Lava shells are all the rage among London’s ladies that spa, as an in-the-know alternative to hot stone massage.
Since the treatment first start appearing in UK spas around a decade ago, celebrity converts include Ellie Goulding, Pixie Lott and Made in Chelsea’s Millie Mackintosh.
I headed to Salon Savant, a smart new day spa a stone’s throw south of Kings Cross, to try it out for myself.
Luckily, I was in the hands of an expert – my therapist, Vanessa, is a top “Lava Angel”, training other massage therapists on the technique on behalf of Shared Beauty Secrets, the official UK distributor of Lava Shells.
She starts by asking what I know about the lava shells treatment. I make a vague comment about once having a hot stone massage, leaving out the fact that my overriding sensation had not been of relaxation, but of the jarring noise of stones being dragged in and out of a bowl.
No such fear with lava shells, thanks to an ingenious self-heating system that heats the shells with a gentle natural reaction . A sachet of saltwater is poured over a “teabag” of minerals placed into the hollow shell, creating a chemical reaction which generates heat.
I am then invited to choose from a selection of Kokolokahi body oils (also distributed by Shared Beauty Secrets). I opt for Strength, whose scent is a blend of sandalwood, patchouli and frangipane.
Once I am lying comfortably, the treatment begins. Newcomers to lava shell massage will notice that, instead of placing the shells on the body as in a hot stone massage, the therapist then uses them as an extension of their hand.
If you picture the shape of a closed shell – a flat, firm surface with a narrow edge at one end and a rounded nub at the other – you can see how it perfectly complements the shape of a human hand.
Vanessa uses the shells to give a nuanced and complex massage that is unlike anything I have experienced before, unravelling even the tiniest knots with smooth, seemingly effortless strokes which induce an intense feeling of relaxation.
If that sounds like just what the doctor ordered, you can find the spas, salons and therapists offering lava shells treatments in your area on the Shared Beauty Secrets website.