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Area day spas offer the ultimate in pampering ยป


The cold air hit my skin like a slap. After 15 minutes of gently steaming in a capsule machine, my esthetician cruelly exposed me to the air and kindly covered me in lavender-scented sea salt. The steaming resumed, and another 15 minutes later, I left the room with softer skin and less stress than I had brought in with me.

After 15 minutes of gently steaming in a capsule machine, my esthetician cruelly exposed me to the air and kindly covered me in lavender-scented sea salt. The steaming resumed, and another 15 minutes later, I left the room with softer skin and less stress than I had brought in with me.

It was blissful - and just the beginning of the pampering I received during my five-hour "full spa day" at Diva's Hair and Day Spa in Ashland.

Day spas are cropping up all over the region, as more people look for ways to escape the hectic pace of life in the 21st century. No vacation, or relaxation day, should lack a visit to one.

"There's a huge, upscale baby boomer generation out there that definitely wants to be pampered," said Sandra L. Lovern, co-owner of His or Hers Salon and Spa, near Brandermill in Chesterfield County.

Well, I'm not a baby boomer, but I'm all for being pampered. And what could be more relaxing than a massage, an aromatherapy steam, or a dose of hydrotherapy?

Try doing all of them, and more, in the same day.

Richmond-area day spas, which have their own category in the Yellow Pages, offer long lists of tempting treatments. Indulging in one or two can be fun, but for total relaxation, some spa owners recommend a half-day or whole day of services.

That's how I came to be steaming in Diva's aromatherapy steam capsule, which came after my facial and before I slipped into the 9-foot-long hydrotherapy tub and was massaged by its 187 jets.

Those three experiences took about three hours, and primarily involved lying alone in a darkened room, listening to instrumental music. Melissa, my esthetician, cared for my skin and prepared my steam and bath, but otherwise I was on my own.

"You can basically come here and get away from everyone you know," said Jane Moates, owner of Diva's.

Getting away isn't the only benefit that spa visitors reap. From facials to pedicures, all of the services are designed to improve the body as well as soothe the mind.

By the time I emerged from the hydrotherapy tub, every muscle in my body had turned to mush. And after a morning of intense attention being paid to my physical self, my catered lunch tasted like ambrosia.

Lunch was followed by a manicure and pedicure, which both involved light massage. I emerged from Diva's feeling primped, pampered and pretty, albeit a little overwhelmed by all the attention.

I should have been headed for a night on the town instead of going back to work.

But don't get the idea that day spas are just a female thing. Men are increasingly joining the ranks of spa-goers, and several spas have packages that cater to men. Once men try it, they're hooked, owners say.

"My husband, for his first [massage], was very uptight about it," said Gloria Rose, the other co-owner of His or Hers. "When he came out, he was begging for the next one."

Michael Wood, co-owner of Nesbit The Complete Body Salon in Richmond, said that men are indulging in massages, pedicures, manicures and facials. The owners of His or Hers agree.

"Men are definitely coming into the world of beauty," Lovern said.

Regardless of the number of seaweed wraps, mud baths or sea-salt soaks out there, massage remains among the most popular services that spas offer.

"A plain old, good massage - you can't beat that," said Wood, a massage therapist himself before joining with hairstylist Nesbit Hatch to create their nationally recognized salon.

The benefits of having a massage go beyond loosening sore muscles. Stimulating the muscles and skin increases blood circulation and helps rid the body of toxins, said Mark Mozingo, a massage therapist at His or Hers. Over time, massage can help decrease blood pressure as well, he said.

Which is why Mozingo, who like all massage therapists is certified by the Virginia Board of Nursing, believes that people should have massages once a month.

"It's like preventative maintenance for the body," he said.

So go indulge. It's good for you.




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