Tried and Tested: Relaxing with the Shirodhara Treatment

It's not every day that you have a liter of oil poured on your head.

by Michaela Fulton | Fri, June 02, 2017

Set within the architectural beauty of the Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on The Bund, we were immediately charmed by the blend of heritage and contemporary comforts that greeted us upon entering the building. Making our way towards the spa, on the third floor, we felt as if we were going further into the depths of a quiet retreat far from the bustling streets of the city.

The reception area was a sophisticated looking lobby filled with warm tones that had us melting instantly. Sitting in the comfortable waiting area, sipping on tea and enjoying the intimate atmosphere, we were introduced to the treatment we were about to receive. It's not everyday that you're told to expect a liter of oil to be poured on your head, but we were excited to feel the beneficial effects of the Shirodhara treatment  a form of Ayurveda therapy that involves gently pouring oil over the forehead.

The Shirodhara treatment is a therapy believed to induce sleep, ensure a stress-free mind and combat all the problems of today's hectic lifestyles  mental exhaustion, anxiety, insomnia, headaches and excessive thinking. After a brief survey on what we hoped would be the outcome of the treatment, preference of massage intensity and focus, we were invited to choose from three aromatic infusions:

  • Good Night  lavender and chamomile to assist in a restful night's sleep
  • De-Stress  lavender and geranium to calm and free the mind
  • Jasmine  exotic fragrance to perfume the hair and soothe the soul

We opted for the lavender and chamomile blend in the hopes that it would help us to sleep like a baby once home. What we didn't expect was that it would happen soon after lying down on the massage table.

After a delightfully warm footbath and salt scrub for the feet and calves  during which we noticed a rather suspect looking vessel that we assumed would contain the oil to be used during the treatment  we were led on the cushioned table within one of eight secluded treatment rooms. The treatment began with a full body massage which worked out all the knots and tension in the back and shoulders, which probably felt like decades worth of tension built up and the consequences of bad posture. Our bodies tingled with the boost in circulation.

Next came the much-anticipated main event, the head and scalp massage. In preparation of the oil treatment, a couple of wet cotton pads were placed over our eyes. It was in that moment that we knew to expect oil hitting our heads at any second. The suspense heightened, much like waiting for a rollercoaster to drop, and we're sure we jumped slightly as soon as it did. We were right in thinking that the vessel we had spotted earlier was what contained the oil, as we heard our therapist moving it closer to us, ultimately hovering above our heads to allow for a continuous stream to fall right on our foreheads.

The oil was warm and fragrant, a calming scent that was simultaneously rich and delicate. At first the stream of oil being poured onto our foreheads felt like a very strange senstion making us want to duck away to ensure it didn't reach our eyes. But soon enough, the combination of warm oil, the firm pressure and soothing caress smoothing the oil into our skin had us melting once more into a dream-like state. The oil was spread further into our hair and scalp. By this point, we were so relaxed that we fell asleep at the hands of our masseuse. Only awoken by the sound of our own (we think...) snores!

To finish the treatment, a mini facial consisting of a light cleansing and herbal moisturizer was applied and wiped down afterwards with a warm towel. Our skin felt smooth, clean and completely refreshed.

After the full 90-minutes, there was no doubt that we were indeed ready for a good night's sleep. Gently roused from our sleepy state, we took one look in the mirror and saw just how slick with oil our hair had become – a shining greaseball that smelled utterly amazing, almost like Christmas. As the mixture contained a rich carnellia oil, we were advised that leaving the oil in hour hair for at least an hour after treatment would do wonders for our hair. So, despite the inviting shower facilities within the treatment room, we managed to resist washing it all off. 

We embarked on our journey home emitting the strong scent of the fragrant oils and looking like we hadn't washed our hair in weeks, all in the name of stronger hair follicles and added luster. However, we were glad to have done so despite the odd looks received on the metro. The next day, our hair was silky smooth, smelled amazing and felt the best it had been in a long time!

From now until 31st July 2017, you can enjoy a special promotion at The Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on The Bund and their Shirodhara treatment!

What you get

For ¥1,288 per person, you'll enjoy a 90-minute Shirodhara treatment with a scalp and full body massage. At the end of the session, you'll receive a special Herbal Pad Eye Pillow from Five Senses to complete your rejuvenating journey.

All prices are subject to a 16.6% surcharge.

Find it

Address: Waldorf Astoria Spa Tower, Level 3, Zhong Shan Dong Yi Road (near Guangdong Lu)

Phone: 21-6322-9988