Massages by their very nature are meant to be de-stressing, but having tried and tested many, many treatments during the course of my career, I sadly know this isn't always the case. (One that sticks out in my mind is having my ribs massaged by a therapist's knuckles: as painful as it sounds).
Price points also don't guarantee a good time: I’ve had treatments costing above the £200 mark that didn’t have deliver half the benefits of a massage costing a fraction of that.
But if we operate on the basis that massages are meant to be relaxing, then surely a massage that is specifically designed to reduce or lower stress is the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow?
This is the premise of Aveda’s Stress-Fix massage: to leave you feeling like a melted pat of butter.
To test the treatment out properly, I waited until I knew a very stressful week was due. I headed to the flagship spa and shop on High Holborn, a place I used to work in as a Saturday girl (it was very surreal).
Even someone who isn’t an Aveda convert will acknowledge that the products – made from flowers and minerals - smell absolutely heavenly.
But while Aveda and I have a relationship going way back (and it sparked an interest in organic beauty products that I have to this day) it meant that expectation was high especially since this treatment is meant to 'clinically' reduce stress.
Before settling on the treatment bed, you start with your feet being washed (something that instantly soothes me no matter how much of a shitter of a day I’ve had).
Once snuggled inside the heated treatment bed, the therapist explains that relaxation and being stress-free aren’t necessarily the same goals.
“Okay…” I say warily. But then she explains that if all this was, was just a relaxing massage, then I’d feel the effects for about half an hour after leaving the salon and that would be that.
Stress-Fix doesn’t promise to find your cat or fix your relationship, but it can undo some of your knots that the stress causes and give you 60 minutes of uninterrupted quiet.
The treatment room at the Aveda spa
The technique used is a mixture of deep tissue massage which can be intense in places, reflexology (focusing on your feet) and Swedish massage to soothe the muscles afterwards. The latter is broad, sweeping movements while deep tissue aims to break up all those stiff muscles.
The treatment is also bespoke, so if you feel stress and tension in your neck, your therapist can focus on that, or if it’s your lower back then that will get more attention. Ultimately, any stress points you have, your able therapist will sniff them out and get to work; I found my therapist very intuitive.
A key component is also smell: Aveda’s strength is in its plant-based fragrances and Stress-Fix is actually a blended mix of lavender, lavandin and clary sage.
The massage finishes with a scalp massage (be prepared for oily locks), which after a bout of acupressure on the feet just about reduces me to a puddle of goo.
To say I was relaxed that evening was an understatement, but what I did realise in the days to follow was that although I did get stressed in the next few days, my muscles were a lot more malleable.
It didn't last of course, because real life has a way of crashing in. But I definitely did notice that the good effects of it lingered longer than normal and that's more than a normal massage has accomplished.
Stress Fix Massage is £89 for 75 minutes.