Make a woman feel beautiful and she is happy (?) – Part 2

Here is the second part of my recap of latest beauty research, if you didn’t read last weeks post take a look at that one first!


What about all the celebrity endorsement we see everywhere? According to McCann, celebrities increase sales as consumers like the aspiration of a dream and fantasy.

Their research shows that the majority of women around the world still feel either positive or inspired when they look at pictures of beautiful celebrities, and this is particularly pronounced in China (76%) and Mexico (75%). Very few women stipulated that celebrities make them feel depressed or angry.

However, 90% of women globally want the celebrities used in beauty adverts to be famous for something in addition to their looks. 86% of women say that in beauty advertising they like to see a naturally beautiful woman with a few lines on her face.


Research also shows that women want to touch and test products so having them easily accessible and displayed beautifully will encourage sales more than having them behind a class cabinet. Note this you spas with retail displayes behind glassed in areas!

If brands are to achieve an emotional connection with women, they must understand and reflect the role that beauty plays in women’s lives. This new research provides a great insight into ideas that perhaps can help spas become even more successful.

Thanks McCann Group for this great research and also Euromonitor!



Yoga in in school – banned??

The Swedish school inspection will take a decision about if yoga should be permitted or banned at school. A notification has been sent to the school inspectorate who argues that yoga is a religious element and wants to ban the practice based on that argument.

A petition has been created and Swedish people are now signing up to keep the possibility to practice Yoga in Swedish schools.

Being a part of the Wellness Industry and experiencing the increase of interest in Body Mind based movement forms and seeing their benefits on physical, mental and emotional wellbeing the discussion just seem so backward.

The creator of the petition states the following reasons of keeping and developing the practice of Yoga in school and I felt that this is an important cause to support.

Yoga is not a religious element. On the contrary, there are many advantages for children to do yoga in the schools. In addition to affecting their learning positively, it can also increase the children’s awareness, self-esteem, desire to take care of herself, calm, discipline, concentration, interest to talk about life, sense of community, strength, flexibility, focus, presence, efficiency of biochemical processes in the body, awareness, respect for other people and nature as well as empathetic/sympathetic ability.




Tried every diet but still cannot lose weight….this might be the cause.

Have you tried every diet there is including LCHF or the Paleo-diet but still cannot lose weight? Toxins may be the answer. It is well known that toxic chemicals may reduce the reproductive capacity and increase the risk for cancer. What is less known is that the ability to lose weight can be severely reduced by toxic chemicals. Weight loss due to chemicals can become difficult since toxins can interfere with the part of the hormonal system that regulates metabolism. Toxins can also damage fat cells and contribute to increased intoxication syndrome during weight loss since toxins accumulates in fat tissue. In 1982 and 1987, the Environmental Protection Agency did adipose (fat) tissue samples throughout the U.S. 100 % of the samples had solvents and dioxins, 83 % of the samples had PCBs. The Environmental Protection Agency also identified nine other harmful toxins in 90% of the samples.

The toxins send signals to genes in fat cells to generate new fat cells. These new fat cells are often damaged and cannot create the hormone leptin, which is needed for weight loss. Also the risk of type 2 diabetes increases. Toxins can also increase inflammation in the body. Several studies have shown that the toxin PCB increase the risk of diabetes for instance. In addition, toxins affect the thyroid gland which is in charge of the body’s metabolism which will affect weight loss. If you are exposed to these toxins during pregnancy or while breast-feeding, your child’s health can be seriously affected and the risk that your child will be overweight in the future increases. The toxins’ negative effects on the thyroid, can also affect the child’s brain development by the way. Another problem with weight loss is that toxins are released into the blood stream when you lose weight. A study shows that a 12% reduction in body mass increases the number of toxins by about 25-50 % in the blood stream.

What should you do? Do not ever get into Jojo dieting! Instead have a long term and healthy approach to weight loss based on the Paleo-diet. Also have sufficient levels of antioxidants, quercetin and vitamin D that will help with detoxification and simultaneously protect the liver, brain and adipose tissue during your weight loss period. Examples of detoxifying and protective substances are silymarin, alpha lipoic acid, chlorella, vitamin C and vitamin E complex (Vitamin must always have alpha, beta, gamma, delta tocopherols as well as alpha, beta, gamma, delta tocotrienol – look for the brand Innate Response). You should of course not adding more toxins, ie eat organic food, breathe fresh air, drink clean water and avoid unhealthy chemicals in your household and on your skin.


PS. Note that all that you put on your skin will also get into your blood stream and reach all organs in the body. Toxic skin care = toxins in the body. This is one reason why we, at Raison d’Etre, always recommend natural organic skin care to all our clients. In our own spa, Nordic Spa & Fitness in Grand Hôtel in Stockholm, Sweden, we not only sell organic and natural skin care the spa shop, we even have handmade 100 % organic and natural shampoo, conditioner, body wash and face wash in all showers in the wet areas…we take spa, fitness and health seriously.

Based on the article:

Rolfing – Structural Integration

During the spring I started to take Rolfing sessions in Stockholm, the sessions with Runa Gustavsson (the Rolfer) started deep structural changes in my body and gave me insights and another perception of what a healthy and strong body feels and look like, it became more important for me to strive to use my body biomechanically correct giving freedom, grace and fluidity to movement.

The common workout is focused on building strength and cardiovascular capacity and sometimes when looking at people and myself working out it become very evident that we all need to adjust our alignment to be able to release the power and grace that is our birth right.

Runa spent a lot of time working on connective tissue in my neck and shoulder area on my right side resulting in a deep release of old tensions related to an accident some years ago.  My arms movements are more connected to back and chest muscles now and it is easier to keep stability in reaching, pulling and holding objects or when moving in life.

Rolfing is a physically applied practice, administered by a qualified practitioner, typically in a series of ten sessions with the objective of maximizing individual wellbeing of body and mind.

It was Dr. Rolf’s theory that the cause of human discomfort, both physical and emotional may lie in our internal connective tissue and the relationship it has with the earth’s gravitational field.

There is, she argued, an optimal, more natural alignment for each of us – an easier interaction between self and gravity. When through external factors this alignment is lost, it causes internal stress that can result in real discomfort. Prevent or correct the misalignment and you may eliminate or limit the stress. This is at the heart of Rolfing.Linking all internal structures within the human frame is the fascial web. This plastic connective tissue unites the structure of the inner form and divides its individual functioning units.

Fascia is constantly changing and adapting in response to demands placed on an individual’s body. It reacts to particular physical damage – to a joint for example – by producing extra material to enhance stability and support. However, it can produce  more than is necessary. In time, rather than stabilizing movement it can actually reduce mobility, leading to a changed postural position and altered patterns of movement

After completing ten sessions with a Certified Rolfer™ a client can expect to experience a greater sense of allover freedom. Better posture and improved movement can be expected. An enhanced understanding of how the body operates in harmony with gravity will be developed through the sessions. This new comprehension of the self can then be taken forward by the client and further experienced as a process of lifelong learning.


What is S.O.S?

We have witnessed over many years and have heard from so many hotel managers and owners asking us:

  • Why is our spa not performing?
  • Why is our spa not making any money?
  • Is our spa meeting the needs of our guests and the market?
  • Why is our spa getting so many complaints?
  • Why does our spa sell so few retail products?
  • Where can I find a competent spa manager?

Raison d’Etre has addressed this with the implementation of Spa Operational Support (S.O.S.), where various types of operational support will be offered, including recruitment, audits, trouble shooting, revenue & profit maximisation, product consultation and training.  You could also translate the S.O.S to ‘SAVE OUR SPA’ !!

Spa Management Recruitment

Raison d’Etre has been involved in spa management recruitment for many of its clients.  When you have over 12 years of spa management and operational experience this translates into being able to achieve extraordinary recruitment results for our clients.

We provide tailor made recruitment solutions for any spa’s specific needs.  Every spa is different, the size, country, culture, business environment and each requires a very specific skill set from the spa management.  We recognize this and we tailor each spa management position specifically for the needs of the particular spa and the owners/hotel management.

We offer permanent spa management placements as well as offering short term solutions for spas. The short term solution will be handy when the spa is in urgent need of a replacement for a shorter period of time, due to maternity leave or any other reason, and we can then help to fill that gap, ensuring a continuous smooth operation of the spa.

We know just how critical good spa management is to the ongoing success of a spa. We operate, own, consult and recruit to spa businesses and this makes us very qualified to successfully recruit any future spa manager.

Spa Troubleshooting & Enhancement

Over the past 12 years we have developed an amazing, proven trouble shooting package which has positively turned around a number of spas, thus quickly recovering the cost of the package. Our proven Spa Audits assess all aspects of the spa operation including guest experience, quality, facilities, management, KPI’s and finance resulting in a detailed report and recommendations. These recommendations are then translated into actions and our experienced staff come on site and implement these actions.

So often we have seen or heard of a spa in trouble and needs a total overhaul or just some minor, yet important improvements, our proven systems and standards ensure success. In every case we have achieved increased revenue of between 30 % and 125 %.

Spa Audits

We firmly believe that an independent mystery spa audit can be extremely helpful in not only revealing shortcomings and missed opportunities in a spa, but to also acknowledge what is working successfully.

Our spa audit is the most comprehensive spa specific auditing system in the world.  This proven system allows us to assess every aspect of the spas operation from which we compile a detailed Audit Report, compete with a detailed action plan for improvements.

We analyse the market regularly, and are sensitive to guests’ needs as they change and develop.  Spa guests are becoming more and more discerning. Our market knowledge, skill and experience enable us to anticipate trends.  In exceeding expectations, we create more reasons for guests to return and recommend the spa to others.

At the completion of the spa audit visit we will present a detailed Spa Audit Report, complete with detailed feedback on results and findings, analysis of KPI’s, detailed Action Plan and our recommendations. Many hotels utilise independent operators to compile mystery shoppers, but none offer the spa specific detail which we do and certainly none offer an action plan!

For more information about S.O.S and our services:


The Spa Management dilemma

Around this time last year, I had an idea. We had run our Spa management courses for about 7 years and we are constantly getting queries from students on where they can find and compare spa management educations (such as candidate and bachelor) as well as shorter courses, such as ours, for those already working in the spa business.

We as employers had a huge challenge to find qualified spa managers, and so had all my colleagues in the business. And the ones that actually did graduate did not have the skillset that the industry want to hire.

Confused yet? You should be. Basically we are all over the place, as educational institutes, students and also the industry.

It had been lingering in my head for a long time that we have to do something about the spa management challenge, as spa managers are essentially those who build our future.

Beautiful Aspen

Beautiful Aspen

So we commissioned a study via the Global Spa & Wellness Summit (GSWS), where I happened to be on the board and we presented the result this week in Aspen,

In short (the long version can soon be downloaded at )

a)    educational institutes are not educating the spa managers that the industry wants to hire

b)   the industry is not investing in the spa managers they already have, and therefore many of today’s spa managers do not have the tools to lead a successful and profitable spa

The industry has a lot of responsibility in this, we have to communicate with the educational institutes and tell them what core competencies that we want them to educate in.

As Dave Ramsay says “ we can either chose to educate our staff and risk looking them OR keep them dumb and slow” – we as an industry has chosen the latter.

We had a very productive round table discussion about this, that I led and we agreed to that it is now time for the industry to step up to the plate, and although I promised myself that I would not take on a leading role in this (it took quite some time to get this research together with SRI International….), I found myself passionately saying that I would head the initiative up.

I hope that we will in one year have a website where students can find all spa management educations and courses, that we have a set of core competencies that we are all educating in and that we have an active industry where we are communicating with students and educational institutes

Stay tuned and I will keep you posted on new advancement as we go along!



Telomeres – the new hot solution to youth?

During the Global Spa & Wellness Summit, we had the opportunity to measure our Telomeres (for free!).

Telomeres you might wonder?? Or you are one of those that has followed the very intense discussions the past year??

Advocates says that Telomeres is the answer to many chornic diseases. And given that 80% of the population at the age 65 has at least one chronic disease this is really good news. Would it be true….

Telomeres are two caps at each end of the chromosomes that we have in each cell (see picture). It is said that if we have long Telemores, we are biologically young (er), and if they are short, we are prone to get diseases.

Telomeres are said to be connected to our mental health (isn’t everything??), and if we are stressed and negative, it immediately leads to shorter Teleomeres. Another interesting observation is that if you are one of those that lets your mind wonder, well then you are more prone to depression.

So how can we lengthen our Teleomeres – not that surprisingly, research says that it is the same thing that we should always practice to be healthy, namely eat Omega 3, exercise, sleep well, have social support and practice mindfulness.

Isn’t it strange how everything is connected – or maybe not, as we are one ecosystem within a larger one. Practice the above, and you don’t have to worry about Telomeres.

I also want to say that there is A LOT of discussions if measuring Telomeres actually is valid, and if so in what way. If you have cancer, for example, then the Telemores are very long on the actual cancer cells. The many pills one today can take to lengthen Telemores should most likely be avoided, as if we are prone to have cancer, then we would help it on its way.

If you want to read more about the good, the bad and the ugly – check out Mark Sissons blog  where he has a very good (and long!)  discussion about Telomeres.

I will let you all know my result when I get it in a about 2 months!


Innovation is NOT Invention

“I have failed over and over again in my life, that is why I succeed” – Michael Jordan

I had the pleasure of listening to John Kao, one of the worlds most famous drivers of innovation. He said that we were living in a time where we are “Problem rich  and Solution poor”, but the good news is that we are reaching a tipping point with a new paradigm. I think that this is something that many of us are feeling in general during teh very exciting 2012.

The solution to come to the tipping point is – Innovation. To innovate, one needs to come in to a “flow” and not think too much. John likened it with any

John Kao

John Kao

craftsman, that we have to practice and practice, not give up our innovation and sooner or later the reward will come. The case is however often the opposite, where we innovate, put some effort to it, and then give up. Give up and innovation does not go hand in hand.

To innovate, we must be creative. Creativity is the universal human ability to generate new ideas. Imagination is the ability to form images and sensations without reference to the actual senses.

What he also said was that innovation is not invention. Innovation is creativity applied to a purpose to realize value, as a distinction to invention.

His formula for innovation is: Discipline + imagination = Innovation. Just as Michael Jordan, above, said in other words.

I personally think that we all have the imagination, it is the discipline that we often lack. We lose the perseverance, we have an idea, sometimes it stays there and never becomes more than idea. Other times we implement it and then let go of it when we step upon some challenges.

One thing that my good friend and former business partner, Roz, taught me was that if you believe in an idea – a vision – and firecfully apply it against all odds, you will eventually succeed.

I think that is what Michael Jordan did and many other people around the world. The failed, then failed again, and finally failed better.



There is no Plan(et) B…..

The Global Spa & Wellness Summit is right now taking place at the Aspen Institute in the US. I am one of the founding board members and have been to each one since the start 7 years ago. It is an amazing event, and this year is unparalleled.

I will give you some insight to what is happening the coming days and weeks. Today will be perhaps not the most uplifting brief, but no doubt a wake up call!

The first day was about innovation and also talking about how the world as we know it is changing. As Costa Rica’s former president Jose Maria Figueres Olsen said – there is no Planet B, we have no second chance, we need to act now. What we are currently doing, he said, is re-arranging the deck chairs on Titanic….

An equally grim picture came from Philippe Bourgingon. Who said that the economy and growth that we have experienced since World War II is coming to an end, the consumption led as well as the export led economy are dying. We have been living above our means, the current lack of consumption is pushing countries to debt and the western methods to correct this do not work any longer. This recover is the worst recover of the last 11 crisis recoveries. What we are doing right now is giving the economies pain killers, takes away some of the symptoms but does not cure the root cause….

So what do we do?

Innovate and imagine!

Former US Chief Surgeon, Dr Richard Carmona talked about – among others – that he got an advice from Senator Kennedy when he took the position “when you enter Washington, bring a dog, this will be your only friend”…

He also spoke about that the world today is delivering a “sick care” system and not a “health care” system. 2 of our 7 billion inhabitants on the planet is living on less than USD 1/day. That the declining state of our environment is directly linked with many of the diseases today, such as for example asthma.

The good thing is that what science has found is that 3 our of 4 people do not need to be in the hospitals if it wasn’t for our behavioral problem we are showing. Food, drugs, domestic violence, life style etc. is what in 75% of the cases pushes us into the sick care system.

This is good news! We can do something about it – wellness and spas play a very important part here!

Well, that was the wake up call! Tomorrow I will speak about what John Kao (innovation activist) and Ted Souder (Google) said. That will make you happy again!


Ps. Ted SOuder from Goole congratulated the very innovative idea to give out our LivNordic bath brushes to market our new brand! Ds. 

Getting hyped up for summer!

As most of the Swedish spas starts to wind down to the slow season, our LivNordic spa at Grand Hôtel starts preparing for the busiest season, with lots of tourists wanting to try the most royal among the worlds massages – The Swedish Massage!

Grand Hôtel is hosting many of the tourists coming to visit Stockholm at its best. Sun is up for almost 24 hours, the city radiant displaying many of the pleasures that a tourist can try.

For us – the magical sauna and cold dip in the ocean is something that has to be experienced. It is as Nordic as one can get, its many benefits are countless, but it the shock and the satisfying feeling that tingles throughout the body afterwards that I love the most. Ad some birch, great company and something to eat and drink and there is nothing I rather do on a summer evening.

We have tried to mimic this at our LivNordic spa with the cold dip pool is surrounded a mosaic wall which is an actual picture from Stockholm archipelago that has been assembled pixel by pixel to give the feeling of being in nature (see picture). It is the probably best alternative to the real thing.

Grand Hôtel is as Nordic as it gets, the best hotel in Scandinavia, and where else to experience the worlds most sought after massage, together with sauna, cold dip and a bit of luxury. And the design is of course completely Scandinavian, and staying true to what Raison d’Etre is about, it is probably one of the most sustainable spas in the world, with UV and sand filtered pool, FSC wood, non toxic paint, no PVD pipes, organic linen, natural products etc. etc.

At our LivNordic spa we also host many other Nordic treatments, such as the Nordic Bathing de Luxe, Nordic Thai Massage, Arctic Detox Massage, Swedish Cure, Nordic Beauty and many more!

We love the summer season, as we are able to give visitors a taste of what makes Sweden so fantastic, the connectivity to nature, healthy life style and sound mindfulness – simply put – coming a bit closer to Nordic Life  – LivNordic.


My journey to Restorative Yoga

I’ve been doing Yoga for almost 15 years now, starting out with very basic Hatha Yoga, moving into the more challenging Bikram Yoga, which kept me passionate for a few years…For the past 5 years I have mostly done Ashtanga and Vinyasa Yoga…it seems like the more demanding styles of yoga has always attracted me. Particularly Ashtanga and Bikram yoga, as these styles gives me a frame for my practice, I know exactly the postures and the sequences, it is always the same and I know I have done something complete when the practice ends. It is also very rewarding as you clearly see your developments and progress from class to class. But after many years of on and off practice, I started to question my craving for the demanding yoga styles. I started to question my wish to constantly improve and compare my practice with my previous sessions, and especially the sense of failure if I did not have a good day at the mat…

After my second baby was born, I went through some very challenging time and I had a long way back, where I constantly tried to perform as I had always done. I tried to go back to my Ashtanga class, but it felt like I was constantly thrown off the mat, my body hurt, my mind was somewhere else and my focus was just on what is wrong?

I tried to go running instead, but after 10 minutes I hit the wall….and I tried hard, as I thought that physical activity will get me back on track, but then a wise person “lighted some lights” for me and explained the necessity of letting go…and to do things differently.  I finally realized that I could not force myself, I could not perform as I used to….I had to do something completely different – and I did!

I took another look at the yoga studio’s weekly schedule and started to look for the classes I never had cared about before; yin yoga, restorative yoga, meditation…and it surprised me; I actually saw more of these type of classes than the more demanding once – what had happened? I even checked the schedules for other yoga studios, and saw a remarkable increase for restorative yoga…

I went to some yoga workshops and listened to other participants and what I heard surprised me, many of them had after many years moved from the more demanding styles of yoga to calmer styles, and it had not been an easy journey, but a necessary one. Many of us had constantly tried to get back on the Bikram or Ashtanga mat, but were constantly “stopped” for various reasons…I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with more demanding yoga styles, I’m just reflecting over the trend that there seems to have been a shift in the yoga offers, moving towards a more gentle version, not necessary less demanding, but a more accepting style of yoga…

So what happened for me personally? Well, I stopped all types of demanding physical activities; I took daily long walks and just attended restorative yoga classes regularly – 2 hours of nothing but “active rest”. I actually had to take 2, maybe 3 or 4 steps back before I could actually move forward again…

Today I’m back on track, I’m running, I can do Ashtanga classes every now and then, but I have incorporated regular restorative yoga practice into my life, and I love the 2 hours classes…and I’m convinced that sometimes you have to accept the situation, listen to your body and take a few steps back, before you can go on again…

So what is Restorative Yoga?

Restorative Yoga is about deep and aware relaxation. It is a Yoga of ‘Being’, rather than a Yoga of ‘Doing’. It is a gentle form of yoga which focuses on relaxation of the muscles and the body tissue so that a state of deep relaxation and healing can occur The intention is to release rather than strengthen and there is never any sensations of strain in this type of yoga. The thought behind Restorative yoga is to create possibilities for the body to heal; it is a self healing process. During a Restorative class you will use a lot of props, like pillows, blankets, blocks,eye pillows etc and the idea is to support the body in the posture as much as possible so you can enter a meditative state so that the body can fully relax and thereby heal…


(Picture borrowed from

Enter the zone of silence – BARS

Brahma Kumaris has a course called self-management and leadership, the title have always inspired and intrigued me. It is so obvious that the way to become a great leader is to be able to lead oneself first and foremost.

So, how does one lead someone to lead themselves without interfering too much, setting fixed standards, opinions, judgments and or giving too much advice?

Self-inquiry, becoming more aware of the world, people and relations, how we and they affect one another, feed and grows independent and dependent of each other…

As a Body therapist you often get in touch with energy, in form of thoughts, emotions and or physical responses and reactions, your own or the clients. It is great if the therapist is able to offer their silent mind, meaning not having opinions on everything or expects a certain response, or even wants a certain response. Just being a witness and facilitator.

A treatment always offers new ways of looking at the specific matter, the reason why the client came for the treatment.

I got in touch with Bars / Access Consciousness in Stockholm through a course at the Nordic Spa & Fitness at Grand Hotel and I thought it was a brilliant tool for both therapists and the guest, a win-win situation. For the therapist – as a tool to work with one self in giving each other (therapist to therapist) the treatment and then again as a silent moment in giving the bars to the guest and at the same time, remind themselves while giving, about the importance to cleanse oneself from thoughts, judgments and set values, an opportunity to just be in the moment.

So, I wish the team at the Nordic Spa & Fitness Grand Hotel allow themselves to be in the zone of silence and non-judgment, to be able to be in the present moment and see what comes up while they give treatments and also to experience the silence for themselves, to receive while giving and believe in the force. And to continue the course of self-management to become great leaders, and if not leaders to others, leaders of their own life!

Explanation of Bars

To give someone access to consciousness is a simple exercise of holding certain points on the head. According to the method there are 32 points on your head which, when gently touched, effortlessly and easily release anything that doesn’t allow you to receive. These points contain all the thoughts, ideas, beliefs, emotions, and considerations you have stored in any lifetime. This is an opportunity for you to let go of everything!

Each Bars session can release 5-10 thousand years of limitations in the area of your life that corresponds with the specific Bar being touched. This is an incredibly nurturing and relaxing process, undoing limitation in all aspects of your life that you are willing to change!


For more information:

It is the time of the year when sunscreens are hot topics for discussions!

What works, what is safe and what is the difference between chemical and not chemical? We have sorted out the question marks and given some examples below. There is nothing better than a t-shirt and a hat and below are some surprising truths about sunscreens:

1. There is no consensus on whether sunscreens prevent skin cancer

2. There is some evidence that sunscreens might increase the deadliest form of skin cancer for some people

3. There are more high SPF products than ever before, but no proof that they are better

4. Too little sun might be harmful, reducing the body’s vitamin D levels

5. The common sunscreen ingredient vitamin A may speed the development of cancer

Mainstream or “chemical” sunscreens work by using chemicals to absorb UVB and UVA rays. Drawback: People are sometimes sensitive to the chemicals.

*Natural or “barrier” sunscreens use the active ingredients titanium dioxide or zinc oxide to form a barrier between the skin and the sun. Drawback: Natural sunscreens often look really white and thick when you put them on and take a while to absorb (not always the best look, I admit). Chemical sunscreens with synthetic active ingredients need time to be effective — up to 30 minutes. That’s because chemical sunscreens have to soak into the skin before they begin to work. Furthermore, sunscreen chemicals have been found to pass through the skin and mimic the effects of estrogen, which may disrupt the delicate balance of the body´s natural hormones.

So, are natural sun screens completely safe? The shocking truth is the fact that both chemical sunscreens (avobenzone, methoxycinnamate, padimate-o and the like) and physical sunblocks (titanium dioxide and zinc oxide) have been found to generate free radicals when exposed to sunlight, which then can attack the nuclei of your skin cells and cause mutations. That´s right: they can cause skin cancer.

So, what is our advice? Use natural sunscreen, they are for sure better than the chemical ones, in our opinion. Our favorite and natural sunscreen is from The Organic Pharmacy.

To summarize; keep these “safety tips” from the Environmental Working Group in mind for the coming sunny season;

  • Avoid the sunscreen chemical oxybenzone, a synthetic estrogen that penetrates the skin and contaminates the body. Look for active ingredients zinc, titanium, avobenzone or Mexoryl SX.
  • Sprays and powders cloud the air with tiny particles of sunscreen that may not be safe to breathe. Choose creams instead.
  • New government data show that tumors and lesions develop sooner on skin coated with vitamin A-laced  creams. Vitamin A, listed as “retinyl palmitate” on the ingredient label,  is in 33 percent of sunscreens. Avoid them.
  • SPF 50+ does not provide longer-term protection when you’re in the sun. Stick to SPF 15-50+, reapply often and pick a product based on your own skin, time planned  outside, shade and cloud cover.

”Badskumt” – a book about all the harmful chemicals that we daily apply on our skin

A few weeks ago we met the author; Katarina Johansson, at Spadagarna, and we got inspired to find out more about her book “Badskumt”. In our everyday life we use so many products that are filled with environmental hazardous and damaging substances. We apply products to our skin that contain ingredients that are known for causing allergies. We use perfumes that can affect the hormonal system and we use sunscreen that can hurt our DNA. Isn’t this crazy? Or are we making too much fuzz about this? What do you think? Feel free to share your view on this matter in the comments field below.

Even though not all chemicals are dangerous we still know very little about the cocktail effect; What happens when we mix hundreds of chemicals every day on our skin? And this is where Katarina’s expertise comes in.

Interview with Katarina:

What is your background? Katarina: I used to work for the National Swedish TV, and I used to do a lot of documentary films. But I have also always had a great interest for environmental issues and I have studied environmental journalism.

What made you write the book? Katarina: I think it all started when I was studying Environmental Science at university and we had a marine biologist visiting, who really inspired me to learn more about all the chemicals we apply on the skin and what it does for us and for the nature. I wanted to learn more, but could not really find a lot of material or information on this subject. I read the book “Hemliga kocken*” (a book about all the “hidden ingredients” in the food and what our processed food actually contains) and that is when I got the idea to my book; Badskumt. I wanted to compile information and write an informative book about what our cosmetics contain and what the ingredients actually do for us and for the nature.

Were there any difficulties while researching and writing the book and how long did it take? Katarina: It took me 2 years to finish the book, from start to print. While doing the research I felt that there is a lot of information that is missing out there. Also the information about hazardous ingredients in the cosmetic industry can be interpreted in many different ways. Different countries also have different guidelines and recommendations and limitations to how to use and handle all the chemicals.

While researching, did you see any differences among countries? Could you see any countries that stand out more when it comes to cosmetics and concern about the environment? Katarina: I would say Denmark appears a lot in these discussions, and they are also more cautious in their recommendations and advice regarding the use of chemical ingredients in beauty products. In Denmark there is also a greater concern about avoiding certain chemicals in cosmetics during pregnancy.

What area do you think is the most important to be cautious about? Katarina: My main suggestion would be to be careful with hair coloring, which contains a lot of chemicals. But also to generally cut down on the number of products in your bathroom. Even though not all the chemicals in your cosmetic products are hazardous for you or for the environment we know very little about the effect when hundreds of them are mixed together. I have also started to use solid hand soap instead of liquid hand soap, as there is no need for preservatives in a solid had soap.

Unfortunately this book is so far only published in Swedish, but if you would like to get in touch with the author, you can find a “Badskumt” – profile on Facebook.

Thinking of creating your own products? Think twice!

We often get requests from spa owners and operators that they want to create their own bespoke product line and many do, but it isn’t always that easy!

“Our own product line, perfect for us and it would make us unique!” is thought that has crossed many spa mangers, owners, operators minds, and it is absolutely true. But, be prepared…

…it takes more time than you think

…it is more complicated than you think

…it costs more than you expected

If you still want to go ahead, then here are a couple of wise advice from us (having created own lines for AmanSpas, Jiva (Taj) spas, One&Only Spas, Auriga (Capella) spas and our own LivNordic wellness brand).

1. First you need to be very clear on what you want, for example a special theme/concept, natural vs. not natural, medical vs. pampering etc. and compile this in a product tender brief. Do you want the creating company to also choose packaging, what is the quantity etc. Be specific!

Tip1! Ask for a final liter cost price from the companies – it can be a “to-from” price, but then you have capped the purchase cost. If you don’t do this from the start, then you are up for a nasty surprise. We have seen this over and over again!

2. Once you know exactly what you want, you send out your tender to selected companies and when you get the proposals you will see that they vary considerably, and it is time to start negotiate. Go for it, it often works!

Tip2! Decide which one to go with combining your business mind and gut feeling. If indecisive, go with your stomach, it never lies.

3. When you come as far as selecting and having an agreement signed, then it is time for the selected company to start developing and wait for the first samples to arrive.

Tip3! Once you get them, make sure that you have prepared a selection of people of varying origin, gender and age to trial them and have a form ready for them to fill out in order to give the product company comprehensive feedback for the next round of samples. You do this as many times as needed before you are 100% satisfied with the samples.

4. Meanwhile you should have been looking at packaging and that is almost the trickiest part! Most packaging companies wants you to purchase quantities of 20,000 of one size, you can get away with as little as 3,000 but if you are just one spa or even up to 4 spas, this is still too many. This means that your choice is very limited to companies that supply a small amount, and you have to be very creative with the labeling as the bottles and jars on offer are very standard.

5. You have your products, jars and labels and you are happy. If you reach this stage, then it has most likely taken you about 12 months or more and you are tired, but happy as you are finally on your way!

Tip 4! We strongly recommend starting with body products and then possibly going for facial products, but as the technology, laws and research is changing by the second, it might be better to keep the facial line with a professional licensed line.

I am not even going to get into licensing and the challenges and loopholes with getting products into different countries, don’t forget to look into that too! China for example, you will have to ship product and empty bottles separately and then have them filled there…Egypt, well, just don’t go to Egypt trying to get products in and well… just make sure you know what is needed for the region that you are in.

If you have questions or comments, feel free to e-mail us questions! We would be happy to advice you not to the same mistakes we have done!