Here’s a “breakfast” guaranteed to get your face through the day: Gentle Cleanser with Sugar, Mint, Oats and Rice; Firming Toner with Ginger and Willow Bark; rounded off with Daily Moisturizer with Rosemary, Pomegranate and Rice. A sampler of the evening meal: Exfoliating Cleanser with Brown Sugar, Sweet Almonds and Oats; and Night Cream with Cocoa, Millet and Rice Bran.
This “menu” is the brainchild of Be.Fine Food, a Florida-based skincare company that manufactures skincare products using food-based ingredients—the latest trend in the beauty industry. Spas and skincare brands are offering a range of treatments that are good enough to eat, with components such as caviar, dark chocolate, mushroom, avocado and spices.
The logic behind the trend is, simply, that if it’s good enough to go in, it’s good enough to go on. “People are realizing that they have the option of not using chemicals on their bodies, especially when they’re at a spa,” says Dhharram Pratap, chief executive officer of Rudra Spa, a Mumbai-based day spa. Rudra’s most-wanted treatments are the Green Apple Polisher with rice and honey, and the Coconut and Honey Scrub. Another attraction on their menu is a scrub that mixes clove, nutmeg, cinnamon and other spices. Other therapies at the spa feature coffee, dill seeds, almond and tamarind. “The treatments that contain food ingredients are definitely more popular than those containing plants or herbs,” Pratap says.
While it’s quite a thrill to pop caviar pearls in your mouth, it’s a different trip altogether to smear it on your face. Swiss brand La Prairie’s Skin Caviar Luxe Cream is the ultimate skincare luxury at Rs17,000 for 50g. At Franck Provost day spa in Mumbai, the latest ultra-indulgent therapy on offer is the Caviar Facial, which contains freeze-dried caviar. “Fish eggs have superb anti-ageing properties and they show great results on wrinkles,” says Lovina Gidwani Jha, country head of Franck Provost. Jha is a pioneer of sorts on Mumbai’s spa scene when it comes to avant-garde therapies. A dark chocolate rub and a strawberry and sugar exfoliation, which were introduced a few years ago at Franck Provost, have been widely adopted by other spas. Her two latest hits are the Milk and Honey Cocoon (a Cleopatra-esque milk bath) and the Aloe and Cucumber Wrap, in which the client is swathed in banana leaves. “It’s also living your fantasies, in a way,” says Pratap of Rudra. “People dream of having coffee or chocolate all over them. They say, ‘I don’t care what it does for my skin, I just want it on me.’”
That’s exactly what Mumbai’s Le Royal Meridien hotel was counting on when it launched a limited-period champagne promotion in May. Apart from the champagne and food pairings, the hotel’s spa offered customers a Champagne Jacuzzi. For Rs19,990, guests were allowed an hour-long soak in Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Yellow Label. “That’s quite a lot of champagne,” says Mrinal Sarkar, director of food and beverage (unfortunately, patrons were not allowed to ingest any of the free-flowing bubbly. “No alcohol can be consumed in the health club,” says Sarkar). We’re unsure if patrons enquired exactly how the champagne would help their skin, but Sarkar says it rejuvenates, firms and lifts. The promotion was quite a success, and Sarkar hopes to repeat it when strawberries—the perfect accompaniment to champagne—are in season.
In the late 1990s, specialist vinotherapy centres, which use antioxidant-rich grape seeds, skins and stalks, sprang up in the Bordeaux region of France. Today, a majority of spas across the world offer some kind of treatment using grape mixtures such as Merlot wraps, Cabernet scrubs or Sauvignon soaks. And if being smothered in chocolate is a female fantasy, men get a chance to live theirs in the cellars of Chodovar. Last year, the world’s first beer spa was opened in this small family brewery in the Czech Republic. Beer baths, massages as well as beer cosmetics are on offer, and they won’t make a fuss if you down some. In fact, a pint of lager is part of the deal.
Both Pratap and Jha are working on introducing wine therapy at their spas. Until then, your skin can get a regular dose of vinotherapy from Davi, a luxury skincare brand founded by a third-generation Napa Valley vintner. Available at Manhattan’s Bergdorf Goodman, 57g of Davi’s Le Grand Cru face cream will set you back by $175 (about Rs7,000).
But if a cocktail is more your style, get a tube of H2O Plus’ Mojito Truffle Body Polisher. It contains all the ingredients of the classic Cuban: spearmint, white rum and a twist of key lime, with a dash of Theobroma cocoa thrown in. “Customers have been brought up on natural ingredients, so they don’t need further proof of results. They can relate to these ingredients,” says H2O Plus product manager Sippy Jindal. The buttermilk-enhanced Milk range is a best-seller, and the Chicago-based brand (available in Mumbai, New Delhi and Chandigarh) offers a cocktail of Tahitian lime, lemon sorbet, kiwi and exotic spices in the Energize Refreshing Body Wash.
Lush in Bangalore is another skincare store that could be mistaken for a well-stocked kitchen. The company (started by UK-based hippies in the 1970s) uses avocado and mango butters, Belgian chocolate, green grapes, asparagus, kiwi, free range eggs, wheatgrass, fennel, ginger, parsley, garlic and coriander in its organic products.
Or, if you want something uptown, try Lush’s champagne cocktail in the bath—the soon-to-be-launched Champagne Supernova bath bomb is plump with orange and cognac essential oils and colourful confetti. Bingeing is not always a bad thing.