1. You'll basically be naked:
After arriving at the spa, a receptionist will take you to the appropriate dressing/locker room depending on your sex, where you'll be given a pair of flip-flops, a robe, and a locker for you to secure your personal belongings. Because you'll be slathered with multiple products from head to toe, it's advised that you take off everything (underpants excepted if you prefer) before putting on that plush robe. P.S.: Now's the optimal time to turn that cell phone off and begin the relaxation process. It's also the perfect time to head to the restroom if nature calls.
2. But not really naked:
You'll then wait in a relaxation area for your esthetician to call you in. He or she (know that you can request the sex of your technician if you have a preference) will lead you to your room where luxury awaits. After asking you a few questions — "How are you feeling today?" "What are your skin concerns?" — you'll be given some privacy to disrobe and slip under the covers of an amazingly cushy facial bed. Note: your esthetician will ensure you are never exposed in any inappropriate or uncomfortable way while he or she is working with you.
3. Get ready to be honest and open:
If you have a skin condition or are worried about anything at all (i.e., pain, scars, having someone see your acne sans makeup, etc.), just let your esthetician know. Remember: They are not there to judge, but help. Don't like the amount of pressure being used during your facial massage? Not digging the aroma being used? Speak up.
4. Know that your skin is probably dehydrated:
An esthetician is going to get up close and personal with your skin, examining it in great detail under a magnifying lamp. Most people will be dehydrated, and not because of lack of water consumption, explains Dani Lamkin, the lead esthetician at Nob Hill Spa at the Huntington Hotel in San Francisco. So get ready for an onslaught of thirst-quenching serums, moisturizers, steamy towels, and masks coming your way.
5. Be prepared for the unexpected:
During a recent visit with Lamkin featuring the superbly refreshing new Darphin Divine Lifting Facial ($205), I had everything from my feet rubbed (oh well on the cracked heels and semichipped polish) to pimples extracted to crystals rubbed around my eyes. And while I may not have had the most recent of shaved legs (or armpits), I never felt judged or uncomfortable in any way. What I did feel, however, was the meditative effects of Darphin's aromatherapy facial, a renewed spirit, and skin that looked vibrant and bright for days and days.
6. Be prepared to exit a tad disheveled:
OK, so you've just been through the
ringer steamer, and while your esthetician likely used a headband or pins to keep your hair away, the bad news is that your hair is probably going to look like it's been pinned and steamed away. Also, because skin has been poked and prodded at, get ready to leave looking a bit red. But don't worry: you'll return to normal within hours. Besides, it's all something that a little concealer and a strategically placed hair accessory can't fix in a flash.