A Modern Man’s Guide to Spa Etiquette

If you are a gentleman and preparing to head to a spa, worry not, our Spa Spies have you covered in this manly FAQ.

Dear Spa Spy, I have a scattering of back hair and a fashionably large beard. Should I shave or wax before my spa day?

The conservative estimate is not to wax/shave less than 48 hours before your facial, as your skin will be raw and tender and won’t respond well to heat treatments, products and pools. You don’t want to come out of a spa looking like you’ve been slapped - questions may be asked about your honour. I have been told that hot stones can catch on back hair, but for some this isn’t an issue. You can always tell them to avoid your more hirsute areas, or stick with a massage. If you are sporting full-blown hipster whiskers, there is the risk that face mask removal might invite unmanly screams. However, a very nice gentleman therapist from Aqua Sana recently informed me that facials plus beards are totally doable.

Dear Spa Spy, My girlfriend has booked me in for a spa day. What is the etiquette re smooching?

Same as public pools, no heavy petting, no ducking or diving. Your default stance should be gentlemanly respect, for other spa users, for your girlfriend and for yourself. Act as though you are going out for dinner, or are sitting on an unusually hot tube train. Open the sauna door for others. Avoid below-eye contact. Discuss this with your partner beforehand if you suspect she might be the type to suddenly force you into an uncompromising position in the whirlpool, a situation that’s horrendously awkward for all concerned. If still unsure, book a private couple’s suite (spa-speak for ‘get a room’).

Man in spa

Dear Spa Spy, The idea of turning off my mobile seems a bit extreme. What if someone needs to contact me urgently? Also, I need it to relax.

In the old days people used to relax by doing nothing, or simple staring into space. I know it sounds barbaric, but middle-distancing is surprisingly easy - and it doesn’t raise your cortisol levels. If you’re going to tell me that you use your phone to read engaging news features, stop, we all know you’re playing Crossy Road. Studies have shown that being unable to answer your phone can spike stress and anxiety. Imagine hearing it ping away during a blissful treatment, or worrying about it getting wet or lost while you’re trying to relax in the steam room. Try weening yourself at home before your spa day: fifteen minutes in another room while you do something else then, the next day, half an hour, and so on. If you do manage to put it away, you’ll be amazed how liberating it feels. Instead of getting wound up by Angry Birds, close your eyes and drift away...

Dear Spa Spy, What is the difference between a male and female treatment? Is it acceptable to go off-piste and pick something from the general spa menu, are there things that only work for ladies’ skin?

There is no essential difference between a male and female treatment – why shouldn’t you have a detoxing mud wrap, or a pedicure to pep up your toes for summer thongs? There might be some products that have more floral fragrances, although why that’s still relevant in this metrosexual, gender neutral era, I have no idea. Many aromatherapy treatments have unisex herby and citrusy fragrances. Facials aimed at men sometimes include an old-fashioned cut throat razor shave, but if you want an anti-ageing facial, you’ll have the same collagen and hyaluronic-acid boosting goodies as the girls. Go off-piste, break out of your comfort zone; we salute your adventurousness.

  • Author

    Suave Spy

  • Age 30s
  • Skin type Sensitive

Spa Likes

"Tepedariums (heated seats make my spa day); pools you can actually swim in; eucalyptus steams rooms; deep tissue massages."

Spa Dislikes

"Anything to do with ice or cold plunge pools; having to go outside mid-spa day; other people talking loudly; hot tubs with the bubbles on!"