must have realised this, hence putting in several custom-made hair/scalp treatment beds in its new wing. The spa now offers a head-to-toe treatment with a deep cleansing scalp treatment thrown in, besides just a simple wash and blow. The fundamental treatment in The Luxe House's hair/scalp menu is the Harmonising Hair and Scalp Therapy. Incorporating massage into the hair/scalp treatment, the 60-minute programme starts with a neck and shoulder dry massage to relax and prepare one for the revitalising scalp treatment that follows.

With your head positioned over the basin placed at the head of the therapy bed, the therapist then massages the scalp. Specially blended essential oils are used, and the scalp's acupoints are pressed to promote blood circulation. After that, the hair is washed with The Luxe House's exclusive range of organic aromatherapy hair care products. It could well be a weekly ritual - for those who want to give their scalp and tresses a boost.

I felt though, that those who have actual scalp problems, like hair loss, would be better off going to a trichology centre, which goes through a few more steps than this.

Meanwhile, FDP Prestige Hair Care Salon at Kembangan Plaza has come up with a self-designed Argan Oil treatment to treat everything from fine, thin, frizzy hair to those who want to have a very straight, almost rebonded look. "The difference lies in the ingredients … so while the hair is straight, there is still a natural flow of the hair," explains creative director Angeline Tan. Side effects of rebonding include breakage of hair, hair fall, and the hair is stripped of its natural elasticity. Meanwhile, the Argan oil in the FDP treatment repairs hair. Morocco's Argan oil has hit the market in recent years, causing a mini revolution in the beauty industry.

The application is quite similar to a dye job - the hair is first washed, and then the treatment paste is applied methodically throughout the hair in layers, from scalp to hair ends. After heat is applied for about 20 minutes or more, the paste is then washed out. The hair is then blow dried thoroughly before the paste is reapplied on the hair. Another washing then ensues before the blow-drying and trimming or styling (if necessary). The whole process takes a good three hours.

In her late 20s, Ms Tan has more than a decade of experience as she grew up in the salon when her mother was running the business. Argan oil is truly the miracle for hair, she says, as it treats the hair while taming it. It's good news for women who don't want scalp problems that come with hair treatment. "And more women these days are suffering from oily scalp conditions," says Ms Tan.

She gave me the FDP Cosme Touch treatment, which helps repair the hair without weighing it down too much. Some treatments out there make the hair too soft, thus the hair loses its body. For the Cosme Touch, the treatment is customised to the hair condition. My natural curls certainly lost their "wild look", but it does take a while to get used to straight hair which I've never had.

  • The Harmonizing Hair and Scalp Therapy is priced at S$88 for members and S$128 for non-members. The Argan Oil Treatment is priced from S$280 upwards.