A Gem of a Face

Euro-Stone Facial Relaxes and Rejuvenates

By Karrie Mowen (Osborn)

Originally published in Massage & Bodywork magazine, June/July 2001.

As a zealous fan of LaStone Therapy (the use of warmed stones as an integral part of a massage), I was eager to learn more about a new facial treatment called Euro-Stone Facial, which uses a combination of warm river rocks and cool gemstones.

In other stone therapies designed for the entire body, the most comforting aspect, for me personally, is the application of warmed stones to the face, with one stone always taking a special place at the Sixth Chakra site (the third eye). Noting the unusual use of stones in the Euro-Stone Facial, I could only imagine a nurturing similarity in sensation.

I called in search of a spa trained in the treatment to experience its benefits firsthand. Just my luck, Colorado is a bit removed from the Coasts, and no one offered the work here. So I went straight to the source, imagining the experience via the knowledge of Gabrielle Perret Johnson, developer of this unique technique.

Stone Faced

Working in a world of holistic skin care, Johnson was addressing a client's needs about a year ago when she developed the Euro-Stone Facial. "The Spa at Chateau Elan asked us to develop something similar to stone therapy for the body, but for the face," said Johnson recently, from the offices of Essensa in New York City. "Estheticians wanted something similar, knowing the wonderful feeling of the warmed stones."

Johnson worked to create a treatment that was both healing in an overall sense, yet customizable for each client. She knew the river rocks were an integral part of the body treatment and decided to make them an important element in the facial as well. But it was Johnson's experience with essential oils, 5-element theory and color therapy that blossomed the traditional stone work into something different--a melding of knowledge that came to be known as the Euro-Stone Facial.

This facial therapy plays off of many of the benefits of traditional stone therapies. Warmed stones are used to diffuse the heat into the skin and to help Essensa's aromatic oils penetrate deeper. "It provides an immediate release in the muscles of the face," Johnson said. The manual work performed during the facial is the careful stimulation of the lymphatic system, using stones instead of fingers. In all, there are 14 specific movements in the facial treatment.

Bringing in her therapeutic perspective of gems and minerals, Johnson decided to incorporate a variety of gemstones to rebalance the client's energy centers (utilizing the meridian principle) and to put the client in a state of deep relaxation. "The gemstones do a lot of the healing work themselves," said Johnson. "I think it's a wonderful tool for estheticians and massage therapists to incorporate into their treatments."

Annett Saunders, services training supervisor for the Spa at Chateau Elan, has been nothing but pleased with the Euro-Stone facial. Utilizing the treatment over the past year, Saunders said spa guests have been "amazed" with the work. "They come out saying, 'Wow. I've never had anything like that before.'" Saunders originally asked Johnson to find a stone treatment for her estheticians to use with their clients (noting the popularity of hot stone massages), as well as finding a technique which highlighted the various Essensa products the spa already incorporated into its menu of services. "The Essensa line itself is wonderful to work with," Saunders said. "When you add in the hot stone treatment for the face, it makes it even more wonderful."

So how does Saunders describe the Euro-Stone facial? "It's so nice and very relaxing." Like the hot stone body massage, bringing stones into the facial work adds a new dimension to the work, she said. "The thing I notice most is when guests come out, they're so peaceful." Saunders said even though Chateau Elan doesn't do spiritual or ethereal-type work, when clients are done with the Euro-Stone facial they often report visualizations and other unexpected outcomes. Saunders theorizes the deep relaxation often brings people to a place where they can focus on the inward processes.

The Gems

Looking to use 14 river rocks, two marble hearts, and four different gemstones (crystal, amethyst, hematite and turquoise) within the facial, Johnson said it made sense to create a rhythm for this menagerie of stones. Generally, the river rocks are warmed, while the gemstones are cooled in a bowl of ice water. Johnson said the gemstone therapy incorporated into this facial work is not massage therapy. "It is a body treatment, using the power of the warmed river rock and the gemstones throughout the chakras."

Each stone has its place and purpose in the treatment, but the gemstones take on even greater healing significance in the process. "Precisely how crystals work to promote good health is hotly debated," said Johnson. "A popular theory is that crystals actually vibrate at the same pitch as people and can be used to relieve suffering because the resonance between the patient and the stone either combats the vibration of illness or amplifies those of health," she said.

Even without a full explanation of cause and effect, clients are eager to give gemstones a try. "People are coming back to gemstones. They're not afraid of these kinds of tools like they were before. We're able to take what Mother Earth has to offer, as well as take the "taboo" out of it."

Holistic Skin Care

The Euro-Stone Facial is a melding of benefits, Johnson said, just as it is a melding of theories. "You benefit from the aromatherapy going through the olfactory, the benefits to the skin from the oils and the mask, the healing done through the gemstones and the detoxifying aspects of the river rocks thereby increasing microcirculation." Plus, she said, "it offers 10 times the relaxation of a traditional facial."

Johnson is part of a new trend in esthetic therapy--holistic skin care. "There has always been a polarity in skin care," Johnson explained. "Because you have so much medical and chemical in one hand, you need to balance it with something that is healing and re-energizing." Johnson said being involved in holistic skin care today is exciting because more and more people are opening to a natural approach.

Holistic skin care has always been around, said Johnson, but it's been erased from the vocabulary because it's too New Age. As a result, people were afraid of doing holistic skin care. Today, Johnson considers the work she does as holistic, but she said a better way of describing it to the client, and even colleagues, might be "parallel therapy." She explained, like complementary care (which takes into account and often works hand-in-hand with Western medicine), holistic skin care as a parallel therapy works integrally with the chemical side of the field, but doesn't forget what nature has provided.

Are We Sold?

The early reports on the Euro-Stone Facial are that clients are not only booking, they're rebooking for the treatment.

Why? "Because it brings another dimension to the facial," said Johnson. "It's really the full circle of therapy--between the smell, the touch and the energy rebalancing....it is a true body/mind/spirit experience."

Johnson said due to the natural lymphatic drainage from the massage techniques, as well as the toning effect from the warmth and coolness of the stones, all skin types and ages can experience it. Cooler stones, however, are recommended for more sensitive skin types, or those with inflammation of sun damage.

Even with its overwhelming appeal, Johnson wants to make sure others understand the Euro-Stone facial is about much more than just buying a bag of tricks. "Spa managers call and ask if they can just buy the rock and gem kits," Johnson said. She tells them she's not in the stone business. "Often people want the bag of tricks without understanding the full range of philosophy. But you can't practice it without really understanding it."

Those who've undergone the Euro-Stone Facial treatment themselves rave of the deep sense of relaxation, much akin to the sensations experienced in a LaStone treatment.

As for me, I'll still feel sorry for myself that I've not yet had the opportunity to experience the Euro-Stone facial, but I'll also be the first to book my appointment when it comes to Colorado.

For more information about the Euro-Stone Facial, call Essensa at 800/932-0168 or visit www.essensa.com.

Karrie Mowen (Osborn) is the former editor and current contributing editor of Massage & Bodywork magazine.

[sidebar 1]
Gem Stones
Crystal-Quartz: This stone is used with the Seventh, or Crown, Chakra, also known as the transpersonal point. The crystal is said to address issues of sluggishness, lethargy, exhaustion, as well as clearing negativity and detoxifying at all levels.

Amethyst-Quartz: Used with the Crown Chakra, this stone helps with cramps, broken veins, hyperventilation, panic attacks, stress and various aspects of recovery.

Turquoise: The Fifth, or Throat, Chakra finds benefit with this stone. Turquoise helps with rheumatism, susceptibility to disease and overeating, as well as opening and clearing the thymus, healing emotions and enhancing creativity.

Hematite: Used with the Heart Chakra, this stone helps to ground the client, ease menstrual flow and be of assistance with acne, bone fractures and joint pain.

[sidebar 2]
Opening the Soul
The fourth step in the Euro-Stone Facial begins by taking two of the smaller river stones and creating large, clockwise circles around the client's eyes. With the completion of each circle, move the stone down the sides of the nose to the tip, finishing with the stones gently stretching the skin back toward the temples. Repeat three times. Complete the step by laying the stones on the decollete (just under the collar bone).