Get ready for summer

In South Africa the sun is shining a little longer every day, telling you that it’s time to get ready for summer holidays, activities with family and friends and of course, swimsuit season. Some of us have gained a few extra kilograms over the winter; we’ve gotten out of shape, maybe lost our summer tan. Here are some useful tips that you can follow to look and feel great this season.



1. Get in shape

Yes, that means EXERCISE! We all have busy schedules, but just 40 minutes 2-3 times a week, alternating between cardio and weights are enough to stay fit and healthy. You don’t have to spend money on a gym membership or personal trainer. Walking/running around the block, swimming, or even gardening are just as effective, and don’t cost a cent! Not only does exercise help control your weight, it also improves your mood, boosts energy levels and combats health conditions and diseases.

2. Do not diet

That’s what it says. Diets can actually slow down your metabolism, which in turn will cause you to gain even more weight. When you lose weight by dieting alone, you also lose muscle mass. Instead, eat at least five to six small, healthy meals a day and include a lot of fibre in your diet. This will help your body burn fat most efficiently.

3. Stay Hydrated

Drinking water helps flush your system and as a bonus, it gets rid of excess salt and water weight, which keeps you from feeling bloated. Drink water regularly to avoid being dehydrated, as this can sap your energy levels, making you feel tired and dizzy.

Remember to apply sunscreen!

Remember to apply sunscreen!

4. Skin Care

Make sure to exfoliate regularly. Exfoliating gets rid of dead, rough skin cells- leaving your skin feeling soft and glowing! Make sure to stay moisturized – as summer weather can dry your skin, especially if you spend a lot of time in the sun. Wear sunscreen everyday! A broad-spectrum SPF 15-30 is fine on a regular day. Apply to ALL areas that will be exposed to the sun and re-apply every 2 hours, or after a swim. Tan responsibly! Avoid the sun during peak hours (10am-2pm). Apply a moisturizer every time after sun tanning- this will keep your skin soft and your tan will also last longer.

Hats can be a fashion statement!

Hats can be a fashion statement!

5. Treat hair

Repeated exposure to elements during the summer months can dry and damage your hair and its colour. Take precautions before you head outdoors- hats are great for offering protection and they can be fashionable as well. Hair needs to be treated more gently during the summer. Consider switching to a moisturizing, overall gentle shampoo. Give your hair a break from blowouts and embrace summer’s casual braids, ponytails and buns.

Whatever you choose to do this summer season, REMEMBER to look after your body and to have fun!!!



Reflexology is the application of appropriate pressure to specific points and areas on the hands, feet or ears. Reflexologists claim that a system of zones and reflex areas exist, reflecting an image of the body on the feet and hands, with the principle that work on these areas effects a physical change to the body. Through the application of pressure on these reflex zones, without the use of tools, creams or lotions, the feet being the primary area of application, reflexology reduces stress, relieves tension, improves circulation and the immune system and also helps promote the natural function of the related areas of the body.

Foot Reflexology

Foot Reflexology

To represent how the body systems correspond to one another, reflexologists use reflexology “maps.” A good example of a reflexology map exists for the feet. Each foot represents a vertical half of the body:

• The left foot corresponds to the left side of the body and all organs, valves, etc. found there.

• The right foot corresponds to the right side of the body and all organs found there. For example, the liver is on the right side of the body, and therefore the corresponding reflex area is on the right foot.

Reflexology foot map

Reflexology foot map

A reflexologist may perform a general, integrated session, or may focus on specific problem areas on the feet, hands or ears. For example, if time is limited and the person really needs to relax, the reflexologist may choose just to work on the ears. When points are found to be tender to pressure, they are worked upon for longer periods, in order to stimulate such an area. Whatever the approach, the reflexologist attempts to release congestion or stress in the nervous system and balance the body’s energy. The normal time it will take a practitioner to work on both feet would be an hour, but that would also depend on what is done for the client. A detailed medical history should be recorded during the first reflexology session.

When the reflexologist works on the feet, the sensations range from the feeling that something sharp is being pressed into the foot, to a dull ache, discomfort, tightness or just firm pressure. Sensitivity varies from person to person and also from treatment to treatment. As the treatment progresses, the tenderness should diminish as balance is restored in the problem areas. One body part is completed totally before moving on and both feet are treated alternatively in a smooth and even way. No matter what the sensations are like, Reflexology is always effective and should leave the client feeling light, tingly and pampered.

Reactions to a Reflexology treatment can differ…

People differ and so do reactions to a Reflexology treatment. On a whole, reactions immediately after a treatment are pleasant, leaving the clients relaxed, energised and rejuvenated. Reflexology activates the body’s own healing power and some form of a “bad” reaction is inevitable as the body rids itself of toxins. This is referred to as a “healing crisis” and forms part of the cleansing process. The response of toxins being released can manifest itself as increased darker and stronger-smelling urination, flatulence and more frequent bowel movements, aggravated skin conditions, increased mucous secretions, disrupted sleep patterns, dizziness, nausea, tiredness and headaches. Some clients may also become emotional and could have an overwhelming desire to weep.

Working on pressure points

Working on pressure points

Reflexologists never diagnose diseases, prescribe or adjust medication. They do not treat specific diseases, although by bringing the body back to a state of balance, Reflexology helps to eliminate problems caused by disease. Tender reflexes indicate which parts of the body are congested. It is important to be aware that this “diagnosis” merely indicates which parts of the body are congested, not specifically named disorders.

We offer reflexology treatments here at the African Health Spa. so do yourself a favour and book a treatment when you visit us in the bush!


Face the organic way forward

In this day and age we are becoming more and more obsessed with organic products. Organic food is all the rage, and now organic beauty products are also taking centre stage. So just how good are these products for us and are they really that much different from ordinary products?

Organic Facials

Organic Facials

Organic skin care is the safest and according to me, the most ideal products for your family’s skin care routine. Infants and children have exceptionally sensitive skin and taking care what you put on their skin could help avoid a number of problems down the road. Many ordinary products contain chemicals such as alcohol and lead. Alcohol is extremely drying on the skin and it can cause many problems for those with sensitive skin. So it is easy to see why natural or organic products are becoming very popular. Organic products are made from natural ingredients and are often really good for those who need a product that is gentle enough    for sensitive skin. Along these lines, they are also good for children and those who are trying to stay away from additives, dyes, preservatives and fragrances. These ingredients are grown without the use of pesticides, herbicides, synthetic fertilizers, GMO etc.  and often come with an Organic certification. The integrity of these unadulterated ingredients is maintained in the best way possible with little to no additives. From here the best ingredients for the specific goal are chosen and a natural preservative system  is used for longevity.

Organic skincare ingredients work with the sophisticated natural systems of your skin. Given the right nutrients, our skin has the ability to care for and mend itself. Our bodies use nutrients absorbed not only through food, but also through the skin. It is medically understood that what goes on your skin absorbs into your bloodstream and is carried through your body.

There are increasing studies showing the connection between illness and chemicals. We need to eliminate or reduce exposure to synthetics. Synthetics are simply not necessary in skincare and in many cases synthetics are downright scary. These ingredients are often fast acting and invasive. Sometimes they are causing harm we cannot see. Often this exposure rears its ugly head as skin irritation, chronic headaches, cancers, breathing disabilities, hormone disruption, etc.

We have a wonderful new skin care product at the Elephant Plains Health Spa called ESSE. Esse is certified organic by Ecocert France. The entire range is manufactured in a certified organic facility. Esse is accredited by PhytoTrade Africa and supports the Fair Trade movement. This ensures that the raw materials that are used are sourced and purchased from local co-operatives to uplift and empower rural communities. Esse is endorsed by Beauty Without Cruelty and indorsed by the Vegan Society.

Esse is a local product which uses wild sourced African plants that offer excellent free-radical protection. In addition, the unique natural preservative system ensures the products are biodegradable and free of parabens, petrochemicals, synthetic fragrance and synthetic colourants. These products are also packaged in recycled glass.

So next time you come to visit us, treat yourself to a tranquil organic facial at the African Health Spa!



Pregnancy Massage

Therapeutic massage has been used for centuries to improve overall health, reduce stress and relieve muscle tension. While a woman is pregnant her body undergoes numerous changes physically, as well as physiologically and spiritually. The physical changes can cause stress and/or discomfort to the mother. Massage is a wonderful way to help alleviate many of these discomforts, as well as to promote a sense of well-being.

Massage and pregnancy has often received ambivalent responses from the health community regarding the safety and purpose of massage during pregnancy. Modern investigation and research is proving that prenatal massage therapy can be a very instrumental ingredient in women’s prenatal care and should be given careful consideration.

Pregnancy massage is a catch-all term for any hands-on massage during or after pregnancy (prenatal or postnatal massage). This includes anything from a full body Swedish massage to light massage work that might include other modalities such as circulatory work, reflexology or cranial sacral therapy. Most massage therapists are trained, not only to do massage, but various other modalities as well.

Relax during your pregnancy with a pregnancy massage

Relax during your pregnancy with a pregnancy massage

A pregnancy massage typically lasts an hour. Some practitioners use a pregnancy massage table. That’s a table designed to accommodate a woman’s pregnant belly. Others use specially designed pillows called bolsters to position a woman comfortably on her side. This helps especially during the later stages of pregnancy. Lying on your side is often the most comfortable position at this stage.

Here are some of the benefits that a mother may experience during and after a pregnancy massage:

  • Reduction of swelling in hands, feet and ankles
  • Less sciatic pain
  • Ease in muscular discomforts in areas like the low back & neck, calf cramps. It also helps with tension and tightening that can be experienced throughout the body
  • Tone of loose muscles, relaxing of tense muscles and can help increase flexibility.
  • Help with relaxation which in turn can decrease insomnia
  • Increase of blood and lymph flow, which can help increase the elimination of toxins through the circulatory and lymphatic systems. This can also help with fatigue.
  • Increase of oxygen in the blood, sometimes on up to 10-15% after a massage.
  • Strengthening of the immune system
  • Stimulating the release of endorphins, the body’s natural pain killers, into the brain and nervous system.
  • Help in relieve anxiety or depression
  • Help increase blood circulation, which in turn delivers more oxygen and nutrients to the mother and baby.
Comfortable side position during pregnancy massage

Comfortable side position during pregnancy massage

Risks of Prenatal Massage are relatively few and some of these risks that are talked about can be misconceptions. The real risks are:

  • Dizziness and nausea
  • Untrained therapists causing injury
  • Too deep massage of back or abdomen causing spotting or cramping
  • Inducing labor
  • Creating, instead of relieving, muscle soreness

For the most part all of these side effects can be avoided, as long as the therapist knows what he or she is doing. Nausea and dizziness can occur after any massage and are not uncommon during pregnancy. Avoid eating immediately before a massage and get up carefully to avoid dizziness. Muscle soreness is generally the result of not getting enough fluids after a massage. Drink a lot of water in the first two hours after a massage to prevent this.

The biggest misconception is that massage in the first trimester can cause a miscarriage. Miscarriages in the first trimester are unfortunately quite common. There is no evidence that any miscarriage has ever been caused by massage or reflexology.

Pre-term births and low birth weight are among the most recognized effects of maternal stress during pregnancy. It is therefore important to eliminate as much stress as possible to have a healthy and happy pregnancy. Massage is an excellent technique to relax and de-stress.

Stay radiant during winter time

Summer time is great! Your skin feels supple and alive. But as winter approaches, your skin can easily become dry and start feeling itchy.

You must take care of your skin during winter season in order for it to look glamorous and attractive. The cold months may be pleasant for many of us, but at the same time it demands a special type of pampering for this outer layer of our bodies, which tends to become dry and crack during winter time.

Therefore going the extra mile to pamper the skin with moisturisers and emollients is imperative.

Winter time


1. Moisturise your skin generously. Replace your water-based products with creams. And besides facial skin, also apply cream to your hands, elbows and feet. Look out for vitamin E enriched products. This will prevent itchiness and loss of water content from the skin.

2. “The top layer of skin cells are either dead or old and can easily make your skin look dull,” says Doctor Norman. Exfoliating gets rid of the dead skin cells and reveals newer, healthier-looking skin.

3. Avoid prolonged baths, hot showers and the use of harsh soaps. These will take away the natural moisture from your skin.

4. Winter sun can still damage your skin. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen to your face and hands (if they are exposed) about 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply frequently if you stay outdoors for an extended time.

5. Don’t lick… your lips. If you do, you’ll only chap your lips even further. Keep a lip balm in your purse and apply it when you’re tempted!


Mask yourself

Mask yourself


Avocado/Honey Mask

To make this ultra hydrating mask, mash a ripe avocado into a creamy pulp and stir in a tablespoon of organic honey. Massage the mask onto your face using your fingertips and allow it to set for 15 minutes. Rinse away with warm water and repeat weekly for best results.

These winter tips are not only excellent for keeping your skin glowing through the cold months, but will also be beneficial for whatever season you are entering.

And remember to always keep hydrated – drink plenty of water!!!


Fundamental Foundation

A worldwide study done by Estee Lauder showed that 8 out of 10 women wear the wrong shade of foundation. Furthermore, the majority of these women use the same shade all year round…

It is important to understand what foundation is supposed to be used for, in order for you to make the right decision. It is not for adding colour, but to enhance your natural beauty by reducing, not concealing, the appearance of fine lines and blemishes, evening out your skin tone. To get that warm, young looking face rather use highlighters and bronzers on a well prepared surface -perfect foundation!



How to choose the best foundation?

1. The colour must match your skin 100%, test it on your face as the skin tone on the rest of your body differ slightly. Remember that a lighter colour will make you look like a ghost and a darker colour will age you. It is therefore important to have different foundations during different seasons as your skin colour changes.

2. Choose the right product for firstly your skin type and secondly your lifestyle.

• Powder foundation: It is fast and easy to apply and is there for a great favourite across the board. Unfortunately it is only the oilier skin types that benefit from this foundation. The powder is oil-absorbent and provides a matte appearance that compliments oily skin, but takes away from the dryer more mature skin types.

Useful tip: as most powder foundations on the market make you look flat and matte, leaving a gray or orange cast to the skin look for products that have a percentage of titanium dioxide and/or zinc in them. Also look to see that any harmful ingredients have been removed.

• Tinted moisturizer: A mixture of moisturizer and light foundation. Equally easy and fast to apply, this foundation is used to even out skin tone on clear, blemish free skin. Suitable for most skin types. It is my favorite!

• BB Creams: It is a multi-tasking product combining your moisturizer, primer, foundation and sunscreen all in one. The reality, it’s a fancy form of tinted moisturizer and would work for the same client base. Really great for a fast pace life style!

• Liquid foundation: Offering the best cover this base is widely misused. As mentioned before foundation should be used to reduce the appearance of fine lines and blemishes, not to conceal it. Best suited for dry and/or mature skin, it offers more hydration and nutrients.

Useful tip: Taking up more time to apply, focus on blending! It is very easy to end up with a “mask” look when using a liquid foundation. My advice is to start applying under the eye and around the nose and work your way outwards without re-applying. This way the foundation starts to thin out around the jaw, leaving you with a natural look.

At the end of the day you must pass the “self-test”. If you look at your skin in direct sunlight it must not shimmer, not be blotchy and most importantly have an even, one-tone appearance.

Good luck and put your best face forward!