Mind Your Manners

Mind Your Manners: Spa Etiquette for a Relaxing, Comfortable Experience

Spa Etiquette for a Relaxing, Comfortable Experience

Whether you’re thinking about booking your first spa treatment or want to get the most out of your next massage, follow these etiquette tips to ensure the best experience for you and your aesthetician.

Before Your Visit

When you book your appointment, inform the receptionist of any special needs, medical conditions, or specific preferences (for instance if you’d prefer a male or female aesthetician). Cross check your calendar and work around upcoming events. Certain procedures, such as rough exfoliating, can leave skin red and irritated. Ask about the spa’s cancellation policy in case a conflict comes up, and if the treatment is all-inclusive. Some treatments, such as facials, may feature add-ons for an additional charge.

Stay away from alcohol or heavy meals before your treatment. Do drink plenty of water: Spa treatments can release toxins from your body so it’s important to hydrate before and after, especially if you plan to use a steam room or sauna.

Arrive between 15 to 30 minutes early to check in and unwind. Wear casual clothes and leave jewelry at home. Most treatments require you to remove all jewelry and most spas aren’t responsible for lost or stolen items. As long as you aren’t getting a wax, use the steam room before treatment. It can aid in relaxation but can cause skin irritation during a wax.

During the Treatment

Typically, after checking in you’ll be led to a changing room, handed a robe, and shown to a locker to store belongings. In most cases, it’s ideal to strip down completely, but undress according to your comfort level. Aestheticians are careful to keep clients mostly covered under a sheet and expose just the areas they’re working on. For scrubs or wraps, feel free to wear a bathing suit. Alternatively, opt for a Thai or shiatsu massage, which allows loose fitting clothes.

Don’t be afraid to let your aesthetician know what they can do to make the experience more enjoyable. Speak up about the room temperature or music, or if they’re using too much pressure. Don’t forget to turn off your cell phone as a courtesy to others and so that you enjoy the treatment without interruptions.

Your aesthetician may recommend products during treatments, but if you prefer quiet time, ask the aesthetician if he or she can write down the products once finished so you can review them. Don’t feel pressured to purchase anything. Once your treatment is over, take your time getting dressed, but remember others may be waiting. Your aesthetician should wait for you outside to lead you to the next destination, but always ask questions if you don’t know. If available, most spas allow clients to use the steam room or sauna afterward.


Don’t stress about tipping to the staff immediately. You may add it to the bill on your way out; Just ask if a tip is included first; some spas build it into the charge. A standard tip is 15 to 20 percent of the original cost (factor in any discounts you may have received). If you received more than one service and need to divvy up the tip, the receptionist can help distribute it to everyone. Just as with other services, tips are not mandatory but a courtesy to show your appreciation.

Mind Your Manners: Spa Etiquette for a Relaxing, Comfortable Experience InfographicConclusion

A spa treatment is meant to relax and rejuvenate. Arriving early helps ensure a stress-free experience and provides time to wind down in the waiting room or sauna beforehand. Keep the atmosphere a relaxing haven by avoiding talk about politics, religion, or work. Don’t forget to ask questions—the spa staff is there to help you!

By Danielle Emig

Danielle Emig is a freelance writer and lipstick lover living in New York City. Originally from Portland, she moved to the big city with only a suitcase full of shoes and a mind bursting with dreams. It was her desire for adventure that led her to NYC, and even working unpaid internships and odd jobs to make ends meet — like cocktail waitressing at a pirate-themed bar — wouldn’t deter her from making it as a writer and editor. Two years later, she landed at InStyle Magazine and hasn’t looked back since. When she’s not sipping out of a lipstick-stained wineglass, Danielle loves to cook, make jewelry, and hang out on her fire escape.