Talking Scents and Stones with Paolo Lai

I've written before about how scent can be instrumental when it comes to drowning out digital 'noise' and feeling more connected and present in the world. Combining fragrant essential oils with the healing energies of certain crystals can take things a step further. Case in point is Paolo Lai's Moon Mist, which he mixes up himself and hands out to clients after his facial reflexology treatments (but hopefully he'll make them available from on his website - hint hint!). The idea is that you mist a halo of this clever concoction of essential oils - like uplifting neroli - in crystal-charged waters is just the thing before a big meeting or just before you go to sleep, to help restore equilibrium and diffuse tense emotional states.

The ancient art of healing crystals has become a hot topic in the skincare world - with 'Gua Sha' stones made of jade and rose quartz being used more and more in the West (they've been used in China for centuries) as a means of massaging and rejuvenating the complexion by encouraging lymphatic drainage. Paolo himself uses rose quartz (together with skin-transforming rosehip oil) in his reflexology facials, where certain pressure points on the face (as with the feet in traditional reflexology) are targeted as a means of healing the rest of the body - as well as restoring one's mood.

I bumped into Paolo whilst getting my hair cut in Neville's salon where he's based, and we quickly got chatting due to our shared interest in the above. I often keep crystals by my desk at work, to the amusement of my colleagues, as they're soothing to look at and if they have any healing and negativity-deflecting abilities then so much the better. I 'cleanse' them regularly as Paolo suggests (more on this below) and if there's a choice between decorating my apartment with plants and flowers or crystals, I'd choose the latter every time (they don't die on you for one thing). I'm still on the fence about 'the psychic realm', but I definitely think there's a reason you feel more grumpy after riding on the Underground, even if it isn't that busy. I believe it's because living in a city and being constantly surrounded by people with their own energies can be arguably as detrimental as all those germs and bugs you're coming into contact with. Plus, everyone has probably met someone who could be described as an 'emotional vampire' i.e. someone who can leave you feeling drained and depressed after a few minutes in their company. And this is where crystals come into effect, helping to counterbalance the negative effects of other people's energies, as well as helping to disperse your own.

With the need for digital detoxing and taking time to 'check in' becoming more and more pertinent, there's a lot to be said for incorporating ancient arts and rituals involving scents and stones. I love the alchemic nature of crystal healing, with each type of stone possessing its own distinct properties (Judy Hall's book is a good introduction for those who are interested). Rose quartz, which Paolo is fond of, is renowned for its healing and calming powers - which for my stressed skin was a godsend. I've had crystal facials twice, and both times I've slipped into a state between sleeping and waking, whereas a more traditional facial with soft music and a few oils has never had quite the same effect. If you're wound up or overworked, I'd definitely recommend paying Paolo a visit, otherwise invest in a rose quartz stone like this one to sweep over your face each  morning (read more about how to do it here). 

Paolo's passion for crystals and holistic healing is infectious and you'll definitely emerge more intrigued about this ancient art, if not a fully-fledged convert. In the weeks since my treatment, I've been burning palo santo wood in my flat to calm and clear the mind, as well as clary sage to counterbalance negative energy. Plus I've been carrying black tourmaline with me, especially when travelling on the tube, as it's known to deflect negative energy (it can't hurt right?). Later on, I decided to pose some more questions to Paolo, to find out more about this fascinating art.

How did you first become interested in crystals and facial reflexology?
I started becoming interested in crystals 15 years ago, even though I have always been weirdly drawn to them since I was a child. The colours, shape and vibrations they hold. Then I began to understand that could help me feel better and reduce stress. 

I started studying reflexology 10 years ago, after training in Indian Head Massage, I realised that key points on the head, face and feet could help heal the body and balance the whole system.

The whole body is represented on the feet and not only on a physical level, but a spiritual and emotional one too. A few years later, I became interested in facial reflexology, it was the beginning of a new love story. Then after studying with amazing professionals in that field, I started mixing reflexology and crystals, especially stimulating points and areas of the face with crystal tools.

Why do you think scent has such strong healing abilities?
Smell can bring back memories that can heal us through difficult times. Specific oils and scents have different healing properties. The smell of cinnamon and vanilla, will bring me back to my childhood, when my mum use to bake. That makes me feel at ease and relaxes me. It takes me back to a very peaceful time In my life.

What are the key benefits of facial reflexology?
This treatment relaxes the body and stimulates reflexology points to enable the body to heal itself. It also improves lymphatic drainage and boosts circulation. Finally, it lifts the spirit and improves connection between the emotional and physical body.

Smell can bring back memories that can heal us through difficult times. Specific oils and scents have different healing properties.

Where did you get the idea for your 'Moon Mist' sprays?
I was always interested in using crystals in different ways. I found very interesting the changes that the moon has on our bodies. We are essentially made of water; if the moon influences tides, then it definitely influences our bodies and emotional states. The moon light charges the crystals and if you put them in water during the full moon, you will have an essence of crystals and moon light. Mixing the water with specific essential oils, then you’ll get the Moon Spray, an easy way to protect and recharge yourself any time, anywhere.

How do crystals work and how should they be used?
Different crystals have different powers, I always say crystals choose you not the other way round....we adopt them, they become part of our life. Our bodies are made of energy and they vibrate, crystals resonate with the vibration of the body, they help by filtering, lifting and changing vibrations from negative into positive. You can use tools made of crystals to work on the face and body, or you can place them around your home or work space and you can carry them on you.

We are essentially made of water; if the moon influences tides, then it definitely influences our bodies and emotional states. 

What are good ways of using crystals to deflect negative energy?
The crystals need to be cleansed, I use running tap water, imagining that the water goes through the crystal and removes everything.  Afterwards, I leave them In a bowl of fresh water and salt for few hours. Then I like to charge them under sunlight or moon light. Once they are charged, I 'program' them, holding them In my hand and focusing in what I want them to do for me.  I carry them with me everywhere, I place them under my pillow, around my room or I wear them as a necklace.  There are specific crystals that can help with negative energy: clear quartz is very good to transform negative energy into positive. Tourmaline, especially black tourmaline, is extremely protective but it is important to cleanse them regularly.

Can you suggest a quick and easy crystal ritual readers can incorporate into their everyday lives?
Make sure to always carry one with you - the one you love most or the one you are attracted to. 
I sometimes create a grid, for this you need 5 crystals - they can be all different, or all the same. I place one in the centre and four around it pointing out. This strengthens the power of the crystals, as it represents the circle, the universe. Just make sure you look after them and love them, they will love you back.

Paolo is based at Neville's Salon, 5 Pont St, Belgravia, London SW1X 9EJ / 020 7235 3654