Spa etiquette: 7 important questions answered

Reading time: 5 min

Planning a much-needed mom spa break? Whether you’ve visited a spa before or are planning to do so for the first time, here are some very important tips for you to maximise your experience and minimise any discomfort.

What do you wear to a spa?

The short answer is: Wear what makes you feel comfortable! It may be a good idea to bring two swimming costumes or comfortable shorts as well as plain rubber flip flops for use in the wet areas such as saunas, hot tubs, swimming pools or steam rooms. The other outfit can be used outside the wet areas.

Most spas provide slippers and robes because suitable footwear is very important. If you are not comfortable with undressing completely, it’s absolutely fine to keep your underwear on. Whether you are partially clothed or fully naked under the massage sheet, the therapists are trained to deal with either situation professionally and discreetly.

How do you prepare for a spa day?

Do not shave on the day of your appointment, especially if you are having body scrubs, body wraps or a pedicure. Shaving causes your pores to open, which leaves them vulnerable to infections. If you have to shave on the day, make sure that it is at least four hours prior to your treatment. Males are advised to shave at least 24 hours before a facial treatment. Any treatment involving waxing is not recommended in conjunction with using the wet/steamy areas of the spa.

“During the second trimester you may benefit a bit more from a spa day, but avoid overstimulating treatments in pregnancy like aromatherapy and deep tissue massage.”

Spa-goers should always shower before using the facilities or having a treatment or massage. This is to wash off any skincare products, oils and dirt on your skin to ensure a safe and hygienic environment for all spa visitors. There are shower facilities at most spas.

When should I arrive for my treatment?

All reputable spas will have documentation that you have to fill out before you use their facilities. Make sure that you answer all questions truthfully. The filling out of forms takes time, and it is thus advised that you arrive at least 10 minutes before your scheduled appointment – this also helps you to relax and ease into the experience.

If being late is absolutely unavoidable, it is good manners to notify the spa as soon as possible. However, arriving late for your treatment will limit the time for your treatment as the spa has to accommodate their next guests.

Can I go to a spa if I’m pregnant?

In the first trimester of pregnancy, it is always safer to rather not frequent a spa or receive other spa treatments like massages, as there are so many things that have to be avoided that forms part of a spa visit, e.g. the Jacuzzi, sauna, steam room, certain aromatherapy oils as well as any pressure on the stomach. Massage, even pregnancy massage, is best avoided in early pregnancy.

During the second trimester you may benefit a bit more from a spa day, but avoid overstimulating treatments in pregnancy like aromatherapy and deep tissue massage. Nowadays, a lot of spas offer pregnancy massages which may give you more peace of mind as they are specially designed for pregnant women. Your therapist will also be able to advise you on these matters, but it remains your own responsibility to ensure your own safety and well-being.

What if I have a health condition?

It is imperative to inform the spa if you are on any medication or products like Retinol or if you have chronic or other health conditions like allergies, high blood pressure or diabetes. This will allow your therapist to adjust her services to you to avoid any possible contraindications. If you use a reputable spa, your therapist will speak to you about temperature, pressure, music, products and the sequence of events before or during your treatment.

Make sure to discuss any uncertainties you have about any aspect of the treatment with your therapist beforehand. It is also advised to inform the spa of such a condition at the time of your booking. It is extremely important to stay hydrated during your spa visit by drinking plenty of water before, during or after treatments. This helps replenish the body and assists in the removal of toxins.

Do I have to talk to my therapist during a treatment?

It all depends on you – your therapist will respond to you. If you would like to talk during a treatment you are welcome to, but you are also most welcome to be silent. It is all about what helps you relax the most. However, do speak up if there is a problem, for example, if you are too hold or too cool or want the massage pressure adjusted, etc.

Should I tip my therapist?

In South Africa leaving a 10% to 15% tip is customary. If you have received services from more than one therapist, make sure to leave a separate tip for each one. Gratuity is never a given to therapists but of course, they are always appreciated. If you are getting a promotional rate or special package, it is customary to tip to the full value of the service if you are happy with your therapist.

Speak up as soon as possible if you are not happy about something – spas would rather you told them immediately than give them a poor rating.

Enjoy your spa day, and remember that spas are places where much-needed private moments are savoured, so be mindful of the other guests’ space. Turn off your cell phone and refrain from loud talking. Use the opportunity to for some me-time to relax and unwind.