A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

13 Etiquette Rules You Need to Know Before You Book a Spa Day

To bare or not to bare? Is saying “Ouch!” considered rude? Does the treatment room have to be so cold? Your spa etiquette questions, answered.

1 / 13

Should I eat something before my appointment?

Yes, a light meal will keep you from passing out, but you don’t want to be too full. Avoid rich foods and high caloric meals.

2 / 13

What about drinking?

Definitely don’t get your booze on before the spa. For one thing, you’ll get too dehydrated, and you probably won’t fully appreciate the experience since alcohol drains energy. Stick with water, but not so much that you keep running to the bathroom.

3 / 13

Should I be concerned about my breath?

No offense, but yes, as a common courtesy. On the way to the spa, chew mint gum or try one of these other bad breath remedies so you don’t smell like your lunch the entire time. Your massage therapist will appreciate it, too.

4 / 13

Do I need to shave?

It depends. For guys getting a facial, shave the night before so your skin is less sensitive. Luckily for you ladies, there’s no need to shave your legs (or anything else) for any treatment.

5 / 13

How early should I get to the spa?

You should plan on arriving 30 minutes before your appointment. That gives you time to check in, shower off, and let the relaxation begin.

6 / 13

Wait, I need to shower?

Just a quick rinse so you don’t smell. Pay special attention to your feet. The International Spa Association even recommends spending time in a steam room or sauna before massages and body treatments to loosen muscles and improve circulation (but not before getting waxed, as that could hurt your skin). Just don’t overly cleanse; the therapists want to see your real skin so they know what they’re working with.

7 / 13

Can I use the bathroom during the treatment?

Yes, but it’s inconvenient for the therapist to stop. Make sure you take care of business beforehand.

8 / 13

Should I take everything off?

Yes, as long as you’re comfortable doing that. Some people do leave underwear on, but it could get greasy from the oils. You’ll also need to take off any and all jewelry.

9 / 13

Do I need to keep my eyes open?

Please don’t. You could get products in your eyes. Plus, keeping them closed relaxes the muscles in your head.

10 / 13

Is there anything I should tell my therapist before the treatment starts?

For your safety, let your technicians know about any injuries or medical issues, especially circulatory problems like a blood clot. Also notify them if you’re going to an event later that day. Then they’ll avoid procedures that will leave marks, like cupping, and ones that make your skin purge. (This is when new pimples suddenly appear as the result of a cleansing product. Eventually, they disappear and leave your skin looking better than before the treatment.)

11 / 13

Am I allowed to talk during this?

You can definitely speak up if something hurts or feels uncomfortable, or even if you want to change the music or temperature. Spa technicians are there to make you feel as relaxed and rejuvenated as possible, so they’re more than willing to change up what they’re doing to fit your needs. However, they aren’t there to listen to your complaints about traffic or how your boyfriend is getting on your nerves. Mindless ranting is counter-productive to relaxation.

12 / 13

Do I need to buy the products my therapist recommends?

Not at all. The employees get paid to try to sell the spa’s products, but don’t feel pressured to buy anything you don’t want. If that happens, politely decline with “Thank you, but the massage was enough for me.” Besides, there are other ways to relax at home.

13 / 13

How much should I tip?

An appropriate tip is 20 percent of the full service price, even if you bought the treatment at a discount. Be sure to tip in cash, otherwise the technician won’t get it until his or her next paycheck comes.