The beauty of Europe lies not only in its scenery, but also in the miracles that Nature and technology have done on people’s skin and well-being
In recent years, “hi-tech” and “purely natural” become the main labels in European beauty market. Research has been diverted to genes, cells and microbiome in a more overwhelming way, which brings forth innovative guest experiences and inspiring results. Meanwhile, people are becoming increasingly savvy about everything that goes into their stomach and onto their face. Natural and organic is the criteria. The boundary between beauty and wellness begin to blur. Against such background, each country keeps developing its unique time-honored advantages and working hard to bring out more breakthroughs to meet the requirements of customers.
France – Healing of the Sea
Thalassotherapy is the USP of France. As early as 1865, Frenchman Jacques de la Bonnardière invented the concept of thalassotherapy, contracting two Greek words, thalassa (sea) and therapia (therapy). It refers to the medical use of the beneficial properties of the sea (which includes coastal climate, seawater, marine mud, seaweed, sand, and other substances extracted from the sea) with a preventative and remedial aim.
The first establishments had a purely medical aspect, from which the great and noble European families benefitted, whereas thalassotherapy centres today are more accessible. Dotted around the French coastline are pristine white havens of tranquility and soothing calm, each spa a place for retreat and regeneration whilst in and out of soft toweling robes.
You can go for an application of marine mud, which has analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects, while the skin is infused with the richness of active elements. Seaweed wraps see the body covered from head to foot in a layer of warm seaweed to optimize the absorption of trace elements, while a cooling wrap has a seaweed lotion applied to your lower limbs, activating circulation in the veins while giving an immediate and long-lasting feeling of lightness and freshness. For seawater treatments, there are many options, from jet water showers, underwater showers and whirlpool baths to hydro-massage baths, hydro-jets and body scrubs. Then there are the range of body massages, all given by a state-certified kinesiotherapy masseuse to provide relief in a therapeutic state.
France has the highest concentration of thalassotherapy facilities, especially in Brittany and in Basque Country (which extends into Spain) – such as Saint-Malo, Sofitel Quiberon, Helianthal Hotel and Hotel du Palais. Many traditional centers have been largely renovated. Thalassotherapy remains a positive theme while other hotel features gain visibility. There are updated buildings, new shapes and sizes of the pools, and offerings of food and recreations, attractive to both old and young consumers.
These places must adhere to certain standards and rules. For example, they must be within 1,000m of the highest water level and the seawater used in treatment pools and in individual treatments must be completely natural. It should be freshly drawn and transported directly through the centre’s pipes, and must be identical to open water, with a maximum salinity difference of 2%. It is then heated (between 31 and 35°C) to encourage the dilation of skin pores and to let the biological composites act directly upon the body. De-stressing and encouraging dynamism and vitality are the key health-enhancing benefits. Safety and hygiene are paramount too. In addition to independent laboratory analyses, a thalassotherapy establishment carries out monthly samplings from the pumping station and all treatment pools for bacteriological analyses by an accredited laboratory and monthly controls of seawater salinity in the storage reservoirs.
Healing from the sea is also found in numerous French skincare brands such as Phytomer, Thalgo, Algologie and more.
Switzerland – Fountain of Youth
Switzerland is widely recognized as a global leader in medical technology, especially with fruitful research and achievements in cellular studies, from the world-shaking discovery of sheep embryo therapy (extracting living cells from the fetus of a black sheep) to today’s stem cell therapy (extracting from one’s own body tissues).
In brief, cellular therapy means introducing new cells into tissue so as to activate the self-healing functions of the body and further build a complete and strong immune system with the aim of curing disease, maintaining health and youth. It shows great power in treating neurodegenerative disease, immunological diseases and diabetes, as well as playing a significant role in anti-aging and beauty spas.
Alongside the beautiful lakes, pastures and valleys of Switzerland are a wide range of medical centers, spas and holistic resorts. The Clinique La Prairie by the Lake Geneva is the precious pinnacle of wellness as the birthplace of cellular therapy. It has now turned into a comprehensive resort combining cutting-edge medical treats, a luxury spa and vacation facilities. There are over 50 certified doctors, 20 qualified therapists and a team of nutritionists. The accommodation is 5-star standard. The hottest program is the six-day cellular Revitalization Treatment despite its high price.
High on Mt. Pèlerin with spectacular views over Lake Geneva and terraced vine terraces of the Riviera, Le Mirador Kempinski is famous for its Bio-Molecular Vitality Cure, designed to boost energy. It is based on the principles of natural medicine and includes futuristic-sounding treatments like magnetic resonance therapy, bio-cellular injections and Oxithermie detoxification. Besides, there is also the Biophoton Treatment, meant to regenerate cells by stimulating targeted areas of the body with light.
Grand Resort Bad Ragaz, an elegant spa resort southeast of Zurich, uses the thermal spring that gushes from the nearby Termina Gorge. With three connected hotels, a Swiss Olympic Medical Centre, extensive wellness facilities and the first Swarovski crystal steam bath in the world, Bad Ragaz has everything a spa connoisseur could dream of, including a Stem Cell Therapy that targets the face and décolleté. The doctors separate the stem cells with centrifugal force from the customer’s own blood, add ingredients like vitamins and peptides, and then apply it to customer’s face using mesotherapy and a special oxygen brush so that the stem cells can go down into the new skin to boost cells renewal and collagen generation.
Germany – Organic Has Its Final Say
Well-known for an endless pursuit to quality, Germans also show great enthusiasm on “organic”, greater than other European neighbors. The word “organic” has penetrated all areas of their life from food and furniture all the way to skincare products. Industry data in 2018 shows that Germany’s market volume of organic cosmetics is listed top in Europe and continues to grow.
Unlike skincare brands in other countries which dare to label themselves organic when they have just a small quantity of plant additions with all the rest material manmade and chemical, Germany has a very strict certification system of skincare products. The true organic ones must be qualified by official authorities such as BDIH, Oeko-Test and dermatest. Then the label of the corresponding institute will be stamped on the package which is a guarantee of their organic and natural source and manufacturing process. After seeing this, you can safely use the products.
As the main force in the skincare market, the 1990s and 1980s generations particularly seek after organic products. Thankfully, there are plenty of options in Germany and most of them have decades of history.
Founded in 1929, Dr. Hauschka is one of the earliest organic skincare brands in the world, which gives it an unwavering position in Germany too. It selects medicinal plants from biodynamic or controlled organic farms to help the skin to nurture and renew itself. Product ranges cover skin care, make-up, bathing and more. Then there is Annemarie Borlind, a quite affordable cosmeceutical. The famous motto, “I don’t put anything on my skin that I can’t eat” in fact comes from the brand’s founder Ms. Annemarie Lindner. Other popular organic brands also include Eucerin, Krauterhof, WELEDA, Amala and more.
With the strong support from organic products, adding the natural resources of the country, there is no lack of amazing spas in Germany.
United Kingdom – Leading the European Anti-pollution Skincare
Noble, exquisite and superior are the words for Britain, which are also reflected in the beauty world. Many U.K. brands are symbols of cutting-edge technology and premium ingredients. The females here are savvy about everything good for their skin and face. It is in U.K. that essential oils were brought into the skincare field and the International Federation of Aromatherapy was founded in London. With a profound aromatherapy history and professionalism, aroma brands from Britain, such as Aromatherapy Associates, Crabtree & Evelyn, Shirley Price and Tisserand, are unfailingly the first choices of women worldwide.
Now, two new trends have overwhelmed the market. Firstly, supplement powders have taken off in a big way, with U.K. women now buying more health powders than serums. Supplements not only make people feel better and more energetic but they also affect the skin, hair and nails. They can work at much deeper levels where new cells are formed, something normal skincare products cannot do.
Another big trend is the rise of anti-pollution products. This special type was once an exclusive in Asia, especially in China. However, with the worsening environment, people in Europe are beginning to realize the harm that pollution can do to their skin. Britain takes the lead. In the second half of 2017, sales of anti-pollution prestige skincare products amounted to £3.1 million in U.K., with the anti-pollution face masks and moisturizers reporting the strongest growth. Many brands in the U.K. have launched anti-pollution ranges. For example, the natural organic brand REN has introduced a Multi-Mineral Pore Minimising Detox Mask. Rich in protein extracted from spirulina and essential fatty acid from black tea, the mask is highly effective in giving the face a deep cleanse and removing skin dullness and toxins resulting from pollution and radiation. Moreover, the mineral is powerful to clear away dust, particles and dead skin from the face. Zelens, another top brand in the U.K. has introduced Intense Defence Antioxidant Serum. With 18 active ingredients, the serum forms a protective film over the face against the free-radicals in the air and other pollutions, making the skin shine with brightness.
Italy – Natural Hot Springs
Italy features the largest number of natural thermal spa centres in the world. After all, this is the home of the ancient Roman baths.
Dormant volcanoes created the scenic beauty of Italy and the rejuvenating waters of the spas for which it is so well-known. This treasure chest of mineral and thermal waters draws health-conscious individuals, native and tourist, to the aesthetically designed spas and their proximity to cultural areas prolong the stay and turn it into a true resort experience. Spa visitors can experience the restorative powers of the hot springs and continue the process while communing with Nature afterwards as they bask in the natural element of the sun’s warmth surrounded by the natural beauty of cypress trees. Garden walks, special diets, mudpacks, beauty treatments and slimming and toning massages complement and enhance the spa experience.
Thanks to the magic powers of natural hotel springs, the spas in Italy have been used as an approach to improve national health. They not only provide relaxation, but also design treatments to address specific health conditions. For instance, special booths are available for the treatment of sinus conditions. A fine mist of thermal water is sprayed into the face of the sinus sufferer to help cure or, at the very least, alleviate some of the symptoms experienced by the individual. Furthermore, small cubicles or rooms are designed to deal with additional respiratory ailments, such as asthma.
In general, the restorative waters of the hot springs have temperatures ranging between 38°C and 43°C. Many of the spas include a water therapy using partitioned channels of water that undergo a series of successive temperature changes. As the individual walks through at a leisurely pace, the temperature changes to the water should restore the individual’s circulation to a beneficial level.
This area is also famous for its fangotherapy, which consists of placing radioactive mud poultices on the skin for 15 to 30 minutes, bathing the mud off in a mineral bath, and a bracing massage. Mud therapy is also good for arthritis and sports injuries, and may stimulate beta-endorphins – the body’s natural pain killers.
The popularity of Italian Spa Towns and natural hot springs (terme) is once again on the rise. Many of the traditional locations have been either building new facilities, or modernizing the still surviving spa palaces of the early 20th century. Many of these spa towns offer deluxe and standard hotel accommodations with their own unique setting of thermal provisions. In-house doctors and professionally-trained staff oversee the treatments that include indoor and outdoor thermal pools. Accommodation is further enhanced with the presence of walking trails, tennis courts and golf courses. Lounges, bars, and restaurants provide Italian as well as international cuisine.