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Spa Etiquette

It's hard to feel completely liberated from work and family stresses if you're facing a set of new ones, like whether you're overdressed for your massage or undertipping an aesthetician. Sidestep these little land mines so that nothing sabotages your spa experience.

Take It All Off (Or Don't)
You're led into a changing room, handed a robe, and told to undress…um, all the way? For massages and body treatments, ideally you disrobe completely (that means underwear, too). Most spas offer paper panties to wear during body treatments (like scrubs, wraps, or self-tanning)—they don't cover much, but enough to provide a modicum of modesty. "You should undress only to your level of comfort, though," says Bambi Montgomery, owner of Honey Child Salon and Spa in Chicago and Hive in Los Cabos, Mexico. "We have some clients who bring a bathing suit when they're getting a scrub or wrap." You can also request a same-sex therapist when you book your appointment if that makes you feel more at ease. And you'll never be completely exposed. "Massage therapists and aestheticians are well trained in the art of draping, so they'll uncover only areas they're working on," says Lynne Walker McNees, president of the International Spa Association. If getting anywhere close to naked with a stranger (no matter how adept at draping) is not your idea of a relaxing experience—but you still want some spa pampering—consider Thai massage or shiatsu, for which you wear your own loose-fitting clothes. For a facial, take off your bra (or at least lower the straps) before you slip into a robe, so it doesn't interfere with the neck and shoulder massage.