PUREGRAY SPA located at THE MERCHANT HOUSE, Manama is the ultimate escapism from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. With the latest on-trend treatments and products adorning their menu pampering has never felt so indulgent.
The moment I walked into PureGray Spa, I felt an overwhelming sense of relief. Blame it on their knack for setting the mood at every corner or intricate cove of The Merchant house, but, from the low lighting, amazing decor and gentle instrumental background music, to the pleasant scent of essential oils, I knew I was in good hands.
Before beginning the treatment, my therapist Kitty sat me down to discuss the issues I was experiencing as she indulged me in their welcoming foot ritual with himalyan and citrus sea salt.. I walked her through the lifestyle changes I made, including how I spend most of my day hunched over a desk. After assessing my body she asked if I’d like to try ‘Gua Sha’, one of their signature treatments for muscle pain and tightening. Before I agreed to the therapy, she warned me that while it wouldn’t be painful, per se, it certainly wouldn’t be of the same ilk as lets say, their relaxing aromatherapy massage. Desperate for relief, I enthusiastically authorised the treatment – especially since I suffer from bad circulation. Since this technique has become a cult favourite in the industry due to its lymphatic drainage properties I didn’t hesitate for a second at trying out this particular Signature Ritual, aptly named ‘Awaken Facial & Body Guasha’. This was without a doubt, one of the best treatments of my life. I consider myself to have a fairly high pain tolerance, so I prefer a very deep massage, and this did not disappoint. I could actually feel her working the knots out of my back with her hands. But that was just the beginning. She retreated for a moment, returning with a tool that she began scraping up and down my back. ‘Gua’ means to scrape or scratch and ‘Sha’ means sand, because of the sha rash that can come up is like a sand-like texture right on the skin – although, it’s important to note that this is not invasive.
The sensation was unlike anything I have ever experienced before. I wouldn’t call it painful, but it was definitely intense, but productively so. I don’t think it’s a treatment that everyone will enjoy, but, hey, as a seasoned spa-goer I’m indeed hardcore. Kitty dug the tool into the muscles of my back, moving it around my shoulder blades and along my spine, applying pressure until the knots that built up over the past months dissolved. I felt better instantly. As she finished the body treatment, I asked to see this “magical” tool that offered so much relief. My therapist showed me a selection of smoothed quartz and I was amazed.
It’s an extremely effective, ancient technique that rivals injections and cosmetic surgery such as face lifts. For thousands of years, ‘Gua Sha’ — which is performed using a flat hand-held tool has been used in traditional Chinese medicine as a treatment for the body that relieves pain and provides an instant release of blocked energy, or ‘qi’ as it translates in Chinese culture. Following the Body Gua Sha, my therapist performed a Gua Sha Facial Massage to further lift and sculpt the skin, along with scalp work to melt tension and continue the lymphatic drainage.
‘Wow!’… The Facial Gua Sha is such a luxurious experience, performed using natural stones like jade stone and smoky quartz. The face requires a softer approach to the body follows the ‘meridians’ of the body – the foundation of traditional Chinese medicine.
When performed correctly, puffiness is instantly reduced and stagnation is dissolved, while the gentle glide and pull on the face tones muscles and firms the skin. Facial Gua Sha also repairs the skin’s natural hydration, sculpts the jawline and cheekbones, lifts facial contours, softens the forehead, brow and nasal labial lines, and carries away toxins that can lead to acne and blackheads. Plus, it releases tension around the eyes to lift and smooth lines, and stimulates the skin’s natural ability to heal. It’s also able to treat just about any skin condition, from cystic acne to rosacea and chronic dryness. This facial has now swiftly became my best friend for skin maintenance. Who wants their skin to be at its optimum state and looking several years younger? Me. You. Ahem…Everyone!
My therapist spent the first half of the facial relaxing my neck and shoulders and opening the lymphatic pathways with light massage and acupressure, focusing on removing blocked energy along the meridians. This is an essential component for healthy skin – it aids in the natural transportation of nutrients, igniting the skin’s innate healing ability.
The Gua Sha ritual is gentle, focusing on softening muscle hardness and the movement of lymph. The secret is working from the neck up to the forehead, freeing fluids to drain downward. Each stroke is done with intention and skill using multiple stones – using cold white jade stones to close the pores on my face. This marriage of technique is splendidly relaxing—our skin and nervous system are intricately connected, which is why stress has a huge influence on our skin.
This treatment hosted a vast selection of wonderfully scented botanical serums and moisturisers to aid hydration using products from Bahraini brand Green Bar.
The lady behind Green Bar is Reem al Khalifa who personally sources the best in luxury botanical oils for Green Bar. In fact, there’s an array of beautifully adventurous stories behind every Green Bar ingredient. She maintains a personal fascination with the origin of her ingredients, and works tirelessly to source them directly from the historical areas in which they grow, directly from the specialised natives who live and breathe growing them, to enable Green Bar users to embrace and relate to the product. Rich in history, precious oils have stood the test of time across a number of ancient cultures from around the world, from Morocco’s argan and Sudan’s sesame, to India’s coconut. Green Bar’s oils have taken a step back into history, creatively revamping, rebottling, and minimally refining what is the natural simplicity of traditional beauty, which complements the very ethos of The Merchant House and its homage to tradition. It is no wonder PureGray Spa has chosen this particular range, as well as Natura Bissé to adorn their treatment menu with all of the advantageous and natural properties that they both embody. It’s important to add that they also offer up some of Natura Bissé’s award-winning treatments from its Diamond Collection where they take beauty and skincare to thrilling new levels of luxury.
I must say that I was sad when the treatment was over, but all good things must come to an end. I left feeling like a new person—well, more like the same person but in a new body. Now, if only there were an ancient technique that could inspire me to hit the gym every day…
“Facial Gua Sha also repairs the skin’s natural hydration, sculpts the jawline and cheekbones, lifts facial contours, softens the forehead, brow and nasal labial lines, and carries away toxins that can lead to acne and blackheads.”