Sometimes the spa can be the scariest f*cking place ever.
It’s perfectly ironic that the one place where we’re supposed to unwind and let all our inhibitions go is actually terrifying. Sure, the massages are great, but do you really have to get totally naked for them? What if you didn’t shave your legs since Fourth of July?
Same goes for nail salons and hair stylists: What if your hair hasn’t been washed in a week? What if you just came back from the gym and your feet stink like a sweaty yoga mat?
We caught up with some of our favorite spa owners, nail technicians and hair gurus to see what really grinds their gears.
Let it go to voicemail.
Adriana Martino, founder of SKINNEY Medspa, warned against answering your phone or texting during a treatment. “It isn’t the best thing to do (unless there’s an emergency) as you should pay close attention to what treatment you are having done."
She also added that the treatment should be a time to build "a trusted relationship with your esthetician or technician for optimal results” — not a time to answer all your Tinder matches.
Kattia Solano, owner of Butterfly Studio Salon, felt similarly about having your iPhone out while getting your hair done. “Not only does the phone physically get in the way of the service you’re receiving, it is distracting to your stylist and to clients enjoying their salon time.”
If you’re getting a manicure, OPI Ambassador Elsa Barbi agreed that phones can take away from the experience. “It’s difficult,” she explains, “to perform a service when [a client’s] hands are occupied with a magazine or cell phone."
Pedicures, however, are a different story. Seeing as your hands aren’t occupied, feel free to text everyone on your contact list or hop on a quick call (just don’t be loud).
Leave your friend at home.
Sorry, but unless your BFF is also getting a service done, leave her or him at home.
“If you are with a friend, you’re moving your head back and forth during conversation without realizing it, making it less efficient and harder to work around,” Solano explained. “With no obstacles to work around, we can get you on your way with the perfect look and style quickly!"
Chatting is always welcome.
No need to awkwardly stare at the floor when getting your hair or nails did.
Skyy Hadley, owner of As U Wish Nail Spa, loves to chat with her clients especially if they’re regulars. "Most of my clients come in every week so it’s nice to catch up with them and hear about what they have going on in their personal lives."
Barbi likened nail techs to therapists, which beats having to pay a small fortune for a session.
"Sometimes clients just want to sit in their chair and relax and then sometimes we get clients who just can’t stop talking. Either way, we need to be flexible and adapt to what they want. I must caution though; listen more than offer advice, you never know who knows who."
Solano agreed that chatting with a client is a perk, but it’s important to wait until your stylist isn’t extremely busy. "I recommend feeling out how busy or engaged the stylist is in that moment - based on how concentrated they need to be. I feel the perfect balance includes a mix of personal and beauty talk - leaving enough time for us to give you those great hair tips!"
The golden rule?
"I was always taught to never engage in conversations about politics or religion,” Barbi warned.
Chipotle can wait.
Grab takeout on your way home, not at the salon.
Martino insisted that not only is eating improper etiquette, but it’s also “unsanitary while in a sterile medical environment.” Some treatments (like Coolsculpting), however, take around two hours to complete and clients are welcome to order lunch while catching up on Netflix or Apple TV.
For Solano, eating at the salon follows the same rule your workplace does. “If you need to eat, please consider not choosing something smelly or sloppy!” AKA no burritos.
“I prefer that a client isn’t eating while receiving a manicure service,” Barbi agreed. “It makes it difficult between switching hands and asking them to sanitize their hands between bites."
If you’re unhappy, speak up.
This is the one place where if you don’t have something nice to say, you should say it anyway.
Barbi insisted that if a client is unhappy, it’s important to share that they’re uncomfortable or don’t like something. Conversely, it’s important for the technician to check in and educate their client on what’s currently going on.
Hadley agreed that clients should always voice any issues because it’s easier to fix something halfway than having to finish a manicure or pedicure only to have someone be displeased with her work.
"If it’s something I can fix, it’s much better for me to know at the beginning of the service before I repeat it on every nail,” she explains. “For example, if they don’t like the color they chose, I am totally fine removing it from a few nails rather than finishing the manicure or pedicure and then having them tell me they don’t like."
Martino sums it up well, “Communication and understanding the full process is best, so speak up! You’ll be happy you did."
Birthday suits are welcome.
If you’re uncomfortable stripping down to your skivvies, Martino recommends sticking to one esthetician or technician that makes you feel most at ease. “After the first session, 95 percent of clients feel completely comfortable,” Martino recalls.
If you’re one of the five percent that isn’t, SKINNEY Medspa and other salons carry disposable panties and robes, perfect for keeping all your lady bits covered.
Don’t feel bad about bringing your own stuff.
“I respect clients who bring their own tools,” Barbi explained. “This means that their health is important to them.”
Solano allows her clients to bring their own products within reason. If you have allergies and don’t want to risk using something new, feel free to bring your own hairspray (or whatever). If there’s a certain treatment you’re on, stick to it and bring it in.
Tools are a different story.
"I like to think we spend a lot of time doing our research as professionals to choose the best tools for the health and texture of your hair,” Solano advised. “When someone brings in their favorite brush, I find it's usually not the best for their hair type."
Don’t be a Neanderthal.
Practice basic human hygiene prior to heading to the spa. Your date is most likely not going to be impressed with your two-week-old unshaved legs, and neither will your technician.
“Definitely shave before coming in,” Martino recommends.
If you were trying to squeeze-in a last-minute spin class prior to laser hair removal, be sure to at least shower beforehand. If there’s no time, use a cleansing wipe (which SKINNEY carries) and wipe down prior to starting your treatment.
Remember, just because you’re going to leave looking pretty, doesn’t mean you should come in looking like a grizzly bear.