Women at a spa in white robes

Spa Etiquette: Answers To Questions You're Afraid To Ask

If you only visit a spa a few times a year - or even if you're a frequent spa-goer - you probably still have a few unanswered questions about “spa etiquette” that you need answers for. Feeling rusty on the usual codes of conduct at the spa but too embarrassed to clarify? Before you book your next facial, wax or massage appointment, read over these spa etiquette questions (and answers) that you’ve been too afraid to ask.

Should you shave before a spa treatment?

This is a very common question and the answer depends on the type of treatment you’ll be receiving. For example, it’s recommended that men shave the night or day before receiving a skin care treatment. For women, shaving before certain spa services could cause irritation. It’s always wise to inquire with the spa receptionist on what type of at-home prep is expected before you show up for your appointment. 

How far in advance can I cancel my spa service?

Most spas have a 24 hours cancellation policy so if you need to cancel, make sure to notify your spa in advance, otherwise you might be charged a fee. 

Is it ok to request a male or female therapist?

If you have a preference for a male or female therapist – then simply ask! This is a common request that can be made when you book your original appointment. 

How early should I arrive for my appointment? 

The rule of punctuality might seem simple, but arriving on-time actually sets the scene for a relaxing spa experience. Arriving at least 15 minutes early allows you to sit back and unwind while you quietly sip on a cup of herbal tea, fill out the necessary paperwork and change into a spa robe if needed. Many spas also offer the use of their sauna and other complimentary amenities to their guests and arriving early to your appointment allows you to take advantage of those fancy spa perks. 

Is it ok to use my cell phone while at the spa? 

There’s nothing more jarring than hearing a cell phone ring as you try to enjoy a rejuvenating spa treatment. Be considerate of your own spa experience as well as the experience of other guests by turning off your cell phone. Remember that you’re there to relax and unwind, and so are others around you. 

Will I be naked during the treatment? 

This is probably the most common question that spa-goers are afraid to ask, but don’t be. Your therapist will make you feel comfortable and will give you instructions about what you should expect when it comes to undressing. If the treatment requires you to remove your clothing, your therapist will leave the room so you can do so privately. As a general rule, most treatments require that you are draped and most spas will provide a robe in the change room. You can often wear underwear during a massage, but for most body and massage treatments you might also be required to disrobe completely. If you’re not sure what to expect – just ask! 

Is it rude to speak up during my spa treatment?  

Your therapist’s role is to create the most enjoyable experience possible, so it’s important to speak up if you have any questions or concerns. Before the treatment begins, make the spa staff aware if you’re pregnant, nursing or if you have any allergies or medical conditions.  It’s also important to let your therapist know when you feel uncomfortable at any time during your spa service. Whether it’s the pressure of the massage, room temperature, or even if you prefer more quiet time with less chit chat, make your therapist aware. You’re paying for a service and your esthetician will be more than happy to accommodate your needs. 

Should I leave a tip? 

In most cases, tipping is discretionary, but not mandatory. When it comes to tipping your therapist, a 15-20% gratuity is standard in North America and always appreciated, especially when you receive exceptional service. 

Have we inspired you to book your next spa appointment? To find an Eminence authorized spa location near you, see the Spa Locator on our website. 

When Alicia gave her first Eminence facial working at a spa, she fell in love right away! Bringing over 10 years of experience as an esthetician – and a passion for skincare and organic ingredients – she evolved into her current position in Product Support at Eminence. Her favorite part of being a skin therapist? Being able to educate individuals on proper care for their skin and to make them feel their best inside and out. 


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Eminence Locations Featured In Spas Of America’s Top 100 Spas Of 2014
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Top 10 List: USA TODAY Names Best Hotel Spas