It felt like eating ice cream covered in scotch bonnet sauce. That's the best way I can describe the sensation on my skin of having two smooth porcelain shells — one hot and one ice cold — simultaneously rubbed on my body during a massage treatment at Eclipze Hair Design & Day Spa.
The hot Lava Shells and the cold Glacier Shells are both fabricated from porcelain mixed with crushed tiger-striped clam shells from the Philippines. For a treatment, gel packets are placed in the shells and then activated with a solution before sealing the contents inside the clam. The gel packets heat the Lava Shells within eight to 10 minutes. The Glacier Shells require chilling in a freezer or ice bucket for two hours before the massage.
"It is more of a treatment than a massage," my therapist, Serene Brown, said before she started.
Porcelain Tiger-striped clam shells are used for the "Fire & Ice" massage treatments.
Eclipze currently offers two treatments with the shells. Both are delivered with one shell gripped in each palm, becoming an extension of the therapist's hands. The smooth shells glide across the skin, but allow for deep, pinpointed pressure on muscles.
A hot Lava Shell massage is more like a traditional massage. This relaxing treatment loosens muscles and soothes aches while boosting circulation — the typical benefits of heat therapy, two different gel packets can be used in the Lava Shell massage to determine the heat level, with one generating medium heat and the other high heat.
The other therapy offered by Eclipze, which is the one I received, is called Glacial Shell Detox Treatment and it uses both the hot and cold shells at the same time, with a different one in each hand of the therapist. The two-temperature shell massage is sometimes called "fire and ice" for obvious reasons.
Unlike most full-body massages that concentrate on the neck, shoulders and back, the Glacial Shell Detox treatment focuses on the legs, waist and abdomen. It does, however, include Lava Shell massage of the back and shoulders toward the end of the treatment, allowing it to finish on a warm, relaxing note.
This contrast therapy is said to alternately expand and contract blood vessels, increasing heart rate and metabolism while flushing the body of waste products. Indeed, I found myself extremely thirsty for several hours afterwards.
"All massages will do that," Serene told me the next day. "That's why we always recommend people drink a lot of water after a massage to flush the toxins."
In addition to offering a unique sensory experience, the contrast therapy also has other physiological effects. It increases the temperature of the body, which helps increase muscle elasticity and reduce muscle tightness, soreness and inflammation.
All of these benefits are good for both pre- and post-workout or sports activities, along with promoting overall health.
Serene says she believes there's another benefit that is of particular interest to women.
"It helps break up cellulite."
For those interested in experiencing either the Lava Shell massage or the Glacial Shell Detox treatment, Eclipze is offering $30 off either for those who present the coupon on page 28 of the September issue of Camana Bay Times during the month of September.
This article originally appeared in the September 2020 print edition of Camana Bay Times with the headline "Fire and ice in a massage".
About the author
Alan Markoff has worked with Dart as the editor for Camana Bay Times for three years and has been writing professionally since 1997. Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Alan graduated from the State University of New York at Albany with a degree in English, and first moved to the Cayman Islands in 1982. He has 16 years of experience in the real estate industry and previously worked as a journalist for Cayman Compass before joining Dart to relaunch the Camana Bay Times monthly newspaper. An avid baseball fan, Alan loves travelling but also schedules trips back home around catching a summer game or two with his home team, Cleveland Indians. He is a movie buff who spends many an evening catching a film at Camana Bay Cinema. It was at one of these movies that he met his wife, Lynn!