By Wendy Toth
For many of the plants and fruits commonly used in spa treatments, winter is a time of hibernation and inactivity. For the juniper berry, however, harvest time comes when the rest of the world is settling down, in late fall.
The juniper tree, an evergreen, is hearty. It’s the most widespread coniferous plant in the world, and nearly all juniper berry crops are harvested in the wild. In ancient Europe, this vigorous little blue berry was known for its ability to ward off sorcery. Many Native American traditions recognize the juniper berry as a purifying force.
Today, it’s known for counteracting the negative energy, sluggishness, and blues that often accompany winter’s darker days and is the main ingredient in one merry-making drink, gin.
The bracing energy from the oils of this aromatic, woodsy, winter berry lends itself perfectly to rejuvenating wraps, creams, and cleansers. The resiny oil’s physical properties make it an effective astringent and anti-inflammatory. It’s no surprise the juniper berry is making an appearance in more and more cold-weather spa treatments and products. Check out our favorites.
As an ingredient in the Kiss My Face Potent & Pure Complete Facial Care System, juniper berry helps control the production of sebaceous oils, disinfects, and neutralizes bacteria on the skin. $14.99, starter kit
Juniper berry oil from Aura Cacia can be used with scent distillers for air purification, and added to lotions and soaks. $11.99
Masada Dead Sea Mineral Salts with Thyme, Juniper Berries, and Yarrow is a perfect mix for soothing aching muscles and joints. Plus the holiday-like aroma is a surefire spirit lifter. $15
Juniper Berry Scrub from SpaFinder partner Allegria Spa in Beaver Creek, Colorado combines the antibacterial berry with Shea butter for the ultimate in calming and moisture. $36
The essential oil of the juniper berry is a component in the balance oxygenating facial mask by Shankara. Based in red clay, this mask detoxifies skin, allowing for greater circulation, and oil and nutrient absorption. $60
Juniper Berry Clove soap from Holistic Homestead was formulated to calm irritations like oily skin acne, eczema and blemishes. $3.50
Healing Waters Cosmetic Clinic
Healing Waters Cosmetic Clinic PLLC in Durham, North Carolina, offers lavender, juniper, eucalyptus and wildflower soaks in Kneipp baths. Call for pricing.
Pure Spa in Roanoke, Virginia, has a Healing Rose Massage, which promotes skin health and radiance with Bulgarian rose oil and rose hip oil, along with juniper berry and grapefruit extracts Call for pricing.
Rejuvalux Body Klinic and Day Spa in Philadelphia offers face and body treatments that incorporate all-natural, wellness-oriented products from Italy, like the anti-aging Peat Body Treatment with juniper, artichoke, and birch extracts. Call for pricing.
Villagio Inn & Spa
Villagio Inn & Spa in Yountville, California, has its very own signature Lemon Juniper line. Call for pricing.
Nidah Spa at the El Dorado Hotel & Spa in Sante Fe, New Mexico, offers a rejuvenating Juniper Berry Pedicure as part its Day of Pampering package, which includes a Chocolate Molé Wrap & Massage, Desert Spa Manicure, shampoo with blow dry and lunch! Call for pricing.
The Juniper Berry and Algae detox at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort in Cherokee, North Carolina, borrows from the berry’s historical use as a dispeller of negative energy, and uses it to purify the body. $165 for 75 minutes
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Wendy Toth writes and edits stories about fitness, beauty (inner and outer), health and pets for outlets like The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Weight Watchers and Pet360. She lives in Pennsylvania and Brooklyn, which is complicated, but fun. You can ask her about it through wendytoth.com.