Imagine a lush, beautiful island in the tropics where, for centuries, massage and skin treatments have been an integral part of everyday life. Such a paradise actually exists! Bali, a Hindu island that is part of Indonesia, gave the world the concept of day spas. Balinese spas are most often open to the lush gardens and fragrant blooms that inhabit the island. Spa treatments include the use of the spices and flowers that grow right on the island for massage, facial, and skin treatments. This use of nature’s bounty for the body shows – many Balinese of all ages have beautiful, clear skin.
Balinese massage incorporates fragrant essential oils from native plants. While most of us are familiar with herbal mixtures to treat skin, in Bali the native spices are used in skin treatments. These spices are mixed together in various combination’s, and are often used not only for skin treatments but for various health problems, as well.
One of the most famous Balinese skin treatments is called lulur. There are many different types of lulur, and the recipe varies slightly from spa to spa. Traditionally, a Balinese bride will receive a lulur treatment each day for several weeks before her wedding. Lulur exfoliates the skin, removing dead skin cells and allowing the skin to become fresh and glowing. The treatment begins with Balinese massage and continues with exfoliation of the skin using the lulur mixture. After the lulur is applied to the skin, yogurt is massaged into the mix. Then comes a thorough rinsing with warm water, and a long soak in a large stone tub, where you lay back and are steeped in rose, frangipani, and ylang-ylang petals, smelling the wonderful fragrances as you relax. Then comes a scrubbing with frangipani soap, toweling dry, and freshly made lotion applied to the skin. Sounds wonderful for the body and soul, doesn’t it?
So, how can we bring a little bit of Bali to us? Massage can incorporate Balinese techniques and essential oils, often jasmine or ylang-ylang. Facials can use the rapid, short strokes for scalp and face typical to Bali. And, you can mix up a fair facsimile of lulur using this recipe:
Rice powder – 2 teaspoonsGround sandalwood – 1/2 teaspoonTumeric – 2 teaspoonsJasmine pure essential oil – 3 dropsA little water2 cups of yogurt
Whether you are doing this yourself or having your massage therapist use it, make sure to test a small patch of skin to check for any reactions to the ingredients.
Another traditional Balinese spice-based treatment is known as boreh. Boreh has been used in Balinese villages for many years to increase warmth and relieve aching muscles. Please note that pregnant, nursing, or sunburned people should not use boreh. Here’s a recipe for Balinese boreh:
Babakan powder (sometimes called kulit kagu, find this in an ethnic shop or the Internet) – 1 ounceRice powder – 1 tablespoonClove powder – 1 1/2 tablespoonGrated ginger root – 1 sliceCinnamon powder – 1 teaspoonBlend these with water and apply to the skin. After treatment, rinse.
These treatments, while they are relaxing and wonderful, are not all we can do to bring the Balinese glowing skin and warm spirit to ourselves. In Bali, plenty of fruits, herbal teas, fresh air, and spiritual practices are part of daily life. These help to create physically strong bodies, smiling faces, and a community-based culture that provides mutual support and a sense of belonging – all part of a bountiful life. Try incorporating some of the Balinese treatments and daily practices into your life. Your skin will benefit, and your spirit, as well!