The Spa Guru’s Home Spa: Enjoy Professional Spa Treatments at Home by Shari Hartman

What scrub is best for body cleansing? Can saunas rebalance the body? Is there an effective re-hydrating mask for men? Would a facial party appeal to you? Which Bali medical spas offer colonics and use high tech equipment for detoxifying treatments? Want to keep your feet and hands in good condition while watching TV?

These are just a few of the remedies addressed in The Spa Guru’s Home Spa, self-published in 2015. Spa Guru (guru means teacher in Indonesian) is the nickname given to author Shari Hartman, spa consultant, spa trainer, spa manager and spa journalist who has worked for more than 20 years in Indonesia, Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore, India, and her hometown of Vancouver, Canada. She holds certificates in a variety of massage techniques and other healing modalities. Spa practitioners in Bali and the world over swear by her methods.

Hartman has always loved teaching other people how to be beautiful. After a car accident in 1980, she underwent four years of therapy and discovered that massage, more than any other healing practice, helped her to return to a state of health. She studied Shiatsu for three years and worked in Vancouver doing the bodywork system in the early 1990s. Not long after, Hartman had her first eye-opening experience with Javanese-style massage when an elderly masseuse in Jakarta gave her a body scrub with lulur paste.

Since arriving on Bali in the early 1990s, Hartman has established and managed two spa schools – Bali BISA and Jamu Spa School – which have since become top spa teaching institutes. She has published spa related articles for publications popular with expats and tourists such as FFV, Spa Asia magazine, Bali Style and writes her own column, Beauty & Health, in Bali Advertiser.

Few of us are able to go to a spa every week. But with the advice of this experienced Asian-based expert, you’ll be able to create professional spa treatments at home using natural or organic products: facials, body scrubs and wraps, hair conditioning treatments, aromatic baths, manicures and pedicures plus how to host a spa party at home with your friends as well as recommended treatments for sunburns, aromatherapy, teens, couples and men. A full one-third of spa goers are men who seek relief for stress and sore muscles by using hydrating facials, skin cleansers and toners, anti-aging egg and seaweed masks and manicures for hands and feet.

Chapter Eight contains a lexicon of spa treatments as well as illuminating stories about how other cultures approach beauty and relaxation. Hartman explains the history of spas in Europe and Asia, the European medicinal spa, the American Spa Revolution, the remarkable success stories of Martha Tilaar’s products, Kim and Kary Collier’s Jamu Traditional Spa, the genesis of Asia’s first destination spa and the emergence of spas as centers for healing and nourishing the body.

This book is not just about performing treatments, but gives tips on how to create a serene ambiance in the home – a huge part of the overall spa experience. Your home can be turned into a spa in which flowers, lighting, aromatherapy scents, herbal teas, candles, soothing music and privacy are essential. In a Sparty, participants give each other facials and treatments. To create a pleasing atmosphere, the space as well as the products are prepared beforehand. Choose a propitious date – a birthday, graduation, anniversary or job promotion – for such a celebration among friends.

The book’s recipes are based or adapted from authentic Asian traditional treatments unique to Asia, including recipes from 22 Bali spas that have been used for hundreds of years from the royal courts down to local villages. Recipe instructions and usage are clearly written and easy to follow. Most treatments use everyday ingredients that can already be found in the kitchen or bathroom. On Bali, supplies like honey, yogurt and fruit are readily available at the supermarket or traditional market. A few recipes employ exotic ingredients.

Readers might be challenged to find almond oil, apricot oil, jojoba oil, macadamia nut oil, grapeseed oil, Shea butter, cocoa butter and beeswax, but Hartman suggests alternatives available in tropical Indonesia. What to look for in essential oils is explained, covering issues that oil users need to be aware of. Hartman recommends going for the best quality and the highest purity that you can afford, avoiding fragrance oils and synthetic oils. The Young Living brand, though not cheap, make excellent essential oils.

Hartman explains why harsh chemical ingredients are so hard on the skin, hair and internal organs. She warns against using popular mercury based skin-whitening products which introduce dangerous heavy metals into the system. Out of curiosity, I examined the list of ingredients on Indonesian-branded shampoos and hair conditioners that my family uses in the bathrooms of our home and found the harmful ingredients Methyl and Propyl.

Hartman first identifies and then gives guidelines on how to care for dry, oily, combination, balanced and sensitive skins. Though many people in S.E. Asia have naturally radiant dark brown skin, due to an extensive diet of fried foods many in the region suffer from excessively oily skin so should use products only suitable for that type of skin.


Her two all-important beauty tips:

1) adopt a daily skin-care routine at night and in the morning, which moisturizes the skin and protects it from environmental assault;

2) do regular facials that improve the skin and slow down the aging process.


To research her book, Shari asked friends who managed famous 5-star spas to contribute recipes. Taksu Spa and the Maya Ubud Resort on Bali, the Puri Mas Resort on Lombok and the Chiva-Som in Thailand were delighted to contribute recipes and photos.

The large format size allows you to lay the book on the counter and create your concoctions hands-free. The large print makes the instructions easy to read from a distance. Practical information, such as a complete list of supplies and equipment necessary for spa treatments, is included. It’s a pity there is no index or Table of Contents. In order to find out how to make a homemade hair conditioner, I had to page through the 236-page book until I found the chapter “Rejuvenate Your Tresses” to discover how to make hair cream baths.

Our grandmothers used natural products that in bygone eras were easily available in the kitchen. Now it’s time to turn back the clock. The Spa Guru’s Home Spa does a commendable job of helping you stay young looking with beautiful skin and few wrinkles using professional recipes in the comfort of your home at a fraction of the price.

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