Don’t Make This Mistake
Want to know one of the stupidest things I’ve done lately? Almost as stupid as texting while walking down Broadway in NYC even though I swore I’d never be that person? (A near-collision with a cyclist promptly fixed that new habit).
It’s the $300+ dollars I spent on a facial.
I realized how suckered I was right around the time the acclaimed facialist spent 15 minutes dinging some tuning forks around my head and neck, which were slathered with layers of heavily fragranced creams. I left red-faced for two reasons: the facialist overdid it on my sensitive skin and I had paid more than the cost of a really nice outfit for the privilege.
Clearly I overpaid. But I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s felt she paid too much for a spa service: it’s hard to decipher what many treatments should cost. Need some help figuring out when it makes sense to splurge at a nice spa, skimp at less-pricey locations or skip the spa treatment altogether?
Before you book a facial, ask yourself why you want it. Does your skin feel rough? Maybe it’s time to try an exfoliant. Blotches or zits? Your dermatologist may check to see if you actually have rosacea and prescribe a product that will address these issues. If it turns out to be occasional pimples or blackheads, your dermatologist should be able to extract anything that should be extracted and suggest how to best keep them at bay. Wrinkles? Any cream will temporarily plump your skin, but something more aggressive, like prescription retinoids and the powerful microdermabrasion machines used by dermatologists will be more effective in the long run.
You’re better off spending that money on products and medical services that will actually address your underlying concerns. If you’re just looking for that facial “glow”, try a simple DIY yogurt mask and follow up with your favorite moisturizer.
If you're not already an accomplished at-home waxer (like some of my, ahem, hairier friends, who learned at the knees of their equally hairy mothers and grandmothers), this is not the time to start. If not done properly, at-home waxing can burn or remove skin, or just not remove enough hair. Waxing your eyebrows can lead to an unwanted, uneven look — or, at worst, an eye injury. And if you think you can pull off a full Brazilian wax at home, then you’re definitely a lot more flexible than most of us.
If you’re new to waxing, you probably want it done by an experienced professional. Skimp only if you or your friends have already had great results at a specific lower-end salon, and keep an eye out for double-dipping, which can lead to nasty infections.
If you’re paying to be pampered, that’s one thing. But a small investment in cuticle remover, nail clippers, polish and a good file from the drugstore is usually all you need to keep nails looking neat. Take a little time every couple of days for a quick once-over, and use a pumice stone and foot cream to keep calluses away.
Let your fingers and toes dry happily at home while you indulge in a guilty television habit. If you want a pop of color but have terrible aim, try dry nail polish strips.
If you generally have a low-maintenance nail routine, there’s no need to pay for treatment in a salon. If you require paint precision (you don’t have to leave the salon until they get it right), skimp by going to a recommended local salon with affordable options. There’s no reason to spend big bucks on a mani-pedi when you don’t have to.
Body Scrubs and Wraps
The nice part about a body scrub at a spa is that they hit all of the hard-to-reach spots. However, you can also hit all of your bits with a long-handled brush or an inexpensive scrubby nylon towel. Add a DIY body scrub and you’ll get results as polished as at any salon.
If you’re still lured by that detoxifying spa wrap treatment that’s supposed to take off inches and reduce cellulite, accept the fact that you most likely will pay unnecessary money to be wrapped up like a sweaty burrito and stuck in a dark room with interminable New Age music in the background. If that sounds like a pleasant experience, then it’s worth it. Just be aware that those inches you lost will be back as soon as you rehydrate over a day or two. So will the cellulite.
It’s easy to get spa-quality results with an at-home body scrub, while wraps cannot “detoxify” or “reduce” more than anything else that induces excessive sweating.
A good massage can be a wonderful thing: it’s not only simply a relaxing escape from the day, but also a proven stress and anxiety reliever that may also help with headaches, muscle and joint pain, insomnia and fibromyalgia, as well as boosting immunity.
It’s important to go with a licensed massage therapist, especially if you are pregnant or have a medical condition. Check that your masseuse is licensed before you book your spa or salon appointment.
You’re paying for a treatment that not only feels good, but is truly good for you.