For the celebrity favorite Los Angeles day spa Ole Henriksen, healing people and the planet are interconnected.
As I stepped inside the Ole Henriksen Spa for an afternoon of treatments, I struggled to remember my last day of self-care. Since covid, I’d had precisely one massage—last summer when my dad backed out of the massage I booked for his birthday. Like most people, we played it pretty safe over the last two years, staying home or sticking with outdoor events. So a massage seemed out of the question. But now, double-vaxxed and knowing spas like Ole Henriksen have their covid protocols down to a science, I felt safe enough to spend a few hours there.
Like any good spa, Ole Henriksen makes you feel relaxed almost immediately. It’s no wonder it’s a favorite for celebrities including Vanessa Hudgens, Kris Jenner, and Malin Ackerman. Even though it sits in the heart of the busy West Hollywood strip, you feel a million miles away from anything; there is calming music piped throughout the facilities, aromatherapeutic scents waft through the air, and the guest services team speaks in calm, metered tones as they offer tea and slippers.
The importance of self-care
“We believe more than ever self-care has become even more relevant,” spa owner Vance Soto told me via email after my visit. And he emphasizes that these days, there’s no excuse for avoiding it as self-care comes in so many forms whether it’s your local spa or a spa night at home.
“Taking time for yourself is essential to both your mental and physical well-being. Spa is no longer a luxury,” Soto says. He says it is “actually a necessity.”
According to Soto, even if you’re just putting your phone down for an hour, it makes a difference. “In a world where we are expected to be constantly on and producing, why not demand self-care?” he asks.
I started my (phone-free!) day with a relaxing Moroccan-inspired bath. I hadn’t had a good soak like that in ages. Hot springs are my absolute favorite—I used to plan vacations around them, once upon a time—but parenting and covid put a halt to that. While not a hot spring, this soak sure put me in that same mindset. The candlelit room made me feel like I was out floating under the stars. I could make the bath as hot as I wanted (and I wanted). There were treats and even Champagne for an elevated experience (I stuck with water and tea though). It was divine.
Next, I enjoyed my second massage in covid times. I was so blissed out that I didn’t even notice the mask I was wearing. Soto says massages and facials need to be part of our health regime, and as the masseuse generously worked the bowling-ball-sized stress out of my back and neck, I couldn’t have agreed more.
I get so caught up in trying to make the world a better place that I often forget how important my personal wellness is. I know I’m not alone in this mindset. How many of us keep burning the candle at both ends, with our own health as the casualty? What’s the point of trying to fix the planet if we just run ourselves to the ground trying to do that?
Soto tries his best to connect the dots here. Everything in the spa—from the services to the waiting room—is nature-inspired. That’s because so many of the spa’s treatments are nature-based. One way Ole Henriksen reminds its customers that these lines are intentional is that it plants 50 trees for every Return to Nature massage it gives. The more we care for ourselves, the better we can care for the planet, right? And when the planet is healthier, so are we.
That was never more clear than in the oxygen facial I finished my afternoon with. I have pretty sensitive skin to begin with but environmental stressors like LA’s pollution-filled air can make it even worse. Not to mention those masks we’ve all been living in for what seems like an eternity.
“The VSOTO Oxygen Facials are amazing for creating a bacteria-free environment, plumping, and nurturing the skin,” Soto says. “Based on your skin type and goals we pick one of four proprietary infusion serums from the VSOTO skincare brand. Oxygen is a fantastic service for all skin types as it’s extremely calming and nurturing yet very results-driven. You see immediate results which is why you see so many big names receiving this type of service before a big event. If you want that red carpet glow but are worried about being too invasive before your big day it’s a great option.”
The oxygen facial helps to deliver vitamins and antioxidants to the skin with the help of pure oxygen. Because it also helps to create a bacteria-free environment, it can help reduce breakouts (hello, maskne), and it promotes skin renewal and collagen production.
Soto says the formulations—which bear his name—use “the perfect blend” of essential oils, antioxidants, and vitamins. Essential oils such as lavender, chamomile, and rose, have a history of use in skincare. The products are also rich in hyaluronic acid, peptides, and vitamin E, Soto says.
I felt completely renewed and refreshed. And, even, a little guilty it had taken me so long to give myself this day of self-care. I won’t make that mistake again, not with Ole Henriksen just a few minutes away.
“You can’t be good to everyone else unless you’re good to yourself,” Soto says. “You deserve the best version of you.”
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