Spa visits are a lovely treat, aren’t they? All that lounging around in a dressing gown relaxing and pampering, with nothing more to worry you than getting the perfect shot of hotdog legs plus a glass of prosecco in front of the pool, but hang on a minute… That robe doesn’t quite do up as tightly as you’d like, those paper pants are giving you an almighty wedgie, the changing rooms are full of “naked house” people and you forgot to shave your legs this morning (and every morning for the last three weeks). Not quite so relaxing now…
Before you let these thoughts ruin your visit, it’s worth swotting up on a little bit of spa-tiquette, those unwritten rules of what to do and, maybe more importantly, what not to do can make all the difference to how much you enjoy your day and ensure sure you make the most of every single second. Whether you’re a newbie to putting in the dressing-gown hours or you’ve been spa-ing forever, we can all do with a little reminder of best spa practice. From massage manners to pube politeness, here’s what you really need to know.
Money, money, money
Tipping for beauty services can be taxing at the best of times. Worrying about whether to give the person who washed your hair some ££, even though she drenched the back of your silk top and the water temp went from lava to hypothermia is stressful enough when you’re fully dressed in a salon. Try to stuff used fivers into your dressing gown pocket, and you’ll be giving off a distinctly “services rendered” vibe. Skip this awkwardness by adding on any gratuities at the end when you’re checking out.
Wax on, wax off
Intimate hair removal is so full of euphemisms (Look, even we used one! For intimate, read you’ll be in a position only your gynae and your significant other would usually see you in) you practically need to run a waxing menu through google translate. The basics facts are these: USE the hygiene wipe they’ll leave you, especially if you’re having your bottom done (we’re sure we don’t need to tell you why). ASK about the knickers situation. For anything more than a basic bikini line, e.g., a Hollywood or Brazilian, you’ll probably be sans pants. MENTION when booking if it’s been a long while since your last wax or you’ve never had one before. They may recommend a special “virgin” appointment or advise a little trim.
You know that voice you use in an open-plan office when you’re trying to book a smear test/have a row with your partner without that nosey guy who sits opposite earwigging? Well, harness that and use it in all communal areas of the spa. Your spa whisper is a valuable tool to ensure you’re not ruining other guests’ days with chatter of how you’ve had it up to here with Kate’s hen-do email chain.
Remember, just because you can’t see anyone doesn’t mean they can’t hear you. Behind all those closed doors are people trying to zone out during treatments, and they really don’t want your ruminations on what to have for lunch to spoil that.
Nothing causes greater spanxiety (that’s a fear of pampering procedures, rather than body control underwear) than the great paper knickers conundrum. You’ll find them in your locker or on the treatment bed, looking like a cross between an adult nappy and a 1920s sanitary towel belt. They fit no human body, either flapping like drafty curtains either side of your bits or sawing you in half dental-floss style. They’re there to protect your modesty and stop your own undies getting covered in oil, fake tan or wax, but you don’t have to wear them. If you’d rather not, just say, and the therapist can either do clever things with towels to keep you decent or you can keep your own on.
We’ve all heard horror stories of dangling bits and bushes in overcrowded saunas and steam rooms, but calm down. That doesn’t really tend to happen in the UK, where most people will keep their swimwear on in all communal areas and in pools and heat treatment rooms. Changing rooms are obviously a different story, but have a bit of consideration for your fellow changers. You don’t want to be the person blow-drying their pubes in the mirror or shaving their legs in the shower that they tell everyone about that night, do you?
You’ve booked in for a back massage but your therapist is tugging down your pants, so your naked bottom is out on the table—eek! Don’t worry. It might feel strange at first, but buttock massage is a big part of your treatment. We carry heaps of tension in our “lower back” (another bloody euphemism), so they’ll need to get their hands on your peach for the best effect. Some massages might include a boob option, but the therapist will always ask if you want this included, and the modesty trickery with a sheet would put David Blaine to shame.
Lastly, if there’s anything you’re not sure about, just ask. No matter how silly you might think it sounds, we promise you your therapist has definitely heard it—and much worse—before. It’s your treatment, and you’re not going to enjoy it fully if you’re worrying about something.