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Origin of the 'Japanese Head Spa'

Updated: 4 days ago

japanese head spa treatment
'Head Spa Halo'

Chances are, if you're on TikTok, you've come across countless videos featuring a halo waterfall cascading over someone's head while an Asian woman energetically massages and scrubs the client's scalp. This trend has taken the beauty industry by storm in recent years, but it actually originates from an ancient Indian holistic healing practice that dates back over 5000 years. Known as 'Shirodhara,' this treatment is part of Ayurvedic head therapy and has been a staple in self-care routines for the Japanese and various other Asian cultures for many years. Let's pause for a moment and delve into the essence of Ayurveda!

Ayurveda is a holistic healing system that originated in India over 5,000 years ago as mentioned above, the word Ayurveda comes from the Sanskrit words so when we break down Ayurveda, we find that 'Ayur' means life or lifespan and 'veda' means science or knowledge. Therefore, Ayurveda can be understood as the science of life.. It's based on the idea that the universe is connected, and that good health comes from harmony between the mind, body, and spirit. Ayurveda is the sister science to yoga which focuses on healthy living and personalizing the healing process, rather than treating specific diseases.

Ayurvedic Medicine
Ayurvedic Medicine

In this holistic system there are many treatments that are aimed to eliminate impurities, reduce symptoms, reduce resistance to disease, reduce worry and immensely increase harmony in life. Herbs and other plants, including oils and common spices, are used extensively in Ayurvedic treatment. A more in depth blog on Ayurveda and it's many holistic treatments will be published in the near future as we explore the numerous treatments and slowly bring them into our practice... For now lets jump back into the head spa topic that brought us all here!

herbs for scalp health
Rosemary, oil & herbs for scalp

As mentioned; the head spa treatment was inspired from the Shirodhara treatment which involves pouring a gentle flow of warm herbal oil out of a copper bowl onto the forehead & scalp. Shirodhara is derived from a Sanskrit word, meaning “Shiro” as head and “Dhara” as flow. There are many potential benefits to this ayurvedic traditional practice that contains zero side effects. This treatment is beyond relaxing and has been studied to have several benefits including:

  • Improving concentration

  • Improves quality of sleep

  • Relieves headaches

  • Calms the nervous system

  • Helps with hair growth

  • Strengthens the hair follicle

  • Improves blood circulation

  • Lowers blood sugar

  • Lowers stress, anxiety & depression

amongst many other benefits...

Chinese Traditional Medicine (CTM) originated around 3000 years ago, drawing inspiration from Ayurveda. Various Asian cultures developed their own holistic medical systems based on this approach, integrating it into their daily routines as a preventive health measure. Presently, numerous Asian bath houses provide spa treatments for self-care. In certain Asian societies, particularly Korean, visiting the bath house weekly is not considered a luxury but rather a fundamental aspect of their lifestyle. It serves as a way to maintain connections with family and friends. It's to no surprise why American culture is one of the unhealthiest to exist. American culture looks at self care as a form of luxury when in reality these treatments have numerous studies on their health benefits. It's to no surprise why Asians are amongst some of the most healthiest and live longer than majority of the humans worldwide.

chinese medicine
Chinese traditional Medicine

My first encounter with a Chinese head spa was in New York City in 2015. I stumbled upon it while having lunch with friends in Queens, NY. I remember passing by the storefront and seeing glamorous images of women receiving head massages with flowers and oils dripping down. Intrigued, I turned back, took a card, and returned a few days later for my appointment. The spa was predominantly attended by Asian women, and I was the only non-Asian woman present, but I was completely comfortable with that and eager to try the experience. During my visit, I enjoyed a foot detox treatment, foot massage, and the head scalp treatment in a room filled with spa beds offering minimal privacy. Subsequently, I tried a Japanese head scalp treatment at a different venue and later experienced the Korean version. At that time, head spas were not widely known, affordable, and not particularly luxurious, but they provided a great deal of relaxation.

As of late, Head Spas all over the world have transformed into a more luxurious experience, offering better quality products and aesthetically pleasing settings! At Skin Palace & Wellness, we have customized our head spa area into an Amethyst Room. We have imported numerous Amethyst Crystal Rocks from Brazil & Uruguay and are currently in the process of incorporating them into the walls to create the ambiance of receiving a treatment in an amethyst cave. Personally, as the owner, I selected amethyst for its therapeutic and soothing characteristics, but I will delve deeper into this process in a forthcoming blog post!

Amethyst room
Amethyst Rocks for the Amethyst Room

Growing up as a Dominican woman in the heart of Manhattan, visiting the salon weekly was a regular occurrence for me, as it is ingrained in my culture to care meticulously for our often unruly hair. The Dominican salons I frequented placed a strong emphasis on the health of the scalp and hair, providing thorough hair washes and delightful massages - which, truth be told, was the highlight of my salon visits. A commonality between Asian and Dominican cultures is the shared value placed on maintaining healthy hair and scalp. A genuine head spa experience involves a deep scalp cleansing, hair washing, steaming to open the hair follicles, hot oil treatments, and specialized masks for hair repair and strengthening; this too was the standard protocol for Dominican salons which I found very intriguing.

Dominican Salon in my old neighborhood in the upper west side of Manhattan

Despite my appreciation for traditional head spa treatments, I often found that my hair felt dry and stringy afterward. Therefore, when I introduced Head Spa Services at my spa, I opted to adhere to an authentic Head Spa regimen but substituted the usual herbs, plants & products with Italian hair and scalp care items. If you are familiar with Italian beauty practices, they also embrace a holistic philosophy, utilizing natural botanicals and herbs in all their skincare, body care, and hair care lines. Although we still will use natural herbs and flowers for the treatment, we are getting the best results with the Italian line Alfaparf Milano. We have received only positive feedback and even are being asked to offer full hair services- but for now we will remain a spa at this specific location..

Alfaparf Milano Scalp Line
Alfaparf Milano Scalp Line

Now, let's skip ahead a little to explore what this treatment involves and what you can expect during your visit:

Luxury - Lots of pampering- and- Self Indulgence!

Head Spas have become increasingly popular for offering a new level of relaxation through a multisensory experience that was previously unavailable in the industry. While traditional massages promote healing and relaxation, they typically only include a brief scalp therapy session. The head spa experience amplifies that moment of relaxation by tenfold. If you appreciate having your hair gently washed, massaged, and pampered for 75 minutes, then this service is perfect for you!

relaxing in the spa

Upon arrival for your appointment, you will be welcomed with freshly brewed herbal tea to help you unwind and relax. You will have the opportunity to choose from a selection of essential oils. A scalp analysis will then be conducted using a 200x magnified device to assess the condition of your scalp and hair follicles, allowing us to tailor the treatment to your specific requirements. Following this, you will be provided with a fresh robe and any necessary essentials for your visit, after which you will have time to relax and make yourself comfortable as we step out of the room. The soothing sounds of nature and water will create a tranquil atmosphere to prepare you for the upcoming indulgence. Upon our return, your head spa specialist will assist you in settling onto the heated spa bed under the sheets. The experience commences with a delightful scalp massage using the chosen essential oils to awaken your senses. By targeting pressure points, known as Marma points in Ayurvedic medicine, your mind, body, and spirit will gradually ease into a state of deep relaxation, continuing the journey.

scalp analysis
Scalp Analysis

The Shirodhara treatment is a wonderful addition to the head spa experience. As mentioned at the start of this blog, it involves the gentle pouring of warm herbed oil over the forehead. This therapy is ideal for those seeking relaxation or a profound sense of calm. You can easily research the advantages of this treatment to determine if it suits your needs. The Shirodhara treatment is administered prior to any scalp cleansing or shampooing. Our cleansing routine commences with a soothing warm rosemary rinse, followed by a gentle but deep cleansing and steaming process. The remainder of the treatment is our distinctive procedure that will leave you feeling deeply relaxed and happy.

Adding a Head Spa treatment to your self care routine will not only give you a healthy clean scalp and beautiful shiny hair, it will help regulate your nervous system and enlighten your senses leaving you feeling more harmonious and happy to deal with life!

So what are you waiting for? Use the link below to explore the Head Spa menu but do keep in mind we have limited info online and offer more options/add on if interested in the spa!

Our head spa room

We are exploring options to branch off into other areas of SWFL and a couple major cities outside of Florida. We also intend to set up a second head spa bed that we currently have, but initially, we will only be providing individual treatments. Additionally, we have a team and treatment rooms ready for facials and beauty services. If you wish to schedule this treatment or require further details, please reach out to us for personalized assistance!

Call/text us at (239)719-4595

Visit us in Fort Myers, FL

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