Going to a spa and being pampered with a massage, facial, manicure or pedicure is a luxury many people love to indulge in.
But when you have allergies to specific skin-care products, the idea of going to the spa might not be so relaxing.
Most allergy sufferers are aware of what causes their allergies, so if something used for one of the treatments at a spa could cause you to have a reaction, you should let the spa know prior to booking your appointment, says Gaye Sihin, assistant manager at Toronto’s Elm Spa.
“To ensure comfort and ease for both service provider and spa guest, we encourage a proactive approach and sharing of information at time of booking,” says Sihin. “As with most things, knowledge is power; the more information we have, the better. This will allow our spa care experts to prepare and make substitutions as necessary.”
At all spas, guests are required to fill in a health history form, as regulated by the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario, before treatment. Before commencement of both aesthetic and massage services, spa care experts and registered massage therapists conduct a verbal consultation to ensure guests know what to expect.
Some spas use products with natural ingredients but even still, reactions may occur. Mike Nasser, owner of Avalon Salon and Spa in Calgary, says his spa uses mostly water-based products so to avoid reactions.
“People with allergies would have to use something that’s water based, so that includes anything you put on the face or anything you put in the water for pedicures,” he says.
For those with severe nut allergies, avocado mud masks might also pose a danger.
“You have to read and get educated about the product carefully,” Nasser says. “If you have a product you use at home, you could bring it with you and we’ll use that instead.
“You’ll have to talk to the esthetician beforehand to do a test, so for example in the hair business, if you’re allergic to the hair colouring we put a little spot behind your ear to examine what the reaction is going to be.”
Spas such as Fiorio carry a specific sensitive line that they use when people have allergies. But what happens if someone has a reaction during or following a treatment?
Sonia Marques, esthetician/manager, says that depending on the reactions, they are able to control it before it gets out of hand. Things such as cold compresses followed by an application of decongestant gel and soothing protection cream calms the skin and reduces redness and itchiness.
“Sometimes we can use a mask that will calm it right down, which we call our 9-1-1 mask,” she says. “If the allergy is within 24 hours, usually they have to go to their doctor or take some Benadryl to calm it down — it depends if it’s asthma or hives.”