The holiday season is upon us and spa gift cards are on many people’s wish list. Giving the gift of spa is ideal, whether it’s a manicure and pedicure for a friend, a day at the spa for mom or a spouse, or perhaps you’re planning to take someone with you for a duet massage, allowing time to share the experience and reconnect with a loved one.
Ensuring your spa visit is safe is essential while stories of infections and illness resulting from poor quality spa treatments are all too common. Recognizing the limited government oversight into safety and hygiene in the spa industry, the Spa Industry Association of Canada (SIAC) and Leading Spas of Canada (LSC) created a national Quality Assurance program to address the need for standards and best practices to protect the health and wellness of spa-goers as well as spa employees. It’s the only national program of its kind in the country.
When visiting a Canadian spa, ask if your spa is a member of SIAC and Leading Spas of Canada, or if they have received their Quality Assurance Approved designation.
When visiting a spa in any locale, here are a few suggestions from the Canadian Spa Industry Association on what to look for to help safeguard yourself.
- Research the spa. Read online reviews, ask friends and check out the website to learn more about the facilities, cancellation policies, product lines, etc. Some will even include information about the staff members and their credentials.
- When you request your reservation, learn what to expect from your service. Is there anything you need to do to prepare and any special instructions on what to wear?
- The receptionist and therapist are ambassadors of the spa, so be aware of their hygiene.
- Arrive early and politely request a quick tour of the facility. If you’re not comfortable asking for a tour or if it’s not offered, visit the restroom and take the opportunity to look around. Observe if the facilities appear clean and well-maintained.
- A professional spa standard and courtesy is to have each guest complete a medical form prior to treatment. Service providers need to be aware of any health concerns that may adversely affect you while receiving your spa treatment. If this is not done, your therapist should inquire about any medical conditions that may be relevant to the service you have requested prior to beginning your spa treatment.
- Be certain to communicate accurate health information.
- Look for or ask to see the technician’s license or certification. Some spas may have the staff’s certificates or licenses displayed on the walls. Others may have a book of them available for the guest to review. Even asking details about your spa practitioner can give you a great idea of their qualifications.
- When visiting a medical spa, ask about the physician in charge. Are they on-site or available for consultations? Who will be administering your medical treatments – is it a physician, registered nurse or a specially trained medical aesthetician and how experienced are they?
- Check the surfaces around the treatment area. Does everything appear clean and organized?
- Are the tools clean? Ensure items like nail files are new and not re-used.
- How does the spa sterilize their tools? At the very least, they should be using a liquid disinfectant followed by an autoclave that provides hospital-grade sterilization. If in doubt, ask!
- Service providers must wash their hands before beginning the treatment and apply anti-bacterial gel or spray. In addition, gloves should be worn when performing extractions, doing pedicures or waxing.
- Observe how the staff is cleaning and disinfecting manicure and pedicure bowls between guests. Disinfectants should have a DIN (drug identification number) signifying it is a government-approved disinfectant. Don’t hesitate to ask the spa if they are using a hospital grade disinfectant. Note that some spas utilize single-use plastic bags to line the pedicure or manicure bowls for effective sanitation.
- No double-dipping. Ensure all lotions and creams that are being used are dispensed in a way that avoids contamination. No dipping fingers into the products!
- During a waxing treatment, spas should use disposable or paper bed sheets, or a fresh bed sheet or towel for each guest. And watch that your service provider is using a fresh stick each time more wax is needed.
- Is the pillow case on your bed fresh and free of hair? Clean linens are critical! Check that a fresh robe, towel, head band, etc is being used.
- Clean slippers, disposable paper sandals, or a fresh bath mat should be provided any time and any place you may be walking with bare feet.
- If the spa serves light snacks, are they pre-dispensed in a sealed bag or container or does the bowl have a spoon to dispense without reaching in with your hands?
Most importantly, if you are feeling unsure about any aspect of the spa facilities, your practitioner or your treatment, it is your right and duty to ask questions. Your comfort and peace of mind is essential to a positive spa experience.