Displaying 1 - 10 of 22 entries.

Scenes from the Face Cradle

  • Posted on July 4, 2017 at 9:50 pm

What do you think about when you’re in the face cradle staring at the floor or your massage therapist’s painted toenails? If you’re like me, a million thoughts run through your head during those 60 minutes. Even with eyes shut, lights dimmed, and body warmed, an array of odd and ridiculous things cross my mind.

My first instinct is to relax of course. So I take some deep breaths, close my eyes, and allow my draped body to sink into the table. The therapist starts gently applying lotion and kneading my tight spots. And that’s when the craziness begins. My eyes open and I think, “Did I e-mail my client back before I left? I think I did. No, wait, I think I left in draft. Crap.” Then I close my eyes again and try to relax as my therapist firmly elbows her way into my right scapula. I quietly “Ohm” to myself but don’t want to meditate because then I risk falling asleep, which I do not want to do.

The therapist asks me if the pressure is okay. “Perfect,” I say. It is killing me, however. Why am I always so quick to please while on the table? Maybe I am succumbing to that infuriating Western “no pain/no gain” mentality. Or maybe it is because of the vulnerability of my nakedness on the table. Or is it because I just trust that she knows what she’s doing?

I close my eyes again. “I wonder how old Jerry Seinfeld is. I should’ve told him I had a crush on him before the whole world knew him. Who knows – I could’ve become Valerie Seinfeld… I can’t wait to see who Rachel picks on The Bachelorette. I watch too much TV. I need to study for my meditation certification. Testing is coming up.”

My nose itches, but I have to move my arm to scratch it, and I feel funny doing that. I know that’s ridiculous, but I don’t want to interrupt the calm of the massage. She’s palpating my glutes and what if moving makes me … ya know.

“It’s almost July Fourth, and I hope I get some really good coupons in my e-mail. I’m going to make a Fourth of July resolution – I’m giving up Candy Crush. There, I said it out loud, in my head, so I have to do it. I need to get that crack in my windshield fixed. Damn, I think I’m out of almond milk.”

My therapist removes the face cradle and is turning me over now. She slathers too much lotion on my neck and shoulders. It gets in my hair. I don’t say anything. There are only 15 minutes left of my massage. My knots are loosening. My thoughts are not.

What I think about next is this: I love my massage therapist. She truly does help with my kinks, and she lessens my chronic headaches. But I don’t think she wants to give her pat answers and not to speak up about what I want. So, next time she asks about the pressure, I will gather the courage to say it is a bit too deep. I will ask if she can use a tad less lotion. And if my nose itches, I’ll scratch it. This doesn’t mean I won’t think about one of my editing projects or whether my United miles are expiring soon or I won’t list the states alphabetically, from Alabama to Wyoming (yes, I did that). I’ll just try to be a bit less neurotic with my aim to please. My thoughts? Well, they’re beyond hope.

Sheet Masks

  • Posted on February 15, 2017 at 3:12 am

One of the hottest and newest trends in skincare is sheet masks, and I can’t get enough of them. Not to be confused with face masks, sheet masks are thin, single-use gel- or cloth-soaked films placed on the faced for 20­–30 minutes. These moistened facial sheets are infused with hydrating, firming, brightening, or anti-aging serums such as hyaluronic acid, peptides, vitamin C, antioxidants, tea tree oil, and licorice extract. Sheet masks have been an Asian staple for ages, and their popularity is growing exponentially in the US. They are a quick and fun pick-me-up for the face. A single sheet mask costs between $4.00 and $12.00. Here are just a few I’ve tried.

Boscia Sake Brightening Hydrogel Mask This sheet mask is gluten-free, in case you choose to eat it or some drips into your mouth. (Just kidding.) Although it has a slight cocoa scent, so you might be tempted. This sheet comes in two pieces, which makes it easier to apply and less likely to rip. Although it said to massage the remaining essence into the skin, there was nothing to rub in because my skin absorbed it all. It says to follow up with a moisturizer. This sheet mask claims to brighten, firm, and hydrate and boasts a “high concentration of sake.” Rich in enzymes and amino acids, sake is known to boost hydration and brightening of the skin.

Le Mieux Moisture Infusion Mask This is a cloth sheet mask, not a gel. It was somewhat perfumy. It stuck to my face better than some of the others. I could stand or walk without it falling off. It claims to contain “the most stable vitamin C.” It also “provides a unique cooling sensation.” This is true; actually, my face was uncomfortably cold, although most sheet masks initially shock the face with a cold, wet sensation when first applied. But it was silky smooth after rubbing it in post-removal. It did not leave my face feeling sticky, as some of the others did.

Le Mieux Sheet Mask

Tony Moly Tea Tree Soothing Face Mask Sheet This sheet mask says, “I’m real.” I’m not sure what that means, but it sounded cute. This Tony Moly version (there are many) is a three-layer cloth sheet that “balances and soothes skin tones.” It offered excellent coverage and good clinginess. It had a slightly raw, musky scent, which was not unpleasant. I do believe it balanced my skin tone. I could swear I saw an evenness to my skin afterward.

Tony Moly_im_real_mask_sheet_tea_tree

Dr. Jart+ Brightening Infusion This hydrogel sheet mask immediately split in two upon removing it from the package. But then I realized that it actually came with a split across the face, which I wasn’t crazy about because it left a line from one cheek to the other, just under my nose, without coverage. I placed it on my face for 30 minutes, as instructed. It had a pleasant flowery scent. After massaging the remaining serum into my skin, as the directions indicated on all the sheet masks, it left my skin feeling sticky afterward.

Dr. Jart sheet mask

Too Cool For School Egg Cream Mask My favorite of all the masks! This microfiber sheet mask was less flimsy than the others and came with a strong mesh backing, which ensured it would not rip upon opening. It fit my face perfectly. (Some of the others—especially the ones by 100% Pure—were humongous and seemed to be made for an elephantine-sized face.) This sheet mask boasted superb adherence to my face and smelled delish. The ingredients include collagen and egg yolk, so vegans beware. I used the “firming” version (it also comes in “hydration” and “pore tightening”), and it did firm my skin but did not leave it feeling tight.

Egg Cream Mask Firming

Tip: After removing the mask, it will still be soaked with product. Before tossing it, rub the excess onto your hands!

Holiday Spa Gifts (A Few of My Favorite Things!)

  • Posted on December 12, 2014 at 9:21 pm

Need a holiday spa gift? Of course you do. Think: mom, sister, cousin, co-worker, friend, or you! Since it’s that time of year, I thought I’d share with you some of my spa faves. Most of you know I try hundreds of products every year, and it’s hard to choose the best spa gifts, but here’s a sampling:

shea-soap_lSOAP – My favorite creamy, lightly-scented, affordable, fair trade, planet-friendly soap hails from The Body Shop! Their shea soap is a gentle vegetable-based soap at only $4.00. The perfect spa stocking stuffer. The brazil nut soap has a heartier scent and is great for men.

body-scrub-lg3BODY SCRUB Hands- down, it’s 100% Pure’s Coconut Body Scrub. This scrub is so decadent that I feel like I just swathed myself in a high-end spa treatment every time I use it. It doesn’t smell like the traditional coconut of, say, a sunscreen, but more of a toasted scent. It leaves a glowing shimmer after you leave the shower that lasts for hours. Be careful, though – it leaves an oily residue on the tub floor and can be slippery. This would be my ideal spa gift.

nr_sleep_rgb1-390x500ESSENTIAL OILS – I’ve always found essential oils to be a tricky business. I wonder how pure they are, and I never order them online because I have to smell them first. Some are, let’s just say, not nose friendly. My favorite brand right now is H. Gillerman Organics. Touted to resolve stress-related mind/body issues, Hope’s products deliver. She is well-steeped in the ways of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and her oils are long-lasting, organic, and healing, and they make the perfect spa gift. My three favorites are Sleep Remedy, Stress Remedy, and Travel Remedy. Next up on my list (hubs, you reading?) is the Tension Remedy, perfect for headaches.  

eu_spa-reggae_neckpillow-spamask-heatwrapNECK WRAP AND EYE MASK - As a connoisseur of neck wraps, I found the crème de la crème. The company is Sonoma Lavender, and they make the softest, heftiest Eucalyptus & Lavender Spa Neck Pillow and Eucalyptus & Lavender Sinus Mask. These plush, soft spa indulgences warm up in the microwave and offer gently scented healing lavender and eucalyptus to the neck and shoulders, or to tired eyes. Perfect for sinus congestion.

86130_instinctual_clay_masque_1BODY CLAY MASQUE - What’s a spa gift without a sumptuous, eco-friendly, full-body mud mask from SpaRitual? Slather on the silky red earth clay to towel-dried skin for ten minutes, then shower it off. You will feel like you just reveled in a high-end spa treatment. SpaRitual Instinctual Clay Masque.

buckwheat-pillow-3BUCKWHEAT PILLOW – I bought my first buckwheat pillow when I was living in Pennsylvania. I fell so in love with that pillow that I’ve been buying them ever since, although they practically last forever. I own three of them now, and trust me, once you go buck you never go back. Buckwheat pillows are more comfortable than a typical pillow because the hulls conform to the shape of your head and neck. You can adjust the fit by simply molding the pillow with your hands. It matches your body shape. And talk about comfort! This is truly the perfect spa gift. I got mine in two different sizes (one for traveling) from Sachi Organics, a company I highly recommend for quality buckwheat pillows!

Coffee Spa Treatments & Products = Yes!

  • Posted on January 14, 2014 at 6:45 pm

Happy New Year, everyone! I decided to try something different this year. Instead of writing my own resolutions, I’ve come up with a few for you, my readers! First resolution (repeat along with me): I will try to get to that spa I’ve had my eye on. (Day spas count.) Two: I will try at least one new skincare or hair product. Three: I will follow Val The Spa Gal religiously and tell everyone I ever met to do the same. If you have any issues with these resolutions, you can contact my complaint department. However, I did give them the year off. Okay, now for today’s topic: Coffee + Spa = Good. How popular is this caffeinated crowd pleaser in spa products?

Coffee Massage

Coffee is loaded with antioxidants, which fight free radicals (those pesky molecules that wreak havoc on the skin), but the greater benefit for some is its caffeine content. Next time you wake up with puffy eyes and you don’t have cucumbers or hemorrhoid cream available—a remedy that works because it constricts the blood vessels—try coffee grounds. The caffeine found in coffee beans acts as a natural anti-inflammatory. One way to use coffee for tired or puffy eyes is to either retain some brewed coffee grounds, wait for them to cool, and then apply them under your eyes and on the lids. The other method is to simply dip a cotton ball or face cloth in fresh coffee, let it cool, and do the same. Using the coffee grounds directly might yield better results.

The two products I use at home both contain coffee beans, among other ingredients. Farmhouse Fresh Triple Shot Caramel Coffee (12 oz.; $34) is a sweet java-scented luscious body polish, with a yummy hint of caramel. It contains the arabica coffee bean seed extract, caffeine, shea butter, and coconut, and is paraben- and sulfate-free. Add a handful to water in the shower and use as a full-body scrub. It’s absolutely delicious.

Farmhouse Fresh Triple Shot Caramel Coffee

Invigo-Spa makes a hearty coffee scrub derived from such places as Madagascar, Ceylon, Ethiopia, India, France, Arabia, and Brazil. This face and body scrub is much more coarse than Farmhouse Fresh’s product and evokes a bolder, more robust coffee scent that can be overwhelming, yet it offers a heavy-duty exfoliation. Although it’s labeled as a face and body scrub, I prefer a gentler texture in a facial scrub.

For a natural indulgence, sans synthetic chemicals or toxic preservatives, try the Cocoa Kona Coffee Body Cream (8 oz.; $17), or the Organic Coffee Bean Caffeine Eye Cream (0.5 oz.; $17), both by 100% Pure. Check out all their vegan, gluten-free, coffee/caffeine products, including coffee cherry treatments for sun damage. 

Coffee for facial

Spas all over the world offer various coffee- and caffeine-infused treatments, and what better way to perk up the mind and body, and fight inflammation while on a spa vacation than a coffee-inspired pick-me-up? Many dermatologists agree that it can reduce the appearance of cellulite, but don’t hail it as a cure-all. The Anushka Spa in West Palm Beach offers a Slimming Café Wrap, (60 minutes; $110) is a hot cellulite-busting treatment, with espresso coffee grounds, cinnamon bark, and green tea. The raised body temperature promotes cellular metabolism and eliminates water retention.

Treat your feet to a Natural Coffee Bean Spa Pedicure ($55) at iNail Artistry & Spa in Kansas City. They will soak your tootsies in a bath of ground coffee beans, then apply a coffee mask and rejuvinate you from calves to digits. They occasionally offer specials, contests, and Groupons.

What would the coffee capital of America—Seattle—be without coffee-drenched spa treatments? Paule Attar Salon and Spa delivers a blissful 60-minute Anti-Toxin Body Wrap With Green Coffee, for $102. The Salish Lodge & Spa is a gorgeous rustic getaway that will revive you with a 50-minute Northwest Coffee Exfoliation (click on “Body Therapies”) made from locally grown roast coffee and Dead Sea salt, for $125.

Coffee Foot Soak

Ever thought about bathing in coffee? Hakone Kowakien Yunessun, a hot springs spa and water park in Hakone, Japan, offers this quirky soaking option. They also offer tubs of green tea and wine. (Int+81) 0460-82-4126.

Coffee Spa in Japan

The Spa at the Hotel Galvez, in Galveston Island, Texas, will treat your cheeks and peepers to a CoffeeBerry Facial (50 minutes; $115), an organic delight infused with anti-aging Whole Coffee Fruit product. 

Makes Scents Pumpkin Spa Line Giveaway!

  • Posted on October 21, 2013 at 8:49 pm

Makes Scents Natural Spa Line and Val The Spa Gal have teamed up for a scrumptious pumpkin spa line giveaway! The lucky winner will receive either a Pumpkin Sorbet Body Scrub (7.8 oz.; $25); a Pumpkin Mousse Body Butter (7 oz.; $20); or the newly released Pumpkin Spice Eco Soy Candle (10 oz.; $25).

Pumpkin Sorbet Body ScrubI sampled the body scrub and the mousse. (Yes, I have a tough job!) The body scrub is a blissful blend of dried pumpkin, raw sugar, sweet almond, coconut, rice bran and avocado oil. This is a strong spa-industry-grade scrub. The hefty crystals slough off dead skin cells and leave you with a light glow and a powerful pumpkin scent that will last long into the night. I had to make sure to mix the oil into the crystals (which I did with my finger), or else it began to separate. Also, it left a light oil on the bathtub floor, so be careful because it might be slippery.

The Pumpkin Mousse Body Butter was light in texture, but strong in scent. The whipped white pumpkin-scented butter glided on easily and worked well as a gentle massage lotion, which I used on my feet … a lot! I detected a hint of cinnamon, which I did not notice in the heartier body scrub. The aroma is also robust, like the scrub, and lasts long after its application. Delicious!

Pumpkin Mousse Body Butter

Makes Scents Natural Spa Line owner, Heather Kreider, says, “Since we strive to use as many natural ingredients as possible, we suggest using the products within six months of opening.” She also mentioned that they occasionally runs sales of 20% off throughout the year. Check the website often for seasonal offerings as well at Makes Scents Natural Spa Line

Pumpkin Spice Eco Soy Candle

 

 

 

Now for the CONTEST! Lucky for you, there are a number of ways to enter. It’s easy to pile up multiple entries. Good luck!

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Kid and Teen Spa Treatments Are in Vogue

  • Posted on September 20, 2013 at 2:51 am

It’s back to school. A new year. Maybe even a new grade. Unfamiliar faces. Homework. Stress. No worries! Kid and teen spa treatments are here to help.

Spas are getting hip to the idea that teens might want to experience the benefits of spa treatments. They might be going through a period of acne and could use a facial to help diminish imperfections. Perhaps they are involved in sports and could use a massage to ease muscle soreness. My little sister (from Big Brothers/Big Sisters) is 12 and going through a serious nail-design addiction.

Teen facials

Spas that offer teen and kid treatments tend to focus on hair, manicures and pedicures, makeup application, and short massages. Prices are typically lower than adult spa rates and are generally between $25 and $80 a treatment. If you’re ready to help your teen de-stress with a spa treatment (or you are a teen yourself), here’s a list of spas that are ready to indulge the younger sect:

The Agua Serena Spa offers treatments for “The Little Spa Goer.” This sprawling sanctuary is located in the Hyatt Regency in Indian Wells, California (Palm Springs area) and boasts one of the most extensive spa menus I’ve ever seen. Their youth treatments are designed for youngsters ages 10 to 15 and include “Happy Feet/Happy Hands,” a 30- or 60-minute mani-pedi, a “Mini Duet,” which is a 30- or 60-minute massage with a same-gender therapist, alongside a parent or adult, and a 30-minute“Elementary Skincare” session, which introduces young ones to proper skin care. 760-341-1000

Tweens Pedicures

The Top-Notch Resort & Spa in Stowe, Vermont pampers teens of all ages with a “Total Teen Facial,” a 50-minute indulgence that includes cleansing, toning, steam, mask, and facial massage. Other teen pleasures include a 25-minute “Super Sugar Scrub” or “Fitness Massage.” Teenagers can receive a 50-minute one-on-one session with a certified personal trainer in the “Teen Tune-Up.” 800-451-8686

From nose to toes, kids are spoiled at the Scooops Kid Spa at the Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City, Michigan. Their sizable menu includes a la carte luxuries such as a chocolate facial and a vanilla or strawberry mani-pedi, but they also feature teen/tween packages such as a “Single Scooop,” a delicacy that includes an ice cream flavored manicure, a Scooops plush robe, and a swag bag, all for $79.99. 866-478-9653

At Hawk’s Cay Resort in Duck Key, Florida, guests ages 8 to 15 can not only wallow in the “Jazzy Island Manicure and Pedicure,” chill with a Swedish massage (performed with a bathing suit on), learn French braid styling, and enjoy makeup lessons, they can also swim with the bottelnose dolphins that grace the turquoise waters of the Keys. 1-888-395-5539

Kids four years old and up can revel in the sumptuous choices at Isabelle’s European Day Spa in San Antonio, Texas. The little ones (ages 4-12) are treated to facials, pedicures, and haircuts, while the 13-17-year-olds can relax with a French manicure, waxing, facial, and more. 1-210-493-5544

Tween girl getting manicure

Today’s Tip

Check with each spa on their policies regarding children and teens. Ask what ages they serve, what treatments they offer, and whether gender preferences are guaranteed. Some spas require a parent or other adult to be present during the treatment. Make sure your kid wants to partake in the spa treatment before booking it. Most websites offer descriptions and prices of their offerings. If not, call and ask.

 

 

The Spa at Camelback: Hospitality at its Finest

  • Posted on August 20, 2013 at 7:51 pm

I arrived at the Spa at Camelback on a sweltering day in mid-July. Did I mention that it’s in Phoenix? The temperature throughout the week hovered in the low 100’s. But the price was so irresistible that it was worth every melting penny in my pocket.

Camelback Spa

The Camelback Inn Resort & Spa set the tone for their outstanding customer service the minute I pulled in. Despite the Arizona heat, a group of greeters met me in the parking lot, with smiles. The front desk cheerily welcomed me as well and pointed out on a map which building I’d be staying in.

My room was missing the spa slippers and blow dryer. I called the front desk, and they immediately sent me the slippers, but the blow dryer took a long time to arrive, as my hair began to dry, style-less, in the desert heat. When someone finally knocked on my door to give me the blow dryer, it occurred to me that someone had just gone to the store to purchase the brand-new appliance.

Vichy shower

The next day, I hit the spa. The check-in was simple, and again, a round of smiles, “My pleasure,” and “Please let me know if you have any questions.” The desert rain loofah was heavenly, with the Vichy shower washing away my worries about the due date of my next book review. (I even got to keep the loofah.) The Native Hot Stone Massage ended blissfully, with my therapist gently shaking a rain stick around my body. The salon at the spa even lent me a round brush to take to my room when I realized that I had forgotten to pack mine.

Dining options overflowed from their array of on-site establishments. Rita’s Kitchen offered gluten-free choices and “gluten-free upon request” selections. The beet & goat cheese salad had me peeing red for days because I simply could not stop ordering it.

My particular package offered $159 a night for my room, plus a $50 daily credit good for the spa, golf, and other activities. When I ran into a snafu with a spa store purchase, I mentioned it to Joseph, the uber-kind front desk manager, and he immediately apologized and offered me a $25 resort credit.

Camelback Spa_Rita's Kitchen

I honestly cannot think of anything that disappointed at the Camelback Inn Resort & Spa, and I am one scrutinous spa-goer. Well, okay, I wish they had told me that they were going to have to purchase my replacement blow dryer and that it would take a while. But how could I complain while waiting in a spacious room with a patio outside my sliding-glass doors and a pool I could walk to from there?

If any of you have been to the Spa at Camelback, I’d love to hear your story.

 

Fight Aging Skin With Six Simple Ingredients

  • Posted on July 31, 2013 at 8:17 pm

Aging skin gracefully is a wonderful thing. Looking fantastic while doing it is even better. I have six words for you to help your skin rival that of a girl in her twenties: Vitamin C; Hyaluronic acid; Matrixyl; Argireline; Hydroquinone; Retinol. You’ve probably heard of some of these ingredients, but they are not often combined, forcing you to buy six different bottles. Well, I’ve managed to get all of these in just four.

Here’s a crash course on why Vitamin C; Hyaluronic acid; Matrixyl; Argireline; Hydroquinone; and Retinol will save your skin:

Skincare Fun

Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid): A key to producing collagen, the protein that firms and strengthens skin and also takes a hike as we age. Collagen is essential for preserving healthy connective tissue. It firms the skin and helps maintain its youthful appearance. Vitamin C also helps protect the skin from sun damage. The challenge is that you need a fair amount as it is not terribly stable in liquid form. I use a 20% solution, which is one the highest I’ve found, yet it doesn’t irritate my skin.

Hyaluronic Acid: The wrinkle enemy. Created naturally in our bodies, this beneficial little bugger also starts saying hasta la night-night as the clock ticks. Luckily, hyaluronic acid is easily absorbed in the skin. Before topical serums arrived on the market, this complex sugar was used as an injectable to plump the skin. It protects against the sun’s harmful UVB rays and adds moisture and elasticity back into maturing skin. The Skin Science is a company that combines hyaluronic acid with the next two skin savers: Matrixyl and Arigerline.

Matrixyl: The best kept secret in skincare, even according to scientists’ published studies in Molecular Pharmaceutics. A powerful peptide-based treatment, this is another collagen booster and the brilliant brainchild of the Sederma Corporation. A recent study from Reading University claims that Matrixyl “can almost double the amount of collagen that the cells in our body produce, provided the concentration is high enough.”

Argireline: Dr. Oz himself touts Argireline as the suggested alternative to Botox. Well, if the cute doc says so, who am I to argue? At a recommended concentration of 5 to 10%, this peptide should be strong enough to penetrate the skin. If you can’t afford the needle, Argireline is your Botox-lite.

Skincare Ingredients

Hydroquinone: I visited my dermatologist last year and said I’d like to lighten the brown age spots that have been partying on my skin, sans an invitation. He laughed, because the so-called “spots,” he said, were more like blonde microscopic dots. I disagreed, so he gave me a prescription for hydroquinone 10%. While hydroquinone is the queen of brown spot annhiliation, I do not recommend using a 10% concentration. Let’s just say it mauled my skin with scabby bloody blisters. The doctor’s office did admit that it’s strong and that not all skins respond kindly to it. So I bought a 2% concentration, which I believe is the highest you can buy without a prescription.

Retinol: The mother of all collagen restorers. All-Trans Retinol 2% from NCN Professional Skincare helps restore collagen type I, III (the one we lose in our youth), and IV. Their formula is paraben- and chemical-free.

To get the hyaluronic acid, Matrixyl, Argireline, (and even COQ10, an antioxidant that fights harmful free radicals) all in one, I suggest Active Cell Repair. You can get it at The Skin Science. The best (and most potent) formula for liquid Vitamin C is from Cosmetic Skin Solutions. For the hydroquinone solution, try Murad. Yes, it’s pricey ($60.00), but Murad is a trusted company. Sometimes Sephora or Ulta offer specials on Murad products.

Let me know if you’ve bought any of these formulas and whether they’re working for you. I have truly noticed a tightening of the small lines developing around my eyes, and my brown spots have not worsened.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Massage Therapists Want You to Know!

  • Posted on July 2, 2013 at 4:41 am

In my ongoing effort to open the lines of communication between clients and massage therapists and other body workers, I asked two well-seasoned therapists what they wish clients would know. What you read might surprise you.

Neil, a massage therapist for 25 years, works at a high-end spa in Arizona, and he’s seen it all. I asked him what he wished clients knew, in an effort to make his job easier. Not surprisingly, his number one issue is cleanliness. His biggest pet peeve is dirty feet. “Yes, it’s hot here in Arizona,” he said, “but we have showers. People don’t realize that if they wear black sandals in this heat, the black will rub off on their feet.” He told me a story about a guy who came in for a massage straight from the golf course, and had sand between his toes. Neil said, “I told him I wouldn’t work on him until he showers. He actually thanked me and said he felt so much better afterwards.”

Smelly Feet

“Some people come in with really bad attitudes,” says Neil. “You wouldn’t think this would happen at a spa, but it does.” He said some of his favorite clients have been celebrities. “They’re just so thankful to have some alone time, without cameras in their face that they make the best clients.” He admits that most clients are easy to deal with, though. “It’s the 1 in 20 high-crust spa visitor that’s difficult.”

I got a good laugh when he offered that, “Men are wimps. They can’t take the pressure.” And he confessed that the thinner the woman, the more pressure she usually requests. When I asked him why he supposes that is, he said, “Probably because they have less adipose (fat) tissue.” The slimmer the client, the less pressure is needed to get to the muscle.

Megan, a massage therapist based in Santa Fe, offers a different opinion on what she wishes massage clients knew. Although she doesn’t have a particular problem with smelly feet, she admits some massage therapists will do the feet first and then the face, if a client comes in with stinky feet. I thought this was a brilliant way of deterring clients with toxic tootsies to schedule a massage before washing.

Tipping

Other things on Megan’s wish list? Silencing cell phones, speaking in a quieter voice, avoiding wearing strong fragrances, and if you are a smoker, trying to avoid smoking a cigarette right before a massage. “If you wear contacts, they can be uncomfortable in the face cradle, for some people, so consider sporting your glasses to the session,” says Megan. And when I asked her about tipping, she said, “When tipping, be aware that your therapist is probably only making maybe one-third of what you’re paying for the massage, so an extra couple of bucks, if you really enjoyed it, can go a long way.” I suppose this only applies to massage therapists and body workers who are employed by a spa. Those who work for themselves probably appreciate the tips as well, but are not handing part of the fee over to an employer.

So, there you have it. Thoughts? Opinions? Suggestions? Leave ‘em here!

 

 

Spa Pet Peeves

  • Posted on May 29, 2013 at 2:33 am

Today’s post focuses on spa pet peeves, highlighting spa and massage clients who have had less-than-amazing experiences. My goal is to help both the therapist and the client understand each other better, which will lead to an awesome spa experience every time. In airing pet peeves, I hope to open communication between the client and therapist. For massage therapists and other body workers: Please read and feel free to respond! Next week’s post will be all about you and your client pet peeves.

Complaint Department

I don’t have many spa grievances, but I will mention one. If I’m paying for a 50-minute massage, please give me a 50-minute massage. Starting late, or ending early, cuts into therapy time that I’ve paid for. And most massage therapists, even when beginning on time, spend the first few minutes very lightly grazing their fingers across your body, over the sheets and blanket, as if to “prepare” you for the massage. They might rock you a bit or even ask you to take a few deep breaths first before they begin.  I’d much prefer they skip these steps and simply get on with the massage. More time is also wasted when they leave you to get undressed for much longer than you need. It takes less than a minute to disrobe and get on the table, yet most therapists give you five minutes or more.

Debbie, a health administrator in San Diego, had been enjoying pedicures from the same place for 8 years, until she contracted a severe infection that required 2 weeks of antibiotics. Unfortunately, she did not report it and instead just stopping visiting that spa. But when something like this occurs, it’s important to say something to the spa manager, because your complaint could lead to stricter disinfecting practices, which are essential for spas that offer manicures and pedicures.

Don't Like My Therapist

Would it annoy you to listen to your aesthetician blabbing to a coworker while painting your toenails? When Bonnie, a Santa Fe, New Mexico, resident went to a local salon for a pedicure, her nail tech, along with the one sitting next to her working on another client’s nails, were “verbally bitch-slapping each other the entire time,” according to Bonnie. She did complain to management and received an apology, nothing more.

Jill, a Sonoma, California, resident prefers that her massage therapist not speak at all (unless necessary) during the massage. I usually prefer quiet as well, and appreciate it when the therapist knows when light chatting is okay and when it’s time to be silent.

Bad Pedicure

Communication is so important when it comes to the intimate nature of body therapies. Kindness and respect also go a long way. But when Beth Spottswood’s massage therapist intrusively threw talk therapy into the equation, even claiming that Beth’s ankle pain was her mother’s fault, the therapist had overstepped her boundaries. You can read about her story in the San Francisco Gate.

Do you have any pet peeves for your massage therapist, aesthetician, or spa? Let’s open the lines of communication. Next week, the therapists speak out. If you are a therapist who would like to chime in, please e-mail me at Val@ValTheSpaGal.com