It used to be that aromatherapy massage was considered "exotic" and European facials were "fancy." Today, you'd be hard-pressed to find a wellness or beauty treatment that doesn't involve a futuristic-sounding gadget or ancient ritual, reinterpreted for our fast-paced lives. They may sound wacky but these five intriguing services are definitely worth exploring:
An ancient healing method traced back to the Egyptians and Chinese, cupping or "fire cupping" is usually used in conjunction with acupuncture or massage to treat sore muscles and stubborn injuries. Bubble-like glass cups are heated with the flame from lit alcohol-soaked cotton balls then applied to the skin, forming an airtight seal. As the air inside the cup cools, it creates suction that draws blood to the treatment area. The increased circulation and chi, or energy, oxygenates and helps heal the affected muscles. Although the (temporary) red welts that cupping leaves behind suggest a form of torture, it's actually surprisingly painless. $110 for 60 min.; Lake Pointe Chiropractic and Wellness, 5000 W. 36th St., Suite 120, Mpls., 612-922-8100, lpwellness.com.
Before there were decongestants and energy drinks, there were baths. For centuries, Asians and Europeans have relied on hydrotherapy to restore well-being and treat various ailments. Inspired by these time-honored traditions, Fusion LifeSpa in Deephaven recently introduced a series of curative baths. The 30-minute, self-guided soaks combine essential oils, colored water (chromatherapy), and alternating hot and cold temperatures to alleviate the usual subjects: fatigue, jet lag, stress, bloating and the common cold. The fact that Fusion takes same-day appointments means relief is imminent. $60 each, Fusion LifeSpa, 18142 Minnetonka Blvd, Deephaven, 952-345-3335, fusionlifespa.com.
"Everyone is so in their head," says Spot Spa owner Nell Rueckl. "This ritual makes you feel more in your body." One of the Twin Cities' most sought-after body workers, Rueckl developed the Grounding Treatment to help her clients feel literally more grounded. The focus on feet -- first with an aromatic soak and salt scrub, then a full 15 minutes of reflexology -- relieves tension and increases awareness from head to toe. Lying between a "stone blanket" of warm basalt rocks further creates a sense of calm and consciousness. $60 for 60 min., Spot Spa, two Minneapolis locations including Northeast (612-331-4182) and Uptown (612-823-7767); spotspas.com.
Originally developed in the late 1980s to treat paralyzed muscles in Bell's palsy patients, microcurrent technology gained buzz-worthy status when doctors discovered its ability to smooth fine lines and tighten the skin. Turns out that low-level electricity increases circulation and triggers collagen and elastin production, resulting in a facelift effect. Unlike shock therapy, you won't feel much more than static electricity when the aesthetician moves two wand-like devices over your face. The results are visible after one treatment and last up to 72 hours. With a series of treatments and regular maintenance it's possible to prolong the benefits. From $95 with packages available; Thomas Charles Salon, 4008 Minnetonka Blvd., Minneapolis, 952-925-4277, thomascharlessalon.com.
Inspired by a Lakota American Indian healing practice of sweeping a feather upwards along the spine, Raindrop Therapy combines massage, aromatherapy and reflexology to renew and energize the body. During this sensory experience, nine therapeutic essential oils selected for their ability to flush out toxins, destroy bacteria and promote healing are dropped along the feet and spine. Each essential oil is then gently massaged into the skin using a practically hypnotic feathering technique. Raindrop Therapy recipients often report an out-of-body experience or natural high from the treatment, followed by relief from sore muscles, fatigue and cold and flu symptoms. $85 for 60 min. at Sara Mattson Skin Therapy, 6420 W Lake St., Mpls, 612-922-1511, saraskin.com.
Minneapolis-based lifestyle writer Elizabeth Dehn is the founder of BeautyBets.com.