When you need to recharge your batteries, retreat to your nearest day spa.
Ready for your close-up, glamour girl? Facials are a perfect pick-me-up and help to keep your skin clear, well hydrated, and healthy. Most include a deep cleansing, a soft massage to stimulate your skin and facial muscles, and gentle exfoliation, as well as the application of toners, a facial mask, and moisturizers. Manual extraction of clogged pores clears out dead skin cells, dirt, bacteria, and other debris. Not all facials are the same, however, and yours should be tailored to your skin type and needs. Talk with your aesthetician beforehand so that she has a good sense of your skin, including problem areas. When she’s done, she should supply you with product recommendations (samples too, perhaps) so that you are able to follow a productive at-home skincare regimen between facials.
Across the United States, massages are the most sought-after spa treatment. But which kind is best for you? Here, too, communication is key. Many people want an all-body therapeutic massage, but when they discuss their needs with the massage therapist, he or she may come up with a better plan.
- The Swedish massage is the most common. Therapists use a combination of gliding strokes, stretching, and kneading to relax muscles and ease aches and pains. Be sure to let your therapist know up front whether you prefer a lighter touch or a firm massage, and remember to speak up at any time if you’re uncomfortable.
- Deep-tissue massage is similar to the Swedish variety, but concentrates more on the muscles’ deep-tissue areas. This is often a good option for people with chronic muscle tension.
- Reflexology uses pressure points on the feet (and sometimes the hands) to encourage beneficial health effects on other parts of the body.
- Prenatal massages are tailored to the unique needs of expectant mothers. The therapist will use pillows to support the mother-to-be, and will rely on lighter strokes to reduce stress, relieve aches and pains, and even diminish swelling in the arms and legs. When booking a prenatal massage, make sure the therapist is certified in this area.
An à la carte menu
Part of what makes a spa session so personalized is the variety of add-ons that can be paired with such standard fare as facials, massages, and nail treatments.
- Aromatherapy makes use of essential oils, selected for their calming and healing benefits. During a massage, for example, these oils are added to the other massage oils and the soothing scents are released into the air.
- Hot stones are literally smooth, heated stones applied to pressure points to increase the flow of energy through the body. Many people add hot-stone therapy to their massages, manicures, or pedicures.
- Scalp treatments, in which oils are massaged into the scalp to improve hydration and circulation, are nice add-ons to facials or massages.
- Scrubs, wraps, and masks can transform an ordinary spa experience into something truly memorable. Sugar or salt scrubs, for example, are excellent for exfoliating dry, tired skin. A mud mask or marine wrap may sound messy, but it’s actually a great way to release toxins from the body while softening and hydrating the skin.