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Spa Treatments

Sure, it may be all about relaxation, but if you're not a regular at the local spa, your first trip can be overwhelming. Spa menus are often long and complex, listing all the treatments they have to offer to help you revitalize, rejuvenate and refresh your mind and body. Should you get a massage or a body treatment? What is a facial and how often should you have one? Here is some information about spa treatments and how to choose the right one for you.

The most popular service at most spas is massage, the manual manipulation of the body's muscles. Massage has been around for thousands of years and has a long list of health benefits aside from being a pampering experience. The most popular style of massage used in the U.S. and also a great choice for beginners is the Swedish massage, which is usually about 50 to 60 minutes long and involves a special stroking of skin and kneading of muscles. A licensed massage therapist will use oil to lubricate your skin.

There are several other types of massage, including deep tissue, hot stone, aromatherapy, trigger point therapy and reflexology, just to name a few. The cost of massage varies by geographic location, the type of massage you choose and how luxurious the spa is.

The second most popular service at most spas is the facial, which is said to promote clear, well-hydrated. A facial is given by a licensed esthetician with special training in skin care and he or she performs the following basic steps:

  • cleansing
  • skin analysis, during which the esthetician puts cooling eye pads over your eyes and looks at your skin through a brightly lit magnifying lamp
  • exfoliation
  • extraction of blackheads (if suitable for your skin type)
  • facial massage to relax you and stimulate your skin and facial muscles
  • a mask according to your skin type (dry, oily, combination, sensitive)
  • application of toners and protective creams

There are variations to the classic facial, which are often referred to as "specialty facials." When a facial is done without extractions, it may be called a mini-facial. When vitamin C is used, it is an age defense facial. Other variations include oxygen, collagen and acne facials.

Ideally, you should get a facial every four to six weeks, the amount of time it takes skin to regenerate. If this seems like a too much, try to have one at least four times a year as the seasons change to ensure your skin maintains a healthy glow. A one-time facial can cost you anywhere from $75 and up, depending on the spa and its location.

Body treatments are essentially facials for the rest of your body. The most popular body treatment is a salt glow or sea-salt scrub, an exfoliating treatment in which an esthetician uses special sea salt to remove dead skin cells and leaves your skin feeling soft and smooth. This portion of the treatment only takes about 10 to 15 minutes and is done on a massage table covered with a sheet of plastic.

After you've taken a light shower without using soap (this will keep a thin layer of oil on your skin), you will receive a hydrating or detoxifying body wrap. Detoxifying products like mud and seaweed stimulate blood flow and the lymphatic system, enhancing your body's own ability to rid itself of waste. A hydrating body wrap done with oils and creams will both soften and condition your skin.

Variations in body treatments come from the different types of oils and scrubs that are used. Essential oils come in many different fragrances, like orange blossom and peppermint, and scrubs can be made using anything from coffee grounds to grape seeds.

In addition to massage, facials and body treatments, most spas offer manicures and pedicures. Many day spas also offer professional hair styling services.

Once you've gotten familiar with the basic services offered your local spa, you might feel inclined to try a different type of massage. Ask your massage therapist about the benefits of each. You may also want to talk to your esthetician about other facial services and body treatments that are appropriate for your skin type. Whatever treatment you choose, enjoy your trip to the spa!



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Cord Blood Registry
March of Dimes
Susan G. Komen

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