I Tried an Emotion-Balancing Facial to Feel More Relaxed


An essential oil that strengthens concentration, supports healthy digestion and, probably what I’m most keen on, promotes inner peace and balance — these are among the many benefits of oud oil or argwood oud oil, as it’s sometimes called.

The essential oil is one of the rarest and most expensive in the world. Its many benefits include easing pain, reducing inflammation and aiding digestion. It’s been said that in Tibetan medicine, the oil was used to treat emotional, nervous and psychological issues through its ability to induce a deep meditative state.

It’s no wonder it’s the star of one of Shangri-La Sydney spa Chi’s latest treatments. Called Arabian Oud Renewal Therapy, the 90-minute treatment is part facial, part body massage. It uses the oil specifically to release stored emotions and improve spiritual well-being, all while detoxifying your body.

As someone who can never decide between a facial or a massage, not to mention someone who’s constantly working on improving my mental health, it sounded ideal. I was excited to try it out.

Walking into the spa Chi inside the swanky Shangri-La hotel located in The Rocks on a Friday after work, I immediately felt my tightened-up shoulders release. Inside the dimly-lit spa, I was led into my treatment room with a bathroom, shower and sink where I undressed and hopped on the massage bed as my therapist waited outside.

Back inside, she explained how the treatment would be split — 45 minutes of a massage and 45 minutes of a facial and face massage. She explained that the oud oil was used to balance emotions and reduce tension. She started with my body first, massaging my legs, back, shoulders and neck. Then came the facial, followed by a scalp massage. At one point she started tapping my face, which felt surprisingly relaxing.  

As with any massage, I didn’t want it to end. When the therapist left me to put on my thick, white robe as she made me a tea, I lay on the bed for a few minutes, not wanting to get up. Eventually, I met her outside the door so we could head into the ‘after treatment’ area, with lounges to lay on as you sip your tea and indulge in the after-effects of a relaxing massage.

There, she went through the different products she’d used, mainly the oud oil, of course, before explaining I could use the spa’s pool, jacuzzi and shower facilities until I was ready to leave. I was kicking myself for planning a dinner that evening as I would’ve loved nothing more than to continue the pampering.

Instead, I headed into the spa’s communal bathroom to get changed, deciding to leave on the oud oil in the hopes doing so would make it that much more effective.

So, did the treatment relieve my stress? Definitely. The salon was a relaxing sanctuary, and being inside a five-star hotel only added to the experience. The treatment itself was great, and being able to use the spa’s facilities for as long as you wanted afterward made its rate — $295 Monday to Thursday and $325 Friday to Sunday — well worth it as you could turn it into a full pamper afternoon.

Did the treatment balance my emotions? No, I actually didn’t notice much of that, just that, like with most pamper treatments, I felt more relaxed. Taking the time out of my non-stop week to treat myself to some full-body pampering and make myself feel special boosted my happy hormones and reminded me these physical and mental time-outs from daily stresses were always there when I needed them. So if that’s what you’re after and you’re Sydney-based or visiting Sydney, you won’t go wrong with this treatment.

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