The Ayurvedic facial is the Cadillac of holistic beauty indulgences

We sampled the experience at Montreal salon Seed and Rind.

A practice that dates back to the Sanskrit texts, an Ayurvedic facial is the Cadillac of holistic beauty indulgences as it combines healing that extends from India’s “knowledge of life,” with an exquisite, relaxing experience that is like no other sensation: combining an personalized aesthetic treatment with a facial massage at Vanessa Tavaglione’s Seed and Rind salon.

At first glance, Tavaglione’s very spa-like home treatment room immediately dispels any notion that what she is offering is a straight-up, run of the mill, “let’s get pretty” experience. While the premise does sound vaguely like something out of the ’60s, what Tavaglione does is relatively new to the city but the concept it’s based on has existed for 5,000 years. Despite the mainstream status of yoga, the sister school of Ayurveda, Ayurvedic practices are only now becoming the new “next thing” in the spa and cosmetic world. The Seed and Rind website includes an image of women with crystals placed on their face as part of a treatment, but what initially looks a little kooky is actually a practice based on Chinese medicine. (But, as Tavaglione explained, Chinese medicine and naturopathy both originated in Ayurveda.)

Walking into the Travaglione’s warming white salon/spa with a massage table and an entire wall of bottles of oil and tinctures — which she uses to make each client their own very well researched custom skin care product to cure an ailment or just to promote healthy skin — almost automatically puts you at ease. With the aromas and ambient spa music in the air, listening to Tavaglione talk about how she arrived here is its own experience. Having studied holistic nutrition and Ayurveda at different institutions, and then experimenting with these practices with friends, Tavaglione explains that it was about a decade between studying each science and a lot of personal passion for the work that led her to open her own business in this very specific domain. While she says there are whole spas devoted to this practice in the U.S., what she offers is the only gig in town for this kind of treatment.

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Unlike the average aesthetician, Tavaglione’s practice is facial massage and scalp massage (the latter also serves as hair treatment) according to Ayurvedic theory. The facials and what goes into what she uses to treat each individual are based entirely on the world of healing according to the “Dosha,” which is the term used to define body types under the Ayurvedic constitutions: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Prior to seeing a client, she will have them fill out a questionnaire to get an understanding of their body and its needs as the theory is that the skin is a reflection of what is happening within each individual.

“I use plant-based organic products,” says Tavaglione, “so each ingredient has its own energy and its own constituency and brings its own benefits, but this is all according to what the person’s issue is.

“We were talking about the Doshas earlier and where that imbalance is, and the oils are chosen according to that as well. We also take into account the season that we are in because those are other energies, as well as the age of the person and their temperament. There are so many other elements that come into play when it comes to making these formulations,” she says.

Every client experience is very tailored to their individual needs as well as their requests, including those Chinese medicine crystals, which are based on energy points. According to Tavaglione, there are literally hundreds of variables that can go into anyone’s cosmetic experience at her salon.

Digging deeper into the practice and her mesmerizing wall of Ayurvedic medicinals geared for hands-on healing, the very first thing that comes across is confidence. The extensive amount of research that has clearly gone into creating this ultra-luxurious, luscious, self-indulging experience of massage for your face and/or hair are backed up with theory — ask her and she’ll tell you all about it; she is a spectacular wellspring of knowledge. While the experience of having your face massaged is a warming, wondrous experience in itself, the whole treatment is based on so much more and, says Tavaglione, it can do so much more for you if you keep with the practice she prescribes.

Laying back to take in some time on her table, with the swiftness of her hands with the uniquely fabricated tonic, worries are swept away as you slip into this fine, ultra Zen, healing zone — nap time could have easily followed. You really don’t want it to end (especially in my case as it was a 20-minute sample), but luckily you can get some of your own special cosmetic tonic to go.

This trip to Seed and Rind was a crash course in skin care and traditional health practices, and an inspiring experience, too. ■

For more information, see the Seed and Rind website.