The traditional beauty rituals of Indonesian women date back thousands of centuries and take their roots in traditional medicine known as jamu. The collective knowledge of natural beauty remedies passed down through generations is still widely popular today, and are now being adopted by modern spas that cater to the hoards of visitors.
The biggest draw card for many of us travelling to Bali is the chance to catch up on spa treatments. The resort spas are great if you have a spa session included in your accommodation package, or you want to take a nap within seconds of completing your treatment and avoid the hassle of traveling back to the hotel. But they usually cost more than triple the price of a local spa, so most of us will be giving that luxury a miss.
If you’re after a more upmarket experience on the street, you’ll find plenty of independent boutique spas along the main strips in Kuta, Seminyak and Legian.
One such gem is Prana Spa in Seminyak. It’s one of the largest spas in Bali, eccentrically decorated in a Moroccan fashion with elaborate corridors and treatment rooms. A pedicure costs around USD$25, a hair cream bath will set you back around USD$30 and a 75 minute massage is about USD$40; that’s halfway between what your hotel will charge you and the token local spots.
Here’s a list of 5 of the best traditional Balinese spa treatments:
Balinese massages considered a routine staple of everyday life in local culture. It incorporates traditional techniques from India and China to relax pressure points, stimulate nerve endings, and rejuvenate tired muscles with long mid pressure strokes.
The Balinese do an amazing job when it comes to traditional massage. The best place to get a massage is right on the beach in the late afternoon. In Kuta and Seminyak, local masseuses trawl the beach throughout the day offering half hour massages for about USD$8.
Top your treatment off with a refreshing dip in the ocean and you’re ready to paint the town red!
Shirodara is a holistic Ayurveda therapy that is said to pacify a troubled mind. While you lie flat on a bed or table, a vessel filled with warm oil drips a steady stream of liquid on your forehead, drizzling over your scalp for about an hour.
As the warm oil gently flows off your “third eye”, you literally feel as though your troubles are melting away. The treatment is also known to cure head, neck and olfactory syndromes, insomnia, nervous disorders and tension headaches.
Papaya Enzyme Wraps
Papaya Enzyme Wrapsutilize naturally occurring papain enzymes to micro exfoliate, revitalize and hydrate the skin. They are also rich in vitamin C and potassium, which aids in removing excess fluid and toxins from the body. Since nutrients can be absorbed through the skin barrier, papaya enzyme wraps also boosts the lymphatic system.
Papaya has been used by traditional cultures for centuries to treat a large array of skin conditions. It’s known to cure everything from cracked heels and pimples to skin discoloration and even ringworm. Blessed be the humble papaya!
Mandi Luluris an ancient Javanese body scrub that’s followed by a floral bath and is used by Indonesian women as part of their regular beauty ritual. A paste made from yoghurt, rice powder and turmeric is buffed over the whole body in long circular strokes, and then soaked off in a lightly scented bath.
Yoghurt contains lactic acid, a natural hydroxyl acid exfoliator, while rice powder acts as a physical exfoliator. These two natural ingredients also contain skin brightening and hydration properties. Turmeric on the other hand, is a powerful antioxidant labeled as a super skincare spice that treats everything from acne and blemishes to eczema and dry skin conditions.
The Mandi Lulur experience is a wonderful exfoliation and hydration treatment for the body that leaves your skin feeling soft and supple for days after. It’s also a great soothing treatment for sunburnt skin. Often, the concoction is scented with sandalwood, so if you’re not used to pungent smells, let the spa therapist know your preference.
Hair cream bath
A hair cream bathis a traditional scalp and hair treatment that locals swear by. It starts with a head, neck and shoulder massage and is followed by a homemade mask made from avocado, ginseng and other natural ingredients that are gently rubbed into the hair and scalp. It’s left on for 30 minutes under a steamer while you continue to be pampered.
For some Indonesian women, washing their own hair is a rare to never occurrence, with a professional hair cream bath being such a regular treat.
Hair salons across Indonesia are wonderfully cheap since they’re a staple of daily life for many local women, so you don’t need to go to an upmarket salon to get a good service. The locally run salons do a perfectly great job; just ask for a hair cream bath and a blowout.