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Mind your manners - The rules of spa etiquette
by Katie |  Sep 12, 2013

Manners aren't just for the dinner table, ladies. Whether you're getting a pedicure or a massage, there are certain behavioral guidelines to abide by at a spa to ensure you can return for all your beauty needs without any embarrassment.

While it's important to follow spa etiquette, some of these rules are largely unknown or misunderstood. Never fear, though - this simple guide will take you through all the do's and dont's of your experience so you can avoid blunders.

When to arrive?
You wouldn't show up to a doctor's appointment late, so don't be tardy to a spa session either. Ashling Farrell, general manager for Bliss Soho, recommended in Time Out New York arriving 15 to 20 minutes early so that you have enough time to fill out any required paperwork, take a shower if need be and just settle in. If you plan to take advantage of the steam room or sauna, however, give yourself 30 minutes or more. Remember that it's not just rude to come late, it could also shorten your treatment time if there's an appointment booked right after yours. So punctuality actually means more pampering time for you.

Do I shower and shave beforehand?
Whether you should bathe or shave before your appointment depends on what treatment you'll be receiving. For example, Farrell explained that a hot shower can help to alleviate some muscle tension, which allows for more intense kneading during a massage and deeper absorption of products during a facial. If you're coming in for a leg wax, though, it's really up to you whether or not you shower - but it certainly won't make a difference in effectiveness.

Waxing and shaving is also a matter of preference. Your skin can flare up after a wax, so it's best to remove hair several days before a massage or other skin care appointment to avoid further irritation. This is especially crucial if your treatment involves exfoliation - sloughing off dead skin when it's sensitive from waxing is not a good idea for obvious reasons.

Can I keep my cell on?
How irritating is it when someone is texting in a movie theater or talking on their phone in an office waiting room? Don't be that girl - turn off all your devices when you enter the spa. It's especially important to be courteous at a spa because the people around you are there for relaxation, and your constant chatter could seriously disturb their peace. If you're going with a friend, try to keep your waiting room banter to a minimum. You can always catch up after the appointment over a latté.

How much do I tip?
Tipping is a given, but if you're curious as to the appropriate amount, 18 to 20 percent is standard if you're happy with the service. If you receive multiple treatments, you might want to leave a separate tip for each. Some spas allow you to add a tip to your card, but others don't, so just in case, it's best to bring cash to slip into the gratuity envelope.

What if I don't like something?
A spa appointment is all about you. Treatments can all be personalized to your preferences, from the temperature in the room to the vigorousness of the massage. If you're not completely happy with a treatment, you should say something - particularly if you're in any discomfort or pain. Farrell explained that technicians want to be aware of anything that doesn't work so they can avoid it in the future. The earlier you speak up, the better, too, as there may be a chance to turn the treatment around so it's more in line with your expectations. If you bring up an issue with the therapist and they aren't helpful, you can always take it up with a manager when possible.

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