Spa Gifts for Pampering Yourself and Others
The demands of the holiday season can be many. And while most of your time will be spent seeking relaxation gifts for loved ones, you shouldn’t remove yourself from the equation. Pampering yourself is an important way to rejuvenate and to enjoy the best the season has to offer.
So when you’re looking for gifts for others, make sure to set aside spa gifts for yourself—or find something you and a friend, relative, or significant other can enjoy together. Our guide to pampering spa treatments will give you a head start in giving the gift of relaxation.
What is it? It’s like a heating pad times 10. The modality employs smooth basalt stones or river rocks that have been heated to a uniform temperature in a temperature-controlled water bath. (Basalt stones are very rich in iron, which makes them particularly great at retaining heat.) Experts say 127 degrees Fahrenheit is the optimal temperature for a body massage. The therapist then places them on points along the body to create soothing pressure and uses them as massage tools to knead muscles with a steady pressure.
Why is it relaxing? The heated stones create a pleasant sensation that also helps melt away tension. That makes muscle fiber more flexible, enabling massage therapists to work out deeply buried knots. They also increase blood circulation, which relieves inflammation and sends in a fresh supply of oxygen to restore injured tissues. Hot-stone massage gifts offer an experience that’s deeply soothing but also functional when it comes to relieving painful, tight muscles.
Who is it for? Anyone who thinks they’re too ticklish for a traditional massage.
What is it? In the US, a salt cave or salt room is usually a manmade structure within a spa. Inside, guests recline comfortably—sometimes in a zero-gravity chair to add a dream-like state of weightlessness—while surrounded by glittering salt blocks and loose salt, usually imported from Himalayan mines or Eastern European seas. The warm air is imbued with a dry salt aerosol that clients’ bodies are meant to absorb. Proponents of the therapy posit that the mineral content can help relieve certain respiratory ailments and skin conditions.
Why is it relaxing? Even if you’re not sold on the health benefits, it’s easy to see how a salt cave would be an excellent place for an hour’s worth of quiet contemplation. The warmth enveloping the room, the dim light shimmering off salt-licked walls, the soft music washing through it all—this is a prime destination for meditative stress relief.
Who is it for? Anyone who doesn’t mind sitting serenely by themselves, like introverted types.
Want to know more? “It was one of the most relaxing and peaceful experiences I’ve ever had.” How’s that for a ringing endorsement? Check out one of Groupon’s beauty bloggers testing the salt-cave experience.
What is it? It’s the most basic of the facials, but it’s a classic for a reason: simultaneously general enough for all skin types and personalized to the individual. A European facial includes six basic steps—cleansing, exfoliation, steam, extractions, a custom mask, and moisturizing—that are meant to leave the skin looking rejuvenated and nourished. And, since it’s recommended for general upkeep, you can get one every few weeks if you desire.
Why is it relaxing? The amount of personal attention devoted to you, mainly. You get to lie back and zone out as the aesthetician obsesses over every detail of your face. And a well-trained aesthetician is adept at making their movements into an ongoing facial massage.
Who is it for? Anyone who wants to know what this whole “luxury skincare” thing is about.
What is it? Inside a float tank, every step is taken to reduce sensory experience. The air and water are skin temperature, and the tank itself is light- and soundproof. You float in the water due to its high Epsom-salt content and are encouraged to spread out your limbs, blurring the boundary between the body and its environment. Patrons frequently report that in this sensory-deprived state, physical and mental stressors seem to melt away.
Why is it relaxing? Like a salt cave, a float tank invites inward contemplation. It may even go a step further and quiet a running interior monologue, leaving you to just float and be.
Who is it for? Anyone who would like to get their mind far, far away from a recurring physical ailment or learn how to relax even when burdened by a stressful schedule.
What is it? Exactly what it sounds like—an afternoon or a full day of pampering, meant to leave you feeling rejuvenated from the inside out. Depending on the spa, services typically include body scrubs, mani-pedis, massages, and perhaps sessions in an infrared sauna. Make it an event by planning a couples spa day or a girls’ day for a group of friends.
Why is it relaxing? Many spas make the experience special with extras like chocolates and champagne or a plush robe to wear during your visit. And through it all, the focus is on what will make you look and feel great.
Who is it for? Anybody who really needs get away from it all, whether that means de-stressing from a demanding job or spending time away from the kids.
What is it? Bath houses usually feature hot and cold pools, hot tubs, saunas, steam rooms, spa treatments, and restaurants all under one roof. A tradition in cultures across the globes, the bath house is often a communal experience, at least when it comes to taking an aquatic plunge or basking in the steam. You don’t have to talk to anyone else if you don’t want to, but visitors are encouraged to stay for hours at a time accompanied by their family members or intimate friends.
Why is it relaxing? Devoting an entire day to your own enjoyment seems like an unattainable luxury, but many bath houses grounded in ethnic communities are quite affordable. Their services tend to emphasize invigorating hot and cold therapies, as well as massages and body scrubs.
Who is it for? Anyone who prefers a more communal—and often more masculine—approach to their relaxation.
What is it? Nail technicians tend to your cuticles, cut and shape your nails, and exfoliate the skin on your hands and feet. They then apply nail art that’s as simple or complex as you’d like. Many nail salons offer indulgent add-ons like paraffin wax, hot-towel wraps, and scalp massages.
Why is it relaxing? A technician do all the work while you sink into a comfy chair and flip through a magazine while ignoring your overflowing email inbox. And, in addition to painting nails better than you probably can, the techs also provide massages and moisturizing skin treatments.
Who is it for? Anyone who gets antsy or feels wasteful spending more than an hour or so seated in one place. Perfect for type-A personalities who merely need a screen break.