Once used mostly in massage, stones (both hot and cold) are gaining a wider audience and appearing in manicure and pedicure services. Find out why these stones can be a therapeutic experience for your clients — and for you.
You probably walk by them (or step on them, most likely) all the time without giving them a second thought, but that may be about to change. Stones are currently in the beauty spotlight, appearing in everything from massage and body treatments to manicures and pedicures. And with the trend toward all-natural nail services still going strong, adding stones to a manicure or pedicure helps you bring nature into the salon — while at the same time making a service more pampering and inviting than a simple polish change. Not only that, you can increase your ticket price.
“Using hot stones in a manicure or pedicure induces a deeper level of relaxation,” says Sonia Alexandra, president of TH Stone in Boca Raton, Fla., which supplies stones for different types of spa and salon services. “People are drawn to warmth. It takes a treatment to a totally different level.”
Back to Basics
Using stones on the body is not a new phenomenon. In fact, the use of stones and gemstones for healing purposes dates back thousands of years. The Chinese used heated stones more than 2,000 years ago to improve the function of internal organs.
Stones were used for healing work in North and South America, Africa, Europe, Egypt, and India. These traditions included laying stones in patterns on the body, carrying or wearing stones for health and protection, and using stones in the diagnosis and treatment of disease and ceremonial uses.
Although stone therapy has been around for thousands of years, it wasn’t until about 10 years ago that stones began appearing in spa services, such as massage and body treatments. Alexandra says it’s only been about four years since stones began being incorporated into manicure and pedicure services.
Stones Do Your Body Good
So what makes stone therapy so special? According to Rick Bresett, founder and president of LaPolar Stones in Montrose, Colo., it’s more than just another relaxing spa or salon experience. Stone therapy increases blood circulation and metabolism and decreases tension and stiffness in body tissue when the stones are heated.
When stones are used cold, Bresett says they help increase muscle tone and body stimulation and help decrease inflammation and swelling.
That doesn’t mean you should rush to your backyard, pick up a few rocks, and start using them in your services, however.
“Basalt stones are the best for this type of therapy,” says Alexandra.“They’re volcanic in origin and good energy conductors. They’re smooth for the most part, retain heat, and cool quickly.”
Bresett says marble stones should be used in cooling services. “The hot stone goes on the body hot and comes off cold,” he says. “The cool stone goes on cold and comes off warm, creating a nice balance.”
Besides the therapeutic benefits, Bresett says there are other advantages to using stones in a service. “The stones allow a nail tech to work deeper without stressing the fingers and hands. Longevity in the field of service is always a major plus,” he says.
Also, says Alexandra, hot stones allow lotions and oils to penetrate faster into the skin.
When used in a pedicure, stones can be used to massage a client’s legs and feet. They can also be placed between the toes, which helps make polish application easier.
“People’s feet get cold easily,” says Alexandra. “Once the stones are placed between the toes it creates an ‘aahh’ moment for the client. You’re addressing an area where there are lots of nerve endings.” You can also place stones in the footbath to help create a smooth sensation on your client’s feet.
In a manicure, stones can be used to massage a client’s arms. You can also place stones between the fingers and in a client’s hands.
The Stone Foot Soother at the Brass Rose Spa and Salon has been a big hit with men, who love the warming sensation of the stones on their legs and feet.
Before You Begin
Alexandra recommends purchasing products from a reputable company whose focus is stone therapy.
Be sure to purchase stones suitable for hand and foot services. Massage therapists usually use larger stones in their services. “Use smaller stones for manicures and pedicures,” advises Alexandra. “Larger stones conduct too much heat. The hands and feet have less fat on them than other parts of the body so you can burn a client more easily.”
It’s important to know how to properly use the stones on a client.
Although they may look easy to use, you can burn a client if you’re not careful. Many stone manufacturers offer instruction, whether through videos, classes, or books.
“The more knowledgeable you are, the more efficient you’ll be with the application of the stones,”says Bresett. “Confidence in your knowledge and ability are why the client keeps returning.”
It’s also important to understand that like other implements you use in a pedicure or manicure service, the stones need to be cleaned and disinfected.
“Cleaning the stones is one of the most important parts of stone therapy — and the most neglected,” says Patricia Mayrhofer, president of Nature’s Stones Inc. in Churchville, Pa. Mayrhofer recommends placing the stones in a pedicure basin, adding soap and a disinfectant, and rinsing with hot water. Then drain the water from the heating unit, place the stones in the unit, add hot water, and replace the lid.
Getting Clients to Try It
Touting the soothing, therapeutic benefits of a hot stone manicure or pedicure may be all you need to get clients to try it. Rosemary Weiner, owner of the Brass Rose Spa and Salon in Blairstown, N.J., says she decided to market her Stone Foot Soother as a foot treatment for aching, tired feet. The service has been a hit, especially with her male clientele, who tended to view the salon’s other pedicure services as too “girly” for their tastes.
The service includes a foot soak, leg and foot exfoliation, and detoxifying mask. After the mask is removed a foot and leg massage is performed using heated stones and massage oil.
“We noticed that our female clients were also attracted to this service and book the optional mini-pedicure for an additional $15,”says Weiner. “This turns a $50 service into a $65 service.”
Alexandra says stone manicure and pedicures are perfect for clients who really want to feel relaxed. It’s also the perfect introductory treatment for clients who haven’t ventured into facials and massage.
Clients who need to de-stress or want to warm their hands and feet during the cold winter months will also benefit from the stones. Some stone manufacturers, such as Nature’s Stones Inc., even offer extras such as booties and mitts designed to hold stones in them.
Bresett suggests giving clients a demo answering any questions they may have on the stones.
“With the proper training and application, stone therapy can be an incredible asset to the client, the nail technician, and the salon,” he says.
The Dos and Don’ts of Stone Therapy
- Do obtain the proper instruction before incorporating hot or cold stones in your manicure or pedicure services.
- Don’t heat stones in a microwave, hydrocolator, or hot towel catty. Use specially made heating units.
- Do know the proper temperature for heating stones. For manicures and pedicures, stones should be heated no higher than 120-130 degrees.
- Don’t forget to consult with your client before beginning a service. Avoid using hot stones on clients with diabetes or circulatory problems, for example.
- Do allow stones to cool before applying them on a client.
- Don’t apply the stones directly onto the client’s skin after retrieving them from the heating unit. first apply a lubricant to the stones and rotate them in your hands.
- Do use the proper type of stone. Using just any type of stone can injure or burn a client.
- Don’t forget to wash and disinfect the stones after each use.
- Do avoid bony surfaces to prevent unnecessary bruising.
- Do ask your client if the temperature of the stones feels comfortable.
Signature Service At Roula’s Nail Spa in Houston, the Return to Bedrock Signature Foot Treatment is touted as “an ancient Chinese remedy used to treat a variety of ailments and enhance spiritual growth.” Owner Roula Nassar (NAILS’ AVAs 2004-2005 Salon of the Year winner) gave us the scoop on this popular service.
Length of service: One hour
Description: Clients place their feet in a peppermint foot soak. Then, legs and feet are massaged with warm basalt stones for five minutes. Smaller stones are applied in between the toes. After enjoying the heat of the stones for a few minutes, clients’ feet are wrapped in bags containing paraffin. Hot towels are applied on the clients’ legs and feet for about 10 minutes. After removing the paraffin and towels, legs and feet are massaged with a green tea body soufflé for 10 minutes. The feet are then wrapped in fresh hot towels for several minutes.