New Rules: Spa Etiquette for the Digital Age

Do new spa etiquette rules apply in the age of mobile apps and deals galore? Read on to find out!

We’re living in fast times with gadgets for just about everything and with beauty services that blur the line between spa and medical. And that means new rules may apply. Or do they? We checked in with local experts for their advice.

Are silent gadgets okay in the spa?

In nearly all resort and day spas, you’ll spot a sign stating that cell phones are not allowed. And if you’re like me, you’ll probably start hyperventilating at the very thought. Yes, spas are about relaxing and leaving your worries at the door but it’s way more stressful for me to not have access to my cell phone. In this day of uber-connectivity, many people feel more at-ease if they can simply scroll through their recent emails, visual voicemails and text messages a few times during their day of relaxation. They might not respond, but they want to stay in the loop.

Carol Ford, director of the  Joya Spa at Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia in Paradise Valley, believes that while that may be true, it’s not okay for a spa.

“Even on a setting of vibrate, cell phones are annoying in a quiet space … plain and simple.  That’s not even taking into account the cast of an iridescent blue light in a softly lit relaxation lounge!”

Carol points out that stress reduction experts always recommend that the best way to totally calm your mind is to be alone. That means disconnecting from people (and yes, the Internet!) and spending a little time with yourself. Whether its mediating, daydreaming, reading a book or going for a long walk, it’s vital to settle into yourself.

“Do your mind, body and sprit a big favor … disconnect!”

Do you tip on pricey med spa services?

You just paid $400 for the latest and greatest laser treatment. What in the heck do you do about the tip? Most people are unsure when it comes to handling the tip on pricey treatments. If you stick to the somewhat standard 20% rule, you’ll be shelling out an additional $80 for tip.

“You wouldn’t tip a doctor for medical services. We encourage our aestheticians to reject the first offering of a tip. If the client offers a second time, we try to get them to buy a product for themselves instead. If they insist on tipping, which some do, we won’t be rude,” says Bonnie LaRussa from All About You Medspa in Tempe.

Aesthetician Maggie Sorden with Arizona Vein & Laser Institute in Glendale agrees.

“In my experience, people do not usually tip on med spa or cosmetic services. If I do receive a tip on med spa services it is typically $5 to $20 depending more on the person than on the service,” she says.

“Even though I work in a med spa, I typically do get tipped 20% on basic aesthetic services such a facials, waxing, etc.”

How do you tip on services purchased as a series?

These days you can find some amazing deals at spas or salons if you’re willing to purchase in packages – it’s common for many services, from airbrush tans to laser hair removal. But how do you tip on packages? Because you are paying upfront for a series of services, are you expected to tip on the package upfront or tip every time you redeem a treatment?

I regularly purchase packages for airbrush tanning from Moziak Skin & Body in Scottsdale and it saves me a pretty penny. I feel weird tipping on the whole package upfront, but then I run into the problem of NEVER having cash when I come in to tan and I don’t feel right having them run my credit card for a tip. So, I asked the million-dollar question and here’s what I learned:

“I would suggest that you tip the person who provides the service each time you use your package, rather than tipping on the whole package.” says Natalie Stabb with Hydrate Salon & Spa in Scottsdale.

She explains that you can tip on the whole package upfront, but in most cases only one person will receive that big tip instead of the individual people who perform your treatments each time.

Plus, Natalie says not to worry if you don’t have cash (guilty as charged!), you can run a card for just a tip.

Do you have spa etiquette pet-peeves you would like to share? Do tell by commenting below!