Spa Etiquette

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There are a couple of upsides as we approach the end of summer. (Honestly, there are.) First of all, for anyone who has children, the bliss of not having to be a sort of Butlin’s Redcoat, day in, day out, dreaming up excitements to keep everyone from vegging out on the sofa – and secondly, we’re entering the Spa Season.

After all, who wants to be stuck in a sauna when the sun’s shining…? It seems a waste of a summer’s day to spend it in a day spa. But at this time of year, we always feel we deserve a little pampering – in part, as preparation for a very busy run-up to Christmas which will be upon all of us before we know it. We have some favourite day spas of our own:

We certainly believe that visiting a day spa can be one of the most therapeutic experiences going. Or it can be the opposite, if you lie there worrying whether you’ve breached the (un)dress code, or thinking of all the other things you ought to be getting on with, or wondering what on earth the therapist is doing to you. So here’s Beauty Bible’s guide to how to make the most of your longed-for pampering treat…

• If you feel guilty taking time off to pay a visit to a beauty salon or a spa, choose a date like a birthday or an anniversary for your appointment; then it’s sometimes easier to tell yourself you deserve it.

• Allow plenty of time to get to your appointment so you don’t arrive late and stressed. Otherwise you’ll be lying there obsessing about the time you’ve wasted, and trying to slow down your beating heart.

• A good therapist will tell you to take a few good, deep breaths before your treatment. When you arrive at the salon or day spa, start breathing properly from your abdomen and it’ll slow you right down before you can say ‘paper knickers’. (On which note, if you’d rather not wear these, speak up: many masseurs, for instance, don’t mind a bit. And have seen it all before, so many times…)

• Try not to drink coffee or other caffeinated drinks such as cola before an appointment; these can give you the jitters and make it harder to relax.

• Leave your fears in the locker room. Not to put too fine a point on it, so what if you have a moustache…? Who doesn’t? If you want to get rid of it, just SAY something (most therapists, alas, are not psychic). If you’re booked in for a Brazilian bikini wax but you’re not entirely sure what it entails, ASK…! If you’re worried about blackheads on your nose, say so. You’ll get the most out of your treatment, and leave feeling satisfied.

• If you’re unhappy about anything at all, speak up. If you dread having your scalp rubbed, for example, but you don’t say anything about it, it’s unlikely (again) that your therapist will pick this up via ESP, and you’ll spend your time on the massage couch enduring, rather than enjoying. If you don’t like the music or the scented candle they’re burning, say something. It’s about you, and what makes you happy.

• Leave the evening open, if you possibly can, in order to get the maximum out of this expensive treatment you’re paying for. You’re wasting your money if you have to tell a facialist not to do parts of the treatment because you’re going out to dinner and don’t want to look too flushed/look greasy/mess up your hair. If you don’t let the therapist give you ‘the works’, you’re not taking full advantage of your spa time.

• Don’t obsess about your flaws! Some people approach spa services with an overwlming insecurity; they’re so worried about what their massage therapist or aesthetitician might think of their legs, their pores or their pimples that they can’t relax. Always remember: not only do day spa service providers see breakouts, bumpy legs and large pores all day long; they’ve often got them! They’re not in the spa business to judge you; they’re in the spa business to help you.

• If you’re really short of time, find a salon where they can combine treatments so you get, say, a pedicure and manicure – even a shoulder rub – at the same time.

• If you still have trouble justifying a visit to a spa because it seems too self-indulgent, think of – say – a beautiful flower garden; if you don’t care for it, it won’t look its best. Women are the same: it’s vital to make time for the personal maintenance that will bring mind/body/spirit into balance and ensure you keep going like the Duracell bunny. We all need that sense of wellbeing that comes from recharging our batteries in order to take care of others…

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