spa questions and answers

How To Spa Questions and Answers

Table of Contents

Spa Answers and Questions You want to know

spa q&a

In this issue of Spavelous “Now You Are in The Know” spa magazine we will address many of those spa answers and questions that may be holding you back, address why you should not procrastinate taking that first step and enjoying the spa in a manner that is comfortable and relaxing for you.

The holidays have ended, and soon Valentine’s Day will be here.  This year, many people were given spa gift certificates or spa gift cards as a gift and many more will receive spa gift certificates for Valentine’s Day.  Did you know that unfortunately, many of these may go unredeemed because the recipient has never been to a spa before and is afraid to ask the questions that would make them feel more comfortable in going to the spa?

Some of the questions you may have about spa etiquette, you may find the answer to in our Spavelous spa etiquette area.  The question that you may have about spa services, you may find the answers to in the spa terminology area or the spa TV area where you may view some of the services so you will have a better understanding of them.

In the meantime, here are some of the most frequently asked questions I receive.

The number one question about going to the spa is

What is a person to wear during a treatment?

This question takes many different forms:  Here are just a few ways this question has been asked:

what to wear during spa treatment

Will I have to be Naked for Spa Treatments?

naked for spa treatments

It is never required that you are unclothed in front of anyone in a spa. There are usually places where a person can change (even if it is in a bathroom stall). Towels and robes are generally provided and can keep you continually covered. Therapists are generally well trained in the “art of draping” which means that they leave the treatment room while you get under the sheet on the massage table, and they keep you covered at all times except for the area of the body they are massaging. They also leave the treatment room before you get up from the table.

The majority of spas in the United States will tell you to dress or undress to your own level of comfort because you will be properly draped with a sheet, towel or blanket and private areas will never be exposed.

Professional draping techniques allow therapists to work with clients who are completely unclothed without exposing the client. While I was training as a professional massage therapist, we were trained to drape properly, as if all our clients were completely nude.  We practiced proper draping techniques to ensure that our clients would never be exposed.  That way it didn’t matter what the client turned up in, you could still perform a professional service.

Can I leave my underwear on for Spa Treatments?

Feel free to leave your undergarments on.  The massage therapist will work around them while still having you properly draped with a towel or sheet.  However, if you prefer to do this, please wear garments that you are not concerned about as some oils or lotions may stain your undergarments.  General professional rule of thumb is that the therapist will stay one inch away from the undergarment and not work the area that the undergarment covers.


For men:  If you wear long boxers, keep in mind that the therapist will not be working any covered area so depending on how long they are they may only be working your calves and lower leg.

For woman:   If you desire to keep your bra on, it would be best if you unclasped it so your back may be properly massaged.

Can I just have my massage in the nude and not be draped?

If your comfort level is to be naked and you do not want to be covered during your massage or body treatment, then you need to consider two things:

The laws, rules, and regulations within the city or state that you are having the massage or body treatment.

The comfort level of the massage therapist with how you want to be undressed and uncovered.

City and state massage licensing regulations will take precedent over your personal choice. Massage Therapists have spent a great deal of money on their education to become a qualified, professional therapist. They will not want to lose their license and ability to earn a living because you want to be undress and undraped during a massage.

Many states such as South Carolina and Texas as well as the National Certification Board of Therapeutic Massage and Bodyworkers specify the following about the “Draping of Clients”: Licensees shall provide a clean drape for each client for the purpose of maintaining professional standards, and to ensure the client’s safety, comfort, and privacy. South Carolina goes on to state that “The areas that must be draped are the gluteal and genital areas for male and female clients and the breast area for female clients.”

The massage therapist may not be comfortable with you lying there fully exposed.

nude massage

When the comfort level is different for the client than it is for the practitioner, the more conservative comfort level needs to be honored by both.  If that is not acceptable to the one with the less conservative level, they are free to discontinue the professional relationship. Nobody is expected to serve or be served in a manner that is uncomfortable or intimidating.

If you are unsure of the state regulations for the spa you will be going to, ask what the spa’s policy is prior to booking your service.

Will the spa give me disposable undergarments?

spa treatments

Disposable undergarments are a familiar part of the spa ritual. For female spa-goers, these dinky disposable undies are dished out by spas if you’re having a bikini wax and sometimes given out for body treatments, such as exfoliation and body mud wraps, to save your own underwear from getting messy.

While paper undergarments are usually available for the ladies, it’s not always a certainty that spas will have disposable underwear for the men. Most spas may ask that men bring their own old swimming trunks for some treatments. It’s always best to check with the spa before you arrive.

Dressing for the different types of spa treatments?


In the US be prepared to undress to your comfort level and be properly draped throughout the service.


For most facials, you generally only need to disrobe from the waist up, and you will be under a sheet and towel or provided with a robe or wrap to put on.  However, some facial (like the Phytomer product line) include a neck and back massage and a self-heating mud.  In this case, you may want to remove all clothing or bring an extra pair of underwear so the mud or hot wet towel does not leave your underwear wet.  Many facial also include a hand or foot massage so you will want to remove your socks or stockings.

Body Treatments:

If you are having a body treatment that includes a scrub, a mud or a product that is applied and needs to be showered off,  please rest assured that private areas will be properly covered during the application.  Depending on what type of showers are used, the service provider may leave the room while you get into and out of the shower or they may walk you to the shower draped and hold the draping up while you step into the shower.

If you prefer, you may wear a two-piece swimsuit if you are a woman or a swimsuit if you are a man.  The reason why you would wear a two-piece is that the product especially if you are looking to detoxify will be applied to your abdominal area.  Do make sure if you elect to wear a swimsuit that it is an old one as the products may stain.

spa treatments

Hydrotherapy Tubs:

What you wear is going to be dependent on city/state regulations and whether you will be alone in the hydrotherapy tub room or if a therapist will be assisting you with the power spray.  So check with the spa to see what you should wear.  If you are not sure, then always bring a bathing suit just in case.


The key here is to wear something that can easily go above the knees.  So shorts or a pair of pants with a loose leg is best.  This way you may roll up the pant leg for your pedicure.  Most spas will have a pair of disposable paper sandals for after the pedicure to wear while your toe polish dries.  However, if you prefer, wear your own slip-on pair of thongs, but make sure your feet and toes are flat and do not have to be crunched to put them on.


No prerequisites, however, make sure that you prepay for the service or have your money and keys out so you do not ruin your nails.  If you are having these services after a day at the spa you may want to change into your street clothing prior to the service so you do not ruin it while you are getting dressed.

Do spas have spa robes in different sizes?

spa robesThis is a concern, particularly if you’re especially large or especially small. Generally, spas approach spa robes the same way they approach towels: some big and some small. The same applies to the flip-flops and plastic shoes some spas provide.

Spas need to cater to a large range of people from tall wide men to teenage girls. Having a one-size-fits-all policy would leave some people uncovered or uncomfortable. Most spas that provide spa robes have an oversized one size fits all robe as their main robe.  However, spas realize that people come in many shapes and sizes and the better spas will carry small robes for petite individuals as well as extra-large for individuals who may need them.

 If you are concerned about the spa having an appropriate robe for you then you have two options:  The first is to let the spa know when you book the service that you have a special need and give them your robe size.  This way the spa can ensure that you have an appropriate robe and locker for you.    The second is you may always bring your own robe or sandals with you.

I want a spa treatment where I can keep my clothing on – what do you suggest?

If you still do not feel comfortable with undressing at the spa, there are many services that you can enjoy fully clothed.  These would include several types of massage and energy work, this is not a complete list, so if you want a service that you can have fully clothed, just check with your spa to see what other services they may offer:

Energy Work

Energy work is a general term for modalities that are based on the idea that the human body consists of energy fields that can be stimulated through various techniques in order to promote wellness.  The concept of energy fields as a vital life force can be traced back to the oldest medical systems and is known as Qi in China, ki in Japan, and prana in India.

Some energy modalities, such as acupuncture and shiatsu, have their roots in ancient medicine, while others, such as therapeutic touch and polarity therapy, are a contemporary and eclectic interpretation of one or more ancient practices.  But the underlying basis of all of these modalities is the idea of energy flow in the body.

Practitioners of these modalities believe that keeping the body’s energy in a balanced state is the key to maintaining health.  In each of these modalities, the practitioner seeks to help the patient rebalance energy in the body, by stimulating, unblocking, or dispersing it.  The result is a greater sense of energy and wellbeing.


Some of the benefits of Reiki are…

* Supports the body’s natural ability to heal itself
* Vitalizes both the body and spirit
* Balances the organs and glands and their bodily functions
* Re-establishes spiritual balance and mental well being
* Promotes creativity
* Balances the body’s energies
* Treats symptoms and causes of illnesses
* Loosens up blocked energy and promotes a state of total relaxation
* Relieves pain
* Cleanses the body of toxins
* Strengthens the immune system
* Adjusts itself according to the needs of the recipient
* Enhances personal awareness and strengthens intuition
* Enhances meditation
* Is an extremely pleasant, holistic method of healing!

What is Reiki? Reiki is a Japanese form of healing that works with your energy to help balance and heal the physical self, emotions, thoughts, and spirit. It not only works on the symptoms you are experiencing but helps to highlight and heal the source of the health and wellbeing issues. This is one of the reasons I find it so effective for any symptoms caused by stress – such as insomnia or anxiety.

The energy (Ki) is channeled through the Reiki healer through to you. It then travels to wherever it needs to go in your body to cleanse and bring that part of you back into balance. Reiki can work whether or not you believe it will, it’s more important that you give the healer permission to work with you using Reiki.

The treatment can be given either with you lying on a therapy bed or sitting in a chair. Unlike massage, no clothes are removed for this treatment. Each session normally lasts 1 hour which includes time for a brief consultation and some feedback at the end of the session.

What a session involves -The session would normally start with the Reiki healer working at and around your head.

They then work their way down the body, through energy centers known as Chakras, finishing the session at your feet.

reikiThe session also works on the energy field around you called your aura so they generally do not touch the body all the time. If you haven’t heard of Chakras or the aura, information is listed here.

If you practice meditation, you will be familiar with the sensation of floating or deep relaxation that people can feel during a Reiki session. However, I would say that what you sense, think and feel during a session is quite unique to you. Some clients have described it as tingling, releasing, floating, lightness, being encapsulated in a warm, soothing blanket. Others have seen colors, had profound thoughts.  Rest assured, no two people experiences are alike.

If there are particularly strong blocks around your energy system, you may experience a release – through tears or laughter … or whatever you and your body need. This is a thoroughly cleansing response and much healthier than keeping those ‘feelings’ inside.


Polarity Therapy is a natural health care system based on the human energy field. The undisturbed flow and balance of the electromagnetic energy in and around the body is the basis for health and well being on physical, emotional, mental and spiritual levels. Blocked currents and disharmony in the energy field result in manifestations of tension, pain, disease or illness.

With Polarity Therapy the blockages and restrictions are cleared. The client’s energy field is restored to its natural state of balance. The result manifests as a release of holding patterns on mind-body levels. The client’s system gains an opportunity to return to its inherent fluid state.

Polarity Therapy incorporates bodywork including reflexology, gentle and firm touch, energy exercises, diet, and open communication facilitating self-awareness. Factors such as environment, attitudes, relationships, life experience, and trauma affect the functioning of the human energy field.
The Polarity practitioner assesses a client’s energy system with tools such as skilled observation, communication, and palpation. Polarity Therapy is very compatible also with Craniosacral Therapy, and the two can easily be practiced within the same bodywork session.

A typical Polarity session will take between 60 and 90 minutes. During the bodywork, the client will stay fully clothed except for the shoes.  Due to the subtle character of this work it may take a client time to get used to what he/she senses.

polarity therapy The practitioner encourages the client to stay tuned to the ongoing experience of his/her energy sensations. This might include tingling, expansion, wavelike or push/pull movements, heat, or cold sensations.

The results of a Polarity Therapy session may bring a sense of deep relaxation, relief from specific symptoms, clarity, or new insight.

Shiatsu Massage

Shiatsu is a Japanese word that means “finger pressure.” The goal of Shiatsu is to restore the balance of energy in the body. Proponents of Shiatsu and acupuncture believe that disease and physical infirmities are caused by imbalances or blockages in the flow of energy through the body. This energy is called “ki” which flows through the body along meridians or energy channels. Practitioners strive for a balance between Yin (negative energy) and Yang (positive energy) and attempt to determine where there may be a buildup of energy or an energy deficiency. Either will cause problems.

shiatsu massage

Shiatsu does not use the rubbing and kneading technique of Swedish massage but applies pressure using almost any part of the therapist’s body including arms, legs, fingers, hands, feet, elbows, toes, etc.

The therapist locates a particular point along with one of the body’s meridians and applies pressure to that area, attempting to restore balance to the flow of energy. The pressure can be applied gently with the fingers or maybe applied forcefully with the point of the elbow depending on the location of the point and the severity of the blockage. The therapist may also incorporate stretching, holding or rotating various parts of the body

More Than Physical

The restoration of the proper balance of “ki” is viewed as a spiritual as well as physical benefit. The balanced flow of energy offers physical comfort and improved health as well as emotional stability and spiritual well being. In fact, it is not uncommon that a recipient of Shiatsu massage may experience an intense emotional response as energy is released from problem areas and restored to proper levels. Crying is not an unusual occurrence and a good Shiatsu massage therapist is fully prepared for and completely sympathetic to, this type of response.

Shiatsu massage is an extremely relaxing and healing form of massage. It is satisfying to know that besides feeling better, a Shiatsu experience can place us back in balance with the energy flow of the universe.

Thai Massage

Thai massage is bodywork that is performed on a mat on the floor. No oils are used, as it is performed over loose-fitting clothing. As the client is placed into a myriad of Yoga stretches that flow into one another, the therapist kneads and compresses the muscles, while intermittently applying acupressure.
Deep rhythmic breathing creates a meditative state of mind while revitalizing the organs and tissues. The ebb and flow of the Thai massage experience give forth a greater sense of balance to the mind, body, and spirit—the true meaning of holistic healing.
Thai massage is similar to assisted yoga, and that it goes beyond massage.  It is in-depth bodywork. It incorporates stretches, reflexology, shiatsu, and other modalities.
Your therapist begins each session by working the muscles of your feet with gentle pressure and stretching.  Then, once your feet have become soft and pliable, your therapist will continue working with compression techniques and manipulation of acupressure points.  Muscles of the legs and hips are addressed before the back and shoulders.
The stretches, influenced by the Yoga Asanas, lengthen and loosen muscles and are designed to balance and realign the body over a period of time.  When combined, these techniques flow in a comforting rhythm that lets your body fall into a deep state of relaxation.

thai massage

Thai massage is a unique, ancient, and time-tested form of bodywork.

Practitioners use their hands and also their feet and knees in order to facilitate an optimal release of stress and tension; this release is designed to balance and realign the body over a period of time.


Tuina  (Tui Na) is an Oriental Bodywork Therapy that has been used in China for 2,000 years. Tuina (Tui Na) uses the traditional Chinese medical theory of the flow of Qi through the meridians as its basic therapeutic orientation. Through the application of massage and manipulation techniques Tuina (Tui Na) seeks to establish a more harmonious flow of Qi through the system of channels and collaterals, allowing the body the naturally heal itself.

Tuina (Tui Na) methods include the use of hand techniques to massage the soft tissue (muscles and tendons) of the body, acupressure techniques to directly affect the flow of Qi, and manipulation techniques to realign the musculoskeletal and ligamentous relationships (bone-setting). External herbal poultices, compresses, liniments, and salves are also used to enhance other therapeutic methods.

When you go into a typical Tuina session, you wear loose clothing and lies on a massage table or floor pad. After answering some brief questions about the nature and location of the health problem as well as basic questions about general health, allergies, and other existing conditions, the practitioner will concentrate on specific acupressure points, energy trigger points, muscles, and joints surrounding the affected area. Never go for a treatment just after eating.  You should wait at least an hour.


Don’t expect a light, relaxing massage; this therapeutic method goes directly after the problems, sometimes requiring significant pressure. When excessive friction from rubbing or stroking is involved, the practitioner may choose to use talcum powder, sesame oil, ointment of Chinese holly leaf, oil from HongHua, or a specialized massage emulsion or oil developed for Tuina.

Occasionally, clothing is removed or repositioned to expose a particular spot that requires direct skin contact. You should always be informed before this act, and no inappropriate or unexpected contact should ever be made in a professional session.

Treatment sessions last from 30 minutes to an hour. As with most “energy-based” treatments, you will usually feel either relaxed and tired or surprisingly energized by the treatment and release of pain.


Reflexology is a complementary, biological, integrative health science.  The reflexologist exercises pressure to reflex areas, formed by 7,200 nerve endings in each hand and foot to encourage improved instruction to each and every single gland, organ, and part of the body, this helps the body to biologically correct, strengthen, and reinforce itself, to reach balance, normalization, and homeostasis.
A reflexology session is usually an hour it begins with an examination of the feet, and warm-up of the feet and then a series of pressure points on the reflex points.  This is accomplished through first doing a visual observation, and then by applying an exercise pressure upon reflex areas to achieve a specific, highly specialized relaxation in that area of the body. This improves the nerve, blood, and lymphatic supply.


The entire foot is assessed; and throughout the session, whenever a trouble (sore) spot shows up, more time is spent on that area of the foot reflex. By working on that area, the corresponding part of the body receives improved nerve, blood, and lymphatic supply, in addition to working all 12 systems of the body: cardiovascular, central nervous, digestive, endocrine, immune, lymphatic, muscular, reproductive, respiratory, sensory, skeletal, and urinary.

This is more than just a nice foot massage.  The first assessment portion of it may be very uncomfortable and it may hurt.  Please keep your therapist informed as they work each area the soreness will subside and by the end of the treatment all soreness should be reduced or eliminated.


Hypnotherapy can allow you to escape from typical patterns of response and behavior to achieve greater flexibility and choice. Hypnotherapy works by allowing you to relax deeply, so giving you the ability to choose new ways of doing, being, and thinking, without being controlled by past experience.

Hypnotherapy works with the power of the subconscious mind to change habits and behaviors, decrease inner stress, release tension, increase the ability to focus clearly, and stimulate motivation.

During hypnotherapy sessions, clients remain completely aware of their thoughts, actions, and environment. Deep relaxation is common. Many describe the hypnotic state as a complete and total escape from physical tension and emotional stress while remaining completely alert.  Your therapist will take you through a guided imagery session to assist you with ascertaining your goals.

Corporate Chair Massage

This is a massage performed in an ergonomically designed chair that properly positions the person who will receive the massage.  This massage was originally designed to last 15 minutes and provides a quick release for neck back and shoulder tension.  The client is fully clothed.

Craniosacral Therapy

A typical craniosacral therapy session is performed with the client fully-clothed, in a supine position, and usually lasts about one hour. In the Upledger method of craniosacral therapy, a ten-step protocol serves as a general guideline, which includes

(1) analyzing the base (existing) cranial rhythm,

(2) creating a still point in that rhythm at the base of the skull,

(3) rocking the sacrum,

(4) lengthening the spine in the lumbar-sacral region,

(5) addressing the pelvic, respiratory and thoracic diaphragms,

(6) releasing the hyoid bone in the throat, and

(7-10) addressing each one of the cranial bones.

The practitioner may use discretion in using which steps are suitable for each client, and may or may not follow them in sequential order, with time restraints and the extent of trauma being factors.

craniosacral therapy

The therapist places their hands lightly on the patient’s body, tuning in to the patient by ‘listening’ with their hands or, in Sutherland’s words, “with thinking fingers”. Therapeutic contact between the patient and therapist may involve entrainment between patient and practitioner.

Patients often report a sense of deep relaxation during and after the treatment session and may feel light-headed. This is popularly associated with increases in endorphins, but research shows the effects may actually be brought about by the endocannabinoid system.

Indian Head Massage

Indian Head Massage is a clothed massage that is perfect for onsite treatments at work or at home. It has many benefits, in particular, it helps …

indian head massage

  • relax the body and reduces tension and stress
  • give relief from tension headaches
  • give relief from eyestrain
  • lower stress
  • decrease anxiety and tension
  • reduce sleep problems
  • relieve sinusitis
  • relieve muscular tension
  • improve circulation
  • improve hair condition

It is a treatment based on old Ayurvedic techniques involving work on the upper back, shoulders, neck, scalp, face, and hands. A variety of massage techniques are used to relieve tension, stimulate circulation and improve joint flexibility. Indian Head Massage is also used to help improve the condition and health of your hair. It can also help to reduce stress and fatigue, increase focus and concentration, and relax and rejuvenate.

EFT – Emotional Freedom Technique

Some of the benefits of EFT are …

  • reducing physical pain
  • overcoming fears, phobias and addictions
  • reducing anxiety and stress
  • helping to achieve goals

What is EFT? EFT (emotional freedom technique) helps many conditions from anxiety and stress to phobias, addictions, and pain or to help achieve goals. It is based on Thought Field Therapy developed by an American psychologist in the 1970’s. It involves ‘tapping’ the body’s acupressure points to aid restoration of the body’s energy flow.

Energy is seen as having a physical, mental and emotional basis. If there is a ‘disturbance’ in the emotional flow of energy it can have an effect on the physical and mental energy. EFT can help reduce and remove the disturbance.

EFT is sometimes referred to as an ’emotional form of acupuncture – but without the needles’.

What a session involves -During the treatment there is a consultation to identify the issue and you will be assisted to find its source. Please note that this is a clothed treatment, seated in a chair and that the therapist will demonstrate the tapping sequence.

Whilst using your fingertips to tap the energy lines you will repeat various statements that link to your issue. Emotional issues, addictions, and physical pain can reduce quickly and effectively during a session which usually lasts an hour. Plus you will be shown the basic sequence to practice at home to maintain your health and wellbeing.

The tapping sequence can be used as a relaxation technique without repeating statements so it is useful if facing situations that provoke strong emotions. 

Before you go …what you need to know

spaWhat should I wear to the spa?

It is best to wear light, casual clothing when visiting a day spa. Jewelry should be left at home, as it may interfere with treatment and most spas will not be responsible for lost or stolen jewelry.

If you are going to a day spa that does not have a locker room or shower, then I prefer to wear sweats or clothing that will maintain my body heat.  In addition, I also want to wear clothing that I will not be concerned about oil or lotion staining them.

How should I prepare for my spa day?

You should always shower prior to your spa service.  For a massage, it will warm up the muscles, and for a body treatment, it will open your pores.

If you are going to shave, then shaving should be done the day before for women, but no less than two hours in advance for men having a facial, this way the skin has time to rest before the treatment. This is especially true if you are having a salt scrub pedicure.  If you shave that day you may find the salt scrub stings and is uncomfortable.

If you are having lash treatments such as eyelash extensions, you should read that Spavelous “Now you are in the Know” edition to see the extensive pre and post-treatment care notes.

What should I bring with me?

Most spas with a locker room will provide their guests with robes, towels, and sandals, though guests may want to bring a bathing suit for water treatments and workout clothes if the spa has a fitness center.  Personally, I prefer to wear my own shower washable sandals or bring them with me.

Hair Clips, hair bands, and other hair tools:  If you are having a massage and you do not want to have oil or lotion in your hair, you may want to clip your hair up to keep it out of the way.  Also, I have yet to have a facial where my hairstyle remained perfect at the end.  Inevitable my hair was a mess.   So if they do not have a shower or makeup area where you may shower and style your hair, you may want to be prepared to restyle your hair.

Shower cap:  If you are having a body treatment and do not want to get your hair wet, check with the spa to see that they have a disposable shower cap for you.  If not you may want to bring one.

If the spa does not have a locker room, then you will probably change in the treatment room.  In this case, robes and sandals will probably not be provided.

Check with the spa beforehand to ascertain what you will need to bring depending on your plans after the spa.  A checklist of items may include:

  • Lockers
  • Towels
  • Robe
  • Sandals
  • Shower
  • Shower cap
  • Body Wash
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Deodorant
  • Hair spray
  • Hairstyling products
  • Hair Brush
  • Comb
  • Hair clips
  • Ponytail holder
  • Hair Dryer
  • Curling Iron
  • Mouthwash
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Electric Rollers
  • Body Cream
  • Face Cream
  • Makeup
  • Swim Suit (if it is for the sauna, steam room or Jacuzzi make sure it is all-natural and dye-free.  It should also have no metal as these will heat up in the sauna and burn your skin)
  • Extra change of undergarments
  • Workout clothing

Can I eat and drink before a spa service?

Try not to eat for at least an hour before a treatment, and avoid the consumption of alcohol on the day of a treatment.

Drink plenty of water before and afterward, especially if heat therapies, such as a sauna or the steam room, are part of your day spa experience.

Just remember that drinking alcohol prior (includes heavy drinking the night before) or immediately after having treatments can make you feel sick and could be dangerous, and completely ruin any detox treatments you may have had. You may find that you react much more to small amounts of alcohol after a treatment.

Do spas usually charge for cancellations?

Like hotels, spas usually do have cancellation policies, however, the times and penalties vary from spa to spa. Check with the spa. If you’re canceling a long time ahead, there may be no penalty.  Unlike hotels, spas do not overbook spa services, so if you have an appointment and you no show you have cost that spa revenue that they could have had if they booked someone else.  Spas should advise you of their cancellation policy when you book the service, if they don’t, make sure you ask.

The Heat is on … Questions on Spa Amenities, Saunas, Steam Rooms and Jacuzzis

Before entering any public facility (swimming pool, whirlpool, sauna, etc.) visitors are expected to shower. Visitors should bring their towels with them into the sauna and wear the slippers that the spa provides. Customs regarding bathing suits in public facilities vary. Many visitors just wear a towel in the sauna and or steam room, but visitors who are uncomfortable are more than welcome to wear a swimsuit.

What should you wear in the Steam Room, Sauna, and Jacuzzi?

These are a general rule of spa etiquette; however, it is best to check with the specific spa for their policies.

General rule:

If the steam room, sauna or Jacuzzi is co-ed, you should wear a bathing suit made from natural fibers and free of dyes.  If the facility has separate accommodations for men and women, then generally the wearing of a bathing suit is optional.  In a single sexed steam room or sauna, you may go in just wrapped in a towel.

While some individuals may choose to be completely disrobed during their time in the Sauna or steam room, they should always sit on a towel for their own safety and proper sanitation.  The wood in saunas may get very hot and you could burn your skin, and the sanitation level of the tile or seating area that people have been sweating on is not the most sanitary for your private areas.

Can you wear contacts in the sauna or steam room?

I find that I am most comfortable without my contacts at the spa.  Whether I am face down with my eyes closed during a massage or having my mascara removed during a facial, I am much more relaxed when I do not have to worry about my contacts.

The majority of contact lens manufacturers indicate that you should NOT wear contact lenses in Jacuzzis, steam rooms or saunas.  Soft contact lenses can become contaminated by the chlorine in the Jacuzzi and the heat from the steam room and sauna can melt dry out or damage the contacts.  Acuvue states” Exposing contact lenses to water during swimming or while in a hot tub may increase the risk of eye infection from microorganisms.”  If you still have questions about your contact lens, check with your eye doctor.

Guidelines for the Steam room, Shower, and Sauna.

Do Not use the steam room or sauna if you are:

  • Pregnant or could be pregnant the sauna/steam room should be avoided throughout the pregnancy since the rising of the internal core body temperature could result in the fetus suffering ill effects
  • Suffer from heart disease, circulatory problems, hi or low blood pressure or from any condition which may affect your reaction to heat or any condition which makes you unsure of the advisability of using saunas also include kidney disease and diabetes for steam rooms.
  •  If you are unsure then it is always best to consult your doctor or physician


Sauna Guidelines
  • Allow the body to return to normal temperature if you have been exercising
  • Undress and place belongings in a locker wear an all-natural fiber swimsuit (without metal), or wrap in a towel
  • Before you enter a sauna you should do a body check. Look for any metal on your body. Some bathing suits have metal zippers or rings. Also, if you are wearing any rings, necklaces or anklets, these will have to come off before you open the door of the sauna. If your bathing suit has metal on it, it would be best to change into another suit before going into the sauna. The reason for this is because metal heats up very quickly, and touching it will burn your skin
  • Remove makeup and enjoy a warm, cleansing shower
  • Enter the sauna cabin and sit or lie on a towel, on a bench at a height that is comfortable (the higher levels will be hotter)
  • Relax for 8 to 10 minutes in the dry heat. This will raise the body temperature and the perspiration will cleanse the pores of the skin
  • Before becoming too uncomfortable leave the sauna and immediately take a cool shower to close the pores. Be aware that sudden extreme changes in temperature induced by cold showers can cause shock Check with your physician prior to use.
  • Return to the sauna for a further 5-10 minutes, if you are feeling discomfort leave right away. Do not exceed 20-30 minutes To much exposure can result in nausea, dizziness, and fainting
  • When you are ready to complete the sauna take a final cool shower and wrap yourself in a towel.
  • Relax for 15-20 minutes, or until the body temperature has returned to near normal then take a warm shower before dressing
  • Whilst using the sauna always drink plenty of fluids water (non-alcoholic)
  • If at any time in the sauna you start to feel ill or discomfort, leave the sauna immediately seek medical advice if necessary

Be aware that:

  • When you enter or exit a sauna or steam room make sure the door is fully closed.
  • The warmest part of a sauna is diagonally opposite the stove. The higher benches are the warmest
  • The sauna controls should only be adjusted by spa personnel
  • Contact lenses and glasses should not be worn in the sauna
  • The sauna is intended to be a dry heat, it should not be so dry that it is uncomfortable to nose and throat.

How often should I use a steam room or Sauna?

You should check with your doctor to see what is best for you.  However, a general rule of thumb for a person in excellent health is 3 times a week for 20 minutes.  You may need to work up to this, and you should always listen to your own body, adhering to all precautions above.

Jacuzzi Guidelines:

Do Not use the Jacuzzi if you are:

  • Pregnant or could be pregnant the Jacuzzi should be avoided throughout the pregnancy since the rising of the internal core body temperature could result in the fetus suffering ill effects
  • Suffer from heart disease, circulatory problems, hi or low blood pressure or from any condition which may affect your reaction to heat or any condition which makes you unsure of the advisability of using
  • Are suffering from skin diseases, sores or wounds
  • Are suffering from an illness which causes you the inability to perspire
  • Have had a heavy meal or alcohol within 1 ½ hours
  • Are taking anticoagulants antihistamines, vasoconstrictors, vasodilators, stimulants, hypnotics, narcotics, tranquilizers, aspirin or any other medication whatsoever which makes you unsure as to the advisability of using the Jacuzzi
  • If you are unsure then it is always best to consult your doctor or physician

Jacuzzi Guidelines:

  • Allow the body to return to a normal temperature if you have been exercising.
  • Undress and place belongings in a locker
  • Remove any metal in the form of watches and jewelry as the chemicals can cause discoloring to certain metals.
  • Remove makeup and enjoy a warm, cleansing shower
  • Take great care when entering and exiting the Jacuzzi as the surface area may be slippery.
  • When you are comfortable to press the button or set the timer on the wall by the Jacuzzi to activate the bubbles
  • A safe soaking time should not exceed 15 minutes if you are feeling discomfort leave right away
  • Take a cool shower before entering any of the other facilities
  • When using the Jacuzzi always drink plenty of fluids (non-alcoholic)
  • If at any time you start to feel ill, sleepy or discomfort, leave the Jacuzzi immediately seek medical advice if necessary
  • Do not sit directly over the Jacuzzi outlet.
  • Do not put your head under the water as hair may get caught in the inlets.
  • Do not dive into the Jacuzzi

Be aware that:

  • The area around the Jacuzzi is wet and caution must be taken when entering and leaving the area
  • Chemicals are used in the spa and may discolor some metals and the chlorine may discolor or bleach the color of some swimwear.


Which spa service should I have first?

If you are having more than one service in the day, the general rule of thumb is as follows:

  • Massage first, this is because they will use oil on your body, and some massages may also do a face massage or if they start you face up your face may be congested after the massage.
  • Body Treatment next, most body treatments will include a final shower after which they will apply your body lotion.  By having this after your massage your body is showered and ready to go.  Somebody treatments also include a face massage so you would not want to mess up your facial.
  • Facial next, this will clean your face and minimize and nasal congestion or facial puffiness, and finish with the right moisturizer for you.  Your face is ready to go.
  • Nail services, you may want to leave some time to get dressed prior to your nail services so that you do not mess up your nails when you get dressed.  If not, then give yourself plenty of dry time prior to dressing so you do not ruin your nails.
  • Hair:  If they have a salon, it is great to get your hair done. 

I’ve got a resort spa package booked and I’ve just found out I’m pregnant. Should I still go?

There are some treatments you should avoid in pregnancy but you can still make the most of a pampering resort spa stay.

You may well find that your chosen spa will not give some treatments to women in their first trimester, such as a full body massage or body wraps. Don’t be tempted not to tell the therapist and go ahead anyway, as there are some aromatherapy massage oils it’s wise to avoid in early pregnancy, and even specialist pregnancy massages and treatments are often only recommended after 12 weeks. In early pregnancy, you may have to focus on beauty treatments such as a facial, pedicure, manicure, and maybe a neck and shoulder massage. You could also use the pool and do gentler exercise classes such as yoga.

Check with the resort’s spa to see what they offer. If you’re in a very early pregnancy, they may even let you postpone by a few weeks so that you can book in for some pregnancy-specific treatments.

Saunas and Jacuzzis are not recommended at any stage during pregnancy because of the risk of overheating. A bath or anything else that makes your skin red and makes you sweat is probably too hot. Stick to the pool and cooler treatments. For more information on spa treatments and pregnancy  see the previous edition of Spavelous “Now you are in the Know” called “Oh Baby!”

Questions for During the Spa Service & After Service

During the Spa Service –

What if I’m uncomfortable with something about the therapy?

Speak up and let the therapist know if the pressure is not adequate or too firm. Express your likes and dislikes and feel free to ask questions. Remember: their job is to give you the most pleasurable experience possible.  If at any time you feel uncomfortable, stop the service and ask to see the manager.  Listen to your intuition.

What do I need to tell a spa or individual therapist about any medical conditions?

Advise the spa and your service provider with any medical conditions or pregnancy so they can tailor the treatment to your specific needs this includes (massage, facials, body treatments and nail services).   Heart conditions, high or low blood pressure and arthritis are examples of conditions that you should alert your therapist to so he or she can tailor your treatment appropriately. It’s probably also a good idea to alert your therapist to any contagious viruses or skin conditions as well.

I have very ticklish feet and do not want to have my feet touched what can I do?

Many individuals have some areas that that are ticklish or sensitive. Please inform your service provider prior to your service of these areas. Keep in mind it’s you’re spa service time is your time, so you can decide where you want and need the attention.

After the Spa Service –

What happens at the end of the service?

Your service provider will let you know that your service is over.  They may leave you comfortably on the table or they may assist you in sitting up.   If there is any follow-up information that you need to know to maximize the benefits of the service that you just had they will advise you.  This may include telling you how much water to drink, what stretches are good for you or when you should shower.  The service provider will then leave the room and allow you to dress in privacy.

How long may I relax in the treatment room?

You should take a minute or two, but never more than five minutes unless the therapist has advised you otherwise, the therapist may have a treatment right after you and they will need time to change the sheets and sanitize the room for the next guest.  Most spas will have another area for extended relaxation.

When do I tip the service provider?

Some spas have automatic gratuities, so first make sure that the spa you are going to has not already included a gratuity.  If you are going to give a cash gratuity, you should place it in an envelope and either hand it to the service provider as you exit the room or leave it at the spa desk with the service provider’s name and your name on it.  If you are going to leave a credit card gratuity, you can add it on when you pay for your services.

What is an appropriate tip?

Tips between 18 and 20 percent are customary, depending on how happy you were with your treatment. If the spa has a coordinator who shows you to a changing room, provides you with towels and robes, and offers you tea and water, it may be appropriate to tip between $3 and $9. If you’re nervous about this, definitely call ahead and ask the spa receptionist.

Cell Phones, Cigarettes, and Children?

Cell phones should be turned off when you arrive at the spa.  Many spas may have an area where you can make a call so ask before you turn your cell phone on.  If you place your cell phone in the locker please have it turned off so ringing or message beeping does not disturb other guest’s relaxation.  In addition, many cell phones are banned from locker rooms areas since many cell phones today have cameras and it is a safety measure for guests to not allow cell phones to be out or in use where other guests may be in various stages of undress.

Cigarettes and smoking are generally not permitted in spas.  In Arizona, smoking is banned in most indoor public places.  Check with your spa prior to going if this is an issue for you.

Children, most spas only allow children if they are having a service, although many resort spas will not perform services on minors.  If you are planning to a spa with a child, make sure the spa is informed of the child’s age prior to booking the service and ascertain what their service policy is and if you need to be present during the service.   Even if your child may have a spa service, they should never use the Jacuzzi, sauna or steam room as there are age restrictions on the use of these.  These regulations have been set due to safety and health concerns for your child.

Some spas do have a children’s spa menu.   It is a great opportunity to introduce your child to taking care of themself and learning relaxation and anti-stress techniques.  In addition, more spas for children only are opening up with a fun spa party environment.

Gift Certificates Receivers Guide


Many questions and complaints come in about spa gift certificates, here are some pointers that will help you to understand your spa gift certificate that you have received and also assist you in making an informed decision about what spa gift certificates to purchase.

You may think that when you receive a gift certificate that there is nothing else you need to know other than whoever gave it to you loves you and wants you to take care of yourself and they care enough to want to help you to make time for relaxation.

However, the best gift you can give the giver is to show them how much you appreciate the spa gift card by using it.  So what do you need to know?

gift certificate

  • Gift cards and gift certificates are money, if you lose them they will not be replaced, so put them in a safe place (but not so safe that you will forget to use it)
  • Make your spa appointment NOW!  Use the gift card within 2 weeks of receiving it (otherwise you might forget you have it). A spa service is something to be savored not saved.  In addition, if the spa changes ownership or is sold, you may be out of luck.  So use your gift card NOW!
  • Gift cards do expire.  If you do not use it you may lose it.  Check here for the Gift Certificate Consumer Protection Laws in your state.  If the spa gift card is one of those National Spa Gift cards, check to see which state’s regulations apply to the expiration date it may be the state of the company that produced it and not the state you reside in.
  • Many spa gift certificates DO NOT allow you to use them for discounted services.  This is because some of these national spa gift cards charge a large fee (15% – 17%) to the spa to redeem them.  If they gave you a discounted service, then they would lose money.  If you are buying a spa gift certificate, and you know the spa that the person wants to go to, it is best for you to buy a certificate for that spa that way the person can maximize its value and use it on discounted services and specials.
  • The other drawback to a national spa gift certificate is that you must use the whole value for services; most of them will not let you use a portion for gratuity.  If you have questions about the use or redemption of your gift card contact the spa manager prior to your visit.  Make sure you get their name and write it down in the event there is a problem later.
  • Check to see if you can use a portion of your gift certificate for gratuity, if not make sure you have cash for a gratuity.  Some spas are unable to ring up a gratuity only on their credit card system, so good to check it beforehand.

Final Thoughts on Spa Q & A’s

spa gift certificate

There are so many more questions that come across our desks each and every day.   If we haven’t answered the question that you need an answer to, please contact us or just use the Spavelous search bar to see if we already have addressed this question in one of our other weekly Spavelous “Now You Are in The Know” spa magazine.

Our goal to help you to make the best choices to ensure that your spa experience will always be a Spavelous one.

resort spa

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