These indulgent treatments, which use seashells as their primary massage tool, trace their origins to the idyllic island of St. Barts in the Caribbean. And thousands of miles away, in France, they began to gain popularity.
What is a shell massage?
A flap massage, of course, starts with a flap. The shellfish used in France come sustainably from different areas of the Pacific Ocean, according to Mathilde Fillonthe main trainer Spa Diane Barriere.
“We intentionally target multiple areas of the ocean to avoid emptying entire regions. Our goal is to ensure that we treat them responsibly and sustainably and that we do not disturb the ocean environment,” says Fillon. . “We then clean the shells, smooth their exterior and wash them thoroughly so they can be reused.”
Once the shells are clean and smooth, they are warmed up to evoke the same sensations as a hot stone massage. Before the treatment, a therapist prepares the shells by putting dry minerals in them and activating them with salt water for about 30 minutes. This combination of ingredients causes the clam shells to heat up naturally, to which she then adds avocado oil and soaks. Avocado oil is an excellent moisturizer that improves skin elasticity, reduces inflammation and strengthens the skin barrier.
Chemically speaking, the natural calcium carbonate composition of seashells allows them to retain heat, ensuring a soothing and therapeutic experience. Warm shells release tension and knots in the shoulders, back and lower body while promoting blood circulation And relieve stress. A massage therapist rubs them in intentional, rhythmic and rapid movements.
“The therapist is trained to apply the right amount of pressure to the shells to release tension in the right places and enhance stimulation so the body feels soothed without causing abrasion on the skin,” Fillon explains. “When working on the lower body, the heat on the shells also has the same effect as the lymphatic draining massage.”
Unlike other massages, which are recommended occasionally, Fillon confirms that the massage can be performed daily as it is an excellent muscle relaxant. Unfortunately, there is no way to replicate this at home, as the heating and application methods require serious training to perform correctly. For example, any overheating of clam shells can cause mild burns to the skin.
What Happened When I Tried A Flapper Massage
Although the spa had a sweet lavender aroma, my biggest concern was if the clam shells would smell like fish and therefore if that smell would linger on my skin. However, the therapist assured me that the shells had been cleaned several times to remove any fishy smell, then hand polished to create a perfectly smooth finish.
As the warm clams glided over my skin, I enjoyed how the natural contours of the shells conformed to my body, even in hard-to-reach places!
Throughout the 60 minute treatment, I didn’t feel a massive physical benefit, but I did feel a mental ease. The repetitive motion of the clams on my skin, coupled with the rejuvenating sound of the waves in the background and the subtle scents of avocado oil, puts me in a meditative state.
Plus, the experience made me feel connected to nature in a whole new way. The feel of the shell on my body made me reflect on all the ways we have learned to harness the resources given to us by Mother Nature, and the deep relaxation that these humble molluscs were able to give me was something worth hard to be shell-abrasive.