Color me de-stressed

Therapy: Different hues are said to affect physical and mental health.

April 25, 1999|By Megan Kennedy | Megan Kennedy,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

You've smelled the aromatherapy, heard the "sounds of nature" tapes and felt the prick of acupuncture. Now see this spring's version of holistic stress relief: color therapy.

Colored-clay massages and facials. Colored baths. Soothing colored light showers. Green to calm you, to work on your gall bladder and your oily skin. Red for energy and the heart. And so on.

The theory is this: According to the ancient Chinese Five Element Law, a strong relationship links people and their natural surroundings. Each of the five elements -- fire, earth, metal, water and wood -- corresponds to a season, a color, an emotion and an organ function. For optimal health, all five elements should be in balance.

Color therapy has evolved from this tradition, based on the premise that colors can influence one's physical and emotional well-being.

"Color itself presents energy," says Gloria Brennan, 56, aesthetician and proprietor of the Gloria Brennan Salon & Day Spa in Baltimore.

As part of her skin-care services, Brennan gives facials with the Ter Tonic Colored Clay Masks, made by the Boston-based Phytobiodermie company. Rooted in the Chinese Five Element Law, each of the five colored clays corresponds to a season, a reflex zone, an element and an aesthetic problem, the company says. For example, the red clay is associated with summer, and is believed to affect the heart and small intestine. Its element is fire and it treats excessive perspiration and sensitive skin, usually on the nose and upper lip. Green clay is intended to combat oily skin, and is applied to the temples and between the eyebrows. White clay is applied to the cheeks to moisturize, and black clay goes under the eyes to get rid of wrinkles, puffy skin and dark circles. Yellow is used on the cheekbones and under the chin to fight acne and blemishes. In the end, the client is covered in what appears to be war paint.

"By themselves, each color does a specific job," says Brennan. "Together they do more." Brennan has spent 25 years in the spa business, and is co-founder of the first full-service salon in Maryland.

"There isn't anyone who doesn't benefit from a facial," she says. "Everybody leads such a stressful life ... using the colored clays is like a little escape -- a little spascape."

Brennan's prices range from $30 to $55, and guests can buy a 3.5-ounce bottle of their favorite colored clay for $25.

Color therapy is making its way into Towson, too. In coming months, Brenda Morales, a 46-year-old massage therapist, acupuncturist and registered nurse at the Susquehanna Acupuncture & Ta Chi Center, is incorporating color into her practice: By shining colored lights onto particular parts of the body, Morales hopes to improve both her clients' overall health as well as their individual ailments.

"We're beings on Earth, and the sun is our source of energy; it just makes common sense to take rays of light into the body," she says.

Morales believes that even the color of your clothing can have a profound effect on your physical and mental well-being. She recommends wearing red or yellow for motivation and blue for relaxation.

If you have the bucks to really treat yourself, head to Phoenix: Just this month the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa introduced two new services to their repertoire: the Color Therapy Body Wrap and the Color Therapy Wellness Bath. Guests of the spa are evaluated by trained color therapists to determine which color is best suited for them.

For example, if you have poor circulation and want a body wrap, a massage therapist will cover you in red clays designed to simulate blood flow and strengthen physical energy. Blue clays are intended to bring tranquillity, while also treating ailments such as depression and insomnia, says Rainbow Power, the New York City-based clay distributor.

The wellness bath is more of the same: More than 80 water jets work to massage the body while liquid colors are poured into the bath. The spa floods the room with colored lights and chooses music that "coincides with the color" for the total effect. The 25-minute wellness bath costs $55; the body wrap lasts 50 minutes and costs $125.

Those interested in learning more about how to incorporate color into their daily beauty regimens might check out the Color Me Beautiful booth at the Baltimore Women's Show at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium between Friday and May 2. (Admission is $7.)

The Chantilly, Va.-based company, which introduced the concept of identifying yourself as a season -- winter, spring, summer or autumn -- based on your natural skin tone, eye and hair color, will offer attendees a color analysis, beauty make-over and a wardrobe wallet, featuring colors in their particular palette, for $20.

Pub Date: 04/25/99

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