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Spa experiences that get an A+

When you hear the words “day spa”, what comes to mind? If you’re like most women, a trip to the spa is the ultimate luxury — after all, where else can you bliss out, unwind and leave feeling better than before? Unfortunately, not all spas are made equal. We chatted to Junia Kerr from Sage Beauty to get the inside scoop about qualifications, facials and what women should look for when choosing a day spa.

Niamh facial

Signs of a good spa


These days, there seems to be a spa around every corner, but how can you tell if it’s a good one? The first and easiest thing to do is check for qualifications. As it turns out, therapists have to tick off quite a few courses before they’re considered “qualified”. So when you visit a salon (or even its website), skim the walls for certificates. Junia Kerr explains that masseuses should have a Cert 5 in Remedial Massage Therapy, while facialists need at least a Diploma in Beauty Therapy. If you feel a bit iffy about doing a background check, think about this — you can only claim massages with your health fund if the therapist is qualified.

Staff at Sage


A day spa should be serene, a place where you can relax, unwind and treat yourself to some well-deserved pampering. With that in mind, it’s really important to choose a spa with a vibe that suits you. What kind of environment do you like? What beauty philosophy do you follow? For example, Sage Beauty has a holistic and organic approach to beauty, and so it appeals to clients who are conscious about their health and what they put on their skin. (It also has incredible views of Bondi Beach, which adds to its “oasis” feel.) But as Kerr warns, some spas promote a “healthy ethos” when the reality is quite different. Similarly, if you love the high-tech, scientific side of beauty, plenty of spas cater to that. The best way to know if a spa is as nurturing as it claims to be? Word of mouth. If people are saying good things about a spa, chances are it will live up to that reputation.

The treatment menu

One of the most pleasurable parts of the spa experience is flicking through the treatment menu. How will you pamper yourself today? Which massage should you choose? If you’re finding it hard to decide because everything sounds amazing, that’s a sign that the spa is a good match. At a basic level, Kerr says the menu should offer a brief description of the various services and therapies, as well as costs. Better menus will also include the time clients need to set aside for the treatment, if specific products (for example, organic) are used and whether health fund rebates are available. The Sage Beauty menu has the perfect amount of detail and description. It also lists a range of services, including waxing, naturopathy and brows, so it’s great for those women who like all their beauty fixes in the one place. Most salons also sell the products they use in their treatments. Feel free to ask for advice, but don’t feel pressured into buying anything. There’s nothing worse than coming out of a pampering session to find out your therapist doubles as a pushy saleswoman!

Choosing the right facial for your skin type

There’s something so luxurious about getting a facial. During the treatment, the combination of masks, oils, massage and hot and cool towels feels divine, and if the therapist has done their job right, you should walk out with fresh, radiant and squeaky-clean skin. But before you get to that point, you need to choose the facial. Most salons offer facials that are tailored to different skin types, so the first step is to find out what kind of skin you have. Is it oily? Dry? Sensitive? Mature? If you’re not sure, try to pop into the salon before your appointment, or chat to the therapist over the phone. Even better, the Sage Beauty team offers skin consultations, where they examine clients’ skin and suggest suitable treatments.

While dry and oily skin types are fairly easy to treat, ladies with problem and sensitive skin need to be a little more selective when it comes to facials. In a nutshell, Kerr says to avoid facials that include peels, glycolic acid and microdermabrasion, as these all aggravate the skin. If you’re prone to breakouts or adult acne, ditch drying products like benzoyl peroxide. Kerr says, “Why stress out the skin when we can nurture, hydrate and strengthen it, making it look beautiful, dewy and full of vitality?” And: “We should work with our skin, not overload it with products.” The woman has a point! Facials should complement your skin care routine and give it a lush boost every now and then.

Need more help? Check out our intro to facials >>

Dealing with “adverse reactions”

Sometimes your skin just doesn’t agree with a facial. It happens. Redness and irritation are the most common reactions and they usually occur when harsh products have stripped the skin. Without getting too science-y on you, some facials strip the protective layer of our skin. As Kerr explains, “adverse reactions” occur when the “skin then goes into overdrive trying to fix and re-balance itself.” (That’s another reason why it’s so important to make sure the products used in your facial match your skin.) Luckily, Kerr has a few tips and tricks that will soothe irritated and angry skin.

Our favorite spa picks

  • Clay mask: Apply a clay mask and leave it on for around 10 minutes. Go for white clay, not deep cleansing clay as it may dry your skin out. Afterwards, massage in a booster oil to lock in the calming effect. SK loves: MV Organic Signature Clay Mask and Daily Soother are great for healing and nourishing reddened skin.
  • Serums: Since they are a concentrated dose of a good thing, serums are brilliant at hydrating and soothing inflamed or irritated skin. SK loves: Dr Hauschka Conditioning Ampules — Kerr calls them her “magical treats” because they work not only well, but fast! The Regenerating Serum by the same brand is loaded with aloe vera and kalanchoe, which heal and calm skin.
  • Jojoba oil: While jojoba oil is fantastic to use on a daily basis, it also works wonders on irritated skin. It can soothe just about every skin condition, from mild allergic reactions to eczema, psoriasis and rosacea. SK loves: MV Organic Jojoba Oil because of its high-quality jojoba extract and silky feel.

If you would like to visit Kerr and her expert team at Sage Beauty, you can make an appointment on their website.

More about skin care

The best anti-ageing face masks
Spa treatments to splurge on
Skin care tips for sensitive skin types

Photo credits: Sage Beauty

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