Handsblue.com: June 7, 2005
Abuse Never Felt So Good
Korean Spa’s Strange Mix of Pampering & Pain
Mention the phrase “Korean Spa,” and a strange mixture of pampering and abuse comes to mind. Years ago, my Japanese acupuncturist said, “You have skin like a Japanese woman.” At age 26, that meant smooth, silky skin without much thought.
Flash forward almost three decades later, and soft skin no longer comes naturally. I have to work at it, utilizing beneficial treatments. And for that, I’ve looked to Eastern remedies.
For years, Asian women have known and practiced the art of self-care. What better place to go than to the source? A Korean Spa is similar to a Vietnamese nail salon, but for your entire body. It’s reasonable and fast.
I go once a month. This latest trip took me to the Century Spa in Los Angeles, where I chose the Asian Beauty treatment, one of the many described in their catalogue. Now, Korean Spas are not for the modest, faint of heart, or for those who love a high-end treatment.
First, you are given a robe and locker assignment. Once you’ve completely undressed, you find your way to a large spa area filled with naked women waiting for their chosen therapies. There, you immerse yourself in a jade steam room or sauna to sweat open all of your pores, until your personal attendant comes to get you for your treatment by announcing your locker number.
You are placed on a bed in an open room where there are about eight other beds occupied by women in the buff. The actual therapist’s semi-naked Korean women wear modest black bras and black underpants, outfits that keep them both mobile and cool as they move from bed to bed.
After your skin has been sloughed off, she bathes your body, washes your hair, and then wraps you in a body mask for about 10 minutes. She then bathes you again. (Be warned: when they slough off the dead skin, it peels off in little brown, rubbery sheets. It’s amazing how much dead matter comes off your body!)
Then the fun begins. As you are slathered in baby oil, you begin to feel like a giant piece of meat, pummeled and tenderized with a shiatsu massage, which focuses on pressure points and deep rubbing. Depending upon the spa, you may also have someone walk on your back.
Back side done, you are then flipped tummy-up for a facial mask either a soy and rice paper base or the more traditional fresh cucumber mask.
I took my daughter for her first Korean Spa adventure and she wasn’t too impressed with the no-frills old-school treatment.
What keeps me coming back? My skin is softer; the pummeling, manipulating and sweating is good for my lymph system and overall health. (The attendants massage the breast and stomach area, which promotes optimum lymphatic drainage.)
A Korean Spa is fast, open from morning until late at night, and it’s affordable. It’s a spa treatment that I can easily fit into my busy schedule and afford on a monthly basis.
It may not be Beverly Hills, but you still get a good spa treatment, pop in at your own timing, and pay a third of the price.
Sally Kravich, a renowned nutritionist on both coasts, counts among her clients numerous celebrities. She covers a full health regimen, which includes diet, vitamins, and lifestyle/fitness/wellness suggestions.