Spa Treatments That Work – And Others That Don’t

Want to enjoy a relaxing day at the spa? Who doesn’t? Spas are luxurious treats that help us rejuvenate and feel better about ourselves. They’re also expensive. You can be prepared to shell out a lot of cash on your next spa day. There are so many different packages and treatments at spas. There’s something for everyone, and they all promise some kind of amazing result. But before you spend, you should make sure that what you’re buying is actually going to work, because not all spa treatments deliver what they promise. Here are some spa treatments that work, and others that don’t.


 What Works


Rest assured, a massage is always a good choice at the spa. There are lots of different kinds, from Swedish to hot stone to Shiatsu. Go ahead and choose whatever type is most appealing to you. As long as a massage is done by a professional with expertise, it is sure to relax you and work out your kinks.

 Mud and Clay Facials

Some spa treatments advocate getting dirty as a way of improving your skin. You’ll get slathered in mud, and your skin will improve. It sounds counter-intuitive, but it actually works. Mud, clay and other dirty earth treatments absorb oil from your skin and exfoliate it at the same time.


This one is up for debate, but many people find that acupuncture totally works. Some people are skeptical that tiny needles in your skin could have such positive health results. But if you’re open to it, acupuncture is a legitimate spa treatment to try. It can help with almost anything, from relieving symptoms of arthritis to giving you a boost of energy.

 What Doesn’t

 Food-Based Facials

There are spas that offer food-based facial treatments, such as masks and products that contain healthy ingredients like carrots and blueberries. Fruits and vegetables are good to eat, so they must be good for your skin, too, right? Wrong. Your skin isn’t able to absorb the nutrients from these foods. They have to be eaten to benefit you, so skip the food-based treatments.

Detox Skin Treatments

Another promise of many spa treatments is that they’ll detoxify your skin, and remove toxins and impurities that are keeping you from looking your best. They might apply special creams, masks, or wraps, but they won’t work. Toxins cannot be drawn out from your skin, so avoid these claims.

Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Spa Experience

No matter what treatment you decide on, it’s a good idea to do a little research beforehand. Check out your spa of choice and read reviews from other patrons. When you call the spa, inquire about their most popular treatments. Ultimately, choose something that you believe you’ll enjoy, and that will have the greatest benefit to you. If you have dry skin, try a moisturizing facial. If you have a sore back, get a massage. Oftentimes the more simple a treatment is, the better it works. Be skeptical of treatments that sound totally bizarre. And remember, the most expensive treatments aren’t always the best ones.

Natalia Smith is a Spa professional currently living in Hawaii. She uses and recommends Alicia Silverstone Ecotools, particularly the Ecotools Blush Brush.

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My Favourite Spa Treatments

As someone who might reasonably be described as ‘addicted to spas,’ the opportunity to write about my favourite spa treatments is like all my Christmases have come at once. It is a topic that I could happily go on about at great length, describing every pressure point massaged, every enzyme peeled, every oxygen shot blasted and every cell regenerated. When you’re talking about spending an hour or so being drained, pampered, buffed and beautified, emerging at the end looking (or at least feeling) half your age there are plenty of praises to sing.  However, as I only have a limited amount of space (and I suspect most people would lose interest after a page) here is a potted summary of my favourite spa treatments.

spa services

The hot stone massage

Nothing beats this massage for pure relaxation. Treading that fine, spine tingling line between pleasure and pain, the pressure and heat of these warm volcanic stones is enough to smooth out even the most stubborn back kinks. The stones are usually heated up in water before being placed on the body, in key spots such as between your toes, in a line down your spine and in the palms of your hands. As they retain their warmth for some time the end result is like being massaged by about ten hands at once! Try an Aveda ‘Fusion Stone Massage’ to experience the soothing power of the stones, combined with flower and plant essences (

The oxygen blast facial

Not the very latest spa technology, but new enough for it still to be a revelation to most, the oxygen blast facial is a great weapon in the battle against late nights, stress, bad food, lack of sleep or PMT. During the treatment, a range of oxygen infused cleansers, serums and moisturisers are applied, as well as the all important oxygen mask, which pumps pure hydrated oxygen into your skin, leaving it looking plump, healthy and full of life once again. If you are having a dull day or you just feel like your skin needs a bit of a boost then the oxygen blast facial will be a revelation.  Bliss Spa does a particularly effective oxygen blast facial (

Eyelash tinting

Perhaps not a spa ‘treatment’ as such but definitely one of the latest crazes to be sweeping the land of health and beauty. For those of us who get through a mascara a week, the idea of never having to use any seems laughable. However, eyelash tinting is basically the equivalent of applying a permanent mascara – except you don’t have to worry about it running in the rain, you don’t have to remember to take it off when you come home at night slightly tipsy and you won’t every find yourself caught short ‘without your slap on.’ Perfect for summer holidays and lazy girls, most tints will last at least three weeks.  Try the eyelash tinting at the spa at Brown’s Hotel and leave feeling well defined (


Yes it does sound pretty painful but Microdermabrasion is one of the most effective spa treatments for anyone looking for healthier, younger looking skin. Basically, the outer layer of dead skin cells is removed from your face, leaving only the new, shiny layer underneath. After a Microdermabrasion session you might notice fine lines and wrinkles have been reduced and it can also help with pigment or photo damage. Either that or you are just so blinded by the gleam of your new skin that you won’t notice any imperfections. This is the one to make you feel like new again – perfect for big days or big nights (but do it far enough in advance so that any redness or irritation has disappeared).  Try the Microdermabrasion Facial at The Sanctuary to feel renewed (

If you can only afford one treatment and you’re fretting over which one to go for then don’t, because frankly any treatment from a spa is likely to be a pleasurable experience as long as you choose the right spa. Go for somewhere you like the décor, that has had great reviews and where you won’t resent the price so much that it will ruin your treatment.   And make sure you enjoy it – it’s amazing how quickly those 60 minutes can go…

Alexandra also writes about spa deals London for the Deal Zippy Blog.

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The Strangest Spa Treatments

Around the world there are many a strange treatments that different countries and cultures endorse, from the small remote villages in the far east to new contemporary treatments that have made there way into the mainstream treatments found on the high street.

Fish pedicurre skin care

1.       Fish Pedicure

Were they not in every shopping centre, hairdressers and nail salon, we would look at the treatment of having small fish known as garra rufa, also known as doctor fish, exfoliate your feet by soaking your feet in a small tank full of these fish, allowing them to just eat away the dead skin.

This treatment is slightly surreal but when you take a step back to consider the health and sanitization implications of the treatment is when it seems like a bad idea. The fish are reused, sucking on one persons feet, then as they are impossible to clean and sanitize and replacing the fish would be too expensive, you are left with fish that have been sucking on how many other people’s feet.

2.       Israel Snakes

Tension in your back and shoulders? Forget the Swedish massage to relieve it, a spa treatment centre just north of Tel Aviv will place several non-venomous California and Florida snakes on your back. The slithering up and down the back is reported to help with stress and tension in the back.

3.       Golden Facial

Cleopatra and the Ch’ing dynasty are just a couple of the ambassadors for using gold to rejuvenate and revitalize the skin. A Japanese beauty company have developed a 24-karat gold facial treatment, to many positive reviews and endorsements from health officials around the globe. Expect it to cost you a fair amount though.

4.       Cactus Massage

Mexico’s most famous flora has also been utilized into one of the country’s most effective treatment of rehydrating and detoxifying your skin. It is common knowledge that cacti have the sharp prickles to defend their precious insides. Cactus meringue and cactus blossom, massaged in by prick free cactus paddles is the treatment. Cactus overload, but Mexicans have been using this for many years and is a favored treatment in the Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita.

5.       Wet Hay Wrap

The smell of wet hay isn’t something you particularly associate with detoxifying yourself, but the notion of body wrap treatments get pushed further, where you will be soaking in a water bed heated to 100F degrees and wrapped in hay harvested from the beautiful meadows of Alpe di Siusi. With claims that it fortifies your immune system and stimulates your metabolism, many people, including Victoria Beckham, have taken part in this treatment.

These treatments, whilst they probably have some positive effects on the body, they aren’t quite as tried and tested as other treatments that have been around for a millennia.

Andy is a travel advisor for Sanctuary Spa Holidays specialising in Detox Spa Holidays so he hears about all the new and upcoming treatments. Follow him @andym23.

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