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Hot lava shells — and hot tips for looking fab!

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Winter is all about bundling up, right?  Lots of scarves, gloves, thick tights.  I quite like it, to be honest.  Takes the pressure off a bit, and those lumps and bumps can be blamed on scrunched-up layers rather than on a complete lack of restraint regarding the biscuit tin.


And with all these frosty mornings and rainy days mean that anything with ‘hot’ in the name immediately has my undivided attention: hot chocolate, hot toddy, hot date – I’m there.  I’d never tried a hot lava shell massage before, so I booked in for a full body one at the Lavender and Stone beauty rooms right on Southdown Road in a lovely corner of Harpenden.  It’s one of their two salons in Herts – the other is in Bushey Heath – and there are two in Bucks as well.


The Harpenden salon is on the tiny side, but they have a summerhouse at the back where they do massage and other treatments.  It’s a lovely little eight-sided building, and going in felt a bit like stepping into a warm bath.  It was a freezing cold afternoon, but the fab thing about beauty salons is that they always feel warmer than a tropical beach.

For me, the lava shells straight away have the advantage over hot stones when it comes to massage – and hot stones used to be my favourite ever.  For a start they’re prettier.  And, more importantly, they retain their heat so there’s no stopping and starting.  The herbs and minerals used inside the shells also smelt gorgeous, so everything became a sort of warm fuzzy glow before too long.

I like really strong pressure for a massage, and was a bit worried about how the shells might feel with that – but they were so smooth that it was all very comfortable.  I did get a bit ticklish round my knees, but I think that’s probably just me.  Well, that and the fact that my knees don’t get massaged very often.

Of course, peeling off all those layers for a massage means that wintery skin is unceremoniously thrust into the light again – along with all those hairy bits that you’ve been letting grow because, well, who sees them?  And with the Christmas party season just round the corner – well, right here – this seemed like it needed some work.


Anna Nickless

In an attempt to spruce up (rather than just cover up), I turned to Anna Nickless, owner of the four Lavender and Stone beauty salons.  She had some great advice so, with any luck, I should be more glamour puss than furry old cat by the time I have to squeeze into that little black dress.  I’m sure it was bigger last year, but hey ho.

So, here goes.  Lavender and Stone’s top tips for slinking through the Christmas party season in smooth and relaxed loveliness….

Scrub up!

A gentle body scrub in the shower every morning will stimulate your circulation (always good when it’s chilly outside) and drainage, which will brighten your skin and help anything you’re putting onto your skin – moisturizer, fake tan, cellulite cream – absorb more quickly and easily.

If you’re feeling brave, a blast of cold water over your thighs and bum just before you get out the shower will shock your muscles into tightening up so everything looks that bit firmer.  Just try not to squeal too loudly when you do it.

Find your glow

You want a gorgeous natural glow, right?  Drinking 2 litres of water every day – preferably at room temperature – will help flush out any nasties that are making your skin look dull.  (Yes, we all know we should be doing it – but are you?  Honestly?)


If you’re not already body-scrubbing every morning, be sure to exfoliate once or twice a week and you should end up with lovely luminous skin.  Failing that, book in for a fake tan from a proper professional.  Time it right, though – aim for two days before the party so you’ll be looking at your best.

Lose the fuzz

Yes, it’s easy to ease up on waxing when everything’s covered up in winter, but not so great when you’re getting your legs out for that LBD.  Waxing works best if you do it a couple of days in advance of the party – then any redness will have calmed down and you’ll be looking smooth and silky.

If there are any stray hairs on the day that need plucking out, lay a hot facecloth over the area first and they’ll come out a lot more easily – and you should avoid any nasty red marks.


Remember your feet

It’s all too easy to remember your fingernails – but forget about your feet.  If you’re wearing open shoes, or if you’ll be kicking off your heels to hit the dance floor, then they’ll be on show.  And if you’re dancing the night away, they might need a little TLC afterwards, too.  Book your pedicure along with your manicure, and then you’ll be all sorted.

And relax….

Which takes us back nicely to the hot lava shell massage.

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