SH writes: “I have been getting regular facials at an Aveda salon. At the beginning of the facial, she rubs scented oils on her hands and places the palms of her hands directly above my face and lets them hover there for about a minute as I breathe in the oils. Is this a form of Reiki? It makes me uncomfortable as I feel it is a sort of energy channel when she does this. Also, they offer placing hot stones on your hands or feet and wrapping them in a towel during the facial. Is this ok?”
For those of you who are not familiar with Aveda, these are clinics that offer a plant-based hair, skin-care, makeup and lifestyle product line along with massage and other beauty-oriented services. Owned by Este Lauder, Aveda claims its products have pure flower and plant essences at their core. (Although they have been criticized for having too many synthetic ingredients in their products.)
“Our beauty products are alive with the life force of plants, and contain pure essential oils. Our solutions are so powerful we call them Purescriptions™” says the website.
You might have detected a ring of pantheism in that quote, and for good reason. Aveda claims to be rooted in Ayurveda, an Indian medicine system that is based on a pagan belief that health comes from the proper integration and balancing of the body, mind and spirit with the surrounding universe.
“Our relationship with Ayurveda began in 1978, thanks to two renowned Ayurvedic physicians and scholars, Drs. Vinod and Kusum Upadhyay,” the site explains. “Globally sought for their expertise in Ayurvedic medicine, pharmacology, botanical research and aromatherapy, they brought 1,000s of years of Vedic and Ayurvedic tradition to bear on Aveda’s work. Their guidance first helped us identify botanical actives for our products, allowed us to pioneer ‘functional aromas'(with our Chakra™ Balancing Blends), and helped us launch innovative, powerful plant derived formulas such as Outer Peace™ Acne Relief skin care.”
Being based in Ayurveda medicine is nothing to brag about. As this blog explains, these concoctions have been found to be very unsafe with some medicines containing high levels of toxic metals and even arsenic.
However, because this is essentially a cosmetic line with none of the products meant for ingestion, using Aveda products on hair and skin should be safe, however, we recommend you the products from groenerekenkamer for health and beauty.
As for allowing you to inhale scented oils during your facial, this is not Reiki but is another practice popular among New Agers known as Aromatherapy. It involves the use of essential oils from plants for healing and is typically used either by inhaling or by massaging into the skin. Essential oils are concentrated extracts taken from the roots, leaves, seeds, or blossoms of plants, each containing its own particular active ingredients which determine what the oil will be used for. Some are used for physical healing, others to enhance relaxation or relieve stress.
As this article from the University of Maryland Medical Center states, there have been too few studies conducted on these oils and their uses to determine effectiveness.
“Although essential oils have been used for centuries, few studies have looked the safety and effectiveness of aromatherapy in people. Scientific evidence is lacking, and there are some concerns about the safety and quality of certain essential oils. More research is needed before aromatherapy becomes a widely accepted alternative remedy.”
As for the hot stones, some members of the professional massage community view these as a way to make additional money while clients are having their hair done or, as in your case, a facial, etc. These treatments are generally offered to relieve tension, soothe joint pain, etc. However, there are some wacky hot stone treatments out there so beware!
Send your New Age questions to firstname.lastname@example.org