Valentine's Day lovers laying it on thick

By Janetta Mackay

Head-to-toe indulgence for your loved one was of course the order of the day on Valentine's Day, but this year some people really laid it on thick.

Long after the roses have wilted, a new beauty trend will see some people enjoying what has been touted as the ultimate beauty treat.

A handful of Auckland salons and spas have this year added chocolate to their menus, supplementing the usual voucher offers for pampering packages with a range of tasty new treatments.

At East Day Spa at SkyCity Grand Hotel, a luxury chocolate facial will set you back $115. Forme day spas offer a chocolate body scrub and back massage for $99 and - in the too much information category - a seasonal special of chocolate-flavoured waxing.

Isis spa in Newmarket has introduced the chocolate pedicure at $65, to presumably leave your toes good enough to eat, after a soaking, scrubbing and moisturising, all in chocolaty products imported from the United States.

Chocolate wasn't just the flavour of Valentine's Day, it has started to find its way into regular beauty treatments because the cocoa bean is high in skin preserving anti-oxidants and cocoa butter is moisturising.

Madonna, Uma Thurman and Victoria Beckham are all celebrities said to have indulged.

Whether being slathered in the stuff is as good as eating it is a matter of opinion, but it's one way to show your devotion to the chocoholic in your life, or perhaps to simply console yourself if love is lacking.

I tried the East Day Spa facial, though when I heard they were using Valhrona, the Rolls Royce of chocolate, I did piggily think what a waste. The 72 per cent Araguani Valhrona comes from foodie favourite store Sabato and when I inhaled it melting in the spa treatment room I was transported to the kitchen. Later, just like icing a cake, a little brush was used to paint the chocolate across my cleansed skin. A relaxing upper body massage followed during which I managed not to water at the mouth as the delicious dark brown mask did its work.

The food analogies had started flowing even before the facial, when a consultation about skin type and perfume preference let me choose if I wanted cherry, peppermint or rose gel (dubbed Turkish Delight), combined with the chocolate into the organic, handmade Hungarian range of Ilsci beauty products.

The cleanser smelled like my grandmother's lemon honey, the final moisturiser was an apricot concoction and in between was, of course, the chocolate.

On the skin it felt warm and light and afterward the texture was smooth and soft.

Spa manager Suyin Ginn explained: "It's a nice, fun treatment that sort of enlightens people to what they can do with natural products."

She recommends common pantry products for at-home beauty treatments, including honey as a moisturising mask and sugar or sea salt mixed with oil as an effective exfoliant. "We'd love you to come here though," she adds, saying interest in the chocolate facial has been high. Among the spa's clients have been visitors for the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series yachting.

I was sent on my relaxed way with a little "Why French Women Don't Get Fat"-sized tablet of Valhrona chocolate.

It was delicious, but luckily the treatment had sated, rather than stimulated, my appetite, even if I did leave smelling like Black Forest gateau.

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