Spa Agony Aunt

The SPA Traveller Agony Aunt Sarah Endacott of Calcot Spa advises on the best Father's Day Treatments, skin pigmentation and post baby spa treatments to boost your energy levels…



Sarah Endacott of Calcot Spa in The Cotswolds


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Q I would like to book a special treat for my dad on Father’s Day but he has never been to a spa before. What treatments would you recommend and how could I help him feel comfortable at a spa?
A We have specific treatments designed with men in mind, such as the Gents de-stress massage, concentrating on the back, neck and shoulders and back of legs, we also have the gents facial which includes a back massage, scalp massage and hand or foot massage as well as a facial which means chaps get to experience a more general treatment.
There are also treatments available where your father does not even have to get undressed, reflexology and reiki are both non-invasive treatments and popular for first time spa goers. I am sure your father will be hooked after his first visit with you!

Q I have skin pigmentation and a scar around my face which is only visible when I’ve got a little colour from the sun. The pigmentaion is brown marks on my neck areas and forehead what can I do to reduce this?
A There are many creams and serums on the market that can help to reduce the appearance of pigmentation, however these must be used according to product house directions and followed very rigorously. There are also laser options which can again reduce the appearance of both scar tissue and pigmentation, however once this damage has occurred you must be very careful whilst in the sun to stop any further damage.
The causes can come from sun exposure and also pregnancy and comes from the melanin produced by your skin. I had really bad pigmentation around both eyes when I was pregnant, it almost looked like I was wearing glasses, however my skin returned to normal soon after giving birth and I used nothing on my skin, Sun damage is permanent damage and therefore will always need either product, chemical peel or laser treatment to aid reduction.

Q I have just had a baby and wondered what the best spa treatment would be for me to do?

A Some treatments are not suitable if you are breast feeding or had a Caesarean. Essential oils cannot be used if breastfeeding and some treatments during which you lay on your front may be uncomfortable too soon after a C-section. Each spa will advise you and probably be able to let you know the most popular for new mums, at Calcot facials, scalp massages, hand and foot treatments seem to be very popular.


Q I am feeling quite lethargic and wondered what type of massage would give me a much-needed energy boost?

A Any kind of revitalising, deep tissue or aromatherapy massage using uplifting oils such as citrus oils - which are also good for detoxing. It is good to include the stomach in a massage at this time of year to aid sluggish digestion (brought on through over indulgence) this will leave you feeling uplifted and revitalised rather than spaced out and feeling sleepy.

Q I am six months pregnant and have been invited on a spa weekend as my best friend is getting married. What treatments would you recommend and is it safe to have a massage using essential oils?

A We do not recommend the use of essential oils in pregnancy other than rose and lavender. Essential oils have so many different properties and can aid lots of ailments. However, in pregnancy they can obviously have an effect on the baby too which is not good.

At Calot and Barnsley we use a rose oil which has a base of jojoba oil which is really nourishing and aids the prevention of stretch marks in our maternity massage. These are suitable for anyone over 12 weeks up until giving birth, they aid relaxation and by using maternity pillows we can get our clients really comfortable (something which is rare in the later stages of pregnancy!)

We also have many other treatments available throughout pregnancy, all of our facials are suitable , manicures, pedicures, scalp massages, body polishes ( a full body exfoliation) so there is plenty to choose from. The spas you are going to visit should always advise you on treatment choices in pregnancy and a consultation with your therapist will ensure you have made the correct choice.

Q I always feel a little confused when I go to a spa as I don't know whether to use the facilities such as the Jacuzzi, steam room, sauna and experience showers before or after my treatment?

A We always advise use before a treatment (other than some restrictions on heat facilities with some of our electrical facials) as this means you come to your treatment relaxed and that you are able to leave the treatment and keep the products on your skin afterwards.

However, it is really a personal choice, the facilities are available to guests throughout their spa session and can be used when required, we do however ask that all products are showered off if wanting to use the pool or hot tub after a treatment as oils and creams are not good for our pool systems.

Q: I am peri-menopausal and have suddenly developed acne/roseacea on my face. What is the best facial for this condition and what skincare regime should I follow at home as it tends to get worse in the colder weather?

A: This condition is very common during hormonal changes, for example, pregnancy, menopause, teenage hormones. This condition can seem worse in the cold as your skin will be dehydrated. Any calming products and hydrating products will deeply benefit this condition. We recommend our Aromatherapy Associates rose facial at Calcot. There are many options available out there to treat you, from laser treatment to antibiotic creams, depending on the severity.

Q: We are planning an Autumn break to a spa resort which offers thalassotherapy. Please could you tell me more about this water treatment which also includes one magnesium pool. Is this safe to use and why is it good for your skin?

A: Thalasotherapy is basically using seawater to treat you so it could be a natural mineral bath or an algae wrap. Magnesium pools are safe to use, this offers an alternative to chlorinated pools so you are not having the drying effects or sometimes the negative respiratory affects that chlorine has.

Q: My daughter wants to start coming to my spa with me for treatments but she is only 14 and I think it is too young. What age would you recommend and what are the best treatments to start with?

A: We offer treatment to girls from the age of 14. It is important to get into a good skincare routine from an early age, like all of us, your daughter will find her "favourite" treatment. It is lovely to try and experiment and find your passion, likewise she will find her favourite products too. It is a great start for her… lucky girl!!


Q.   I am treating my mum to a spa day for Mother's Day but this is her first visit to a spa and she is a bit nervous. What are the best treatments to choose for a 60-year-old first-timer as I would like her to relax and make spa days a regular event?

A.  I would say for any client it is not about age as it just depends on which area of their body each client most likes to have treated. As it is her first visit, a manicure, pedicure or facial may be a good choice as these are fairly non-invasive treatments. Body wraps and massage involve a little more exposure so great if she wants to try something different during her next visit!


Q.  I am booked into to have a body wrap but fear my body could over-heat. What are the signs to look for if I get too hot and what should the therapist do?

A.  Your therapist should not leave you during your body wrap therefore you should not over-heat. Your therapist will monitor you throughout your treatment. Over-heating would only occur if the treatment has been carried out incorrectly or if you have contra-indications to the treatment (such as fever, certain medication etc). As a thorough health questionnaire is filled in before the wrap starts then again this reaction should not occur.


Q.  As spring is approaching I would like my skin to look and feel better but lately I have been getting an outbreak of spots on my face. What is the best sort of facial to have for blemishes after the ravages of winter? And what sort of moisturiser should I be using?

A.  The best advice I can give you is to pop in for a skin analysis before booking your facial, this way we can advise you exactly which facial to go for. At this time of year a deep, exfoliating facial is great, removing the build up of dead skin cells. The type of moisturiser you use again depends upon your skin type, after having a facial we give all clients a "prescription" card advising on which products they should be using at home to continue to care for their skin.


Q.  I am tempted to book a hot stone massage but don't know much about it. I wonder if you could tell me a little bit more about this type of massage and how the hot stones are used during the treatment?

A.  There are many variations of hot stone massage. At Calcot we have devised our own routine which includes using traditional massage techniques. Using only our hands at times, we incorporate the hot stones after having warmed up the body, we massage one side of the body at a time, starting from the feet up to the shoulders and provide disposable underwear so we can glide over the body. When we use the hot stones we apply oil to them and by holding them in our hands we use them to glide all over the body. We can also work deeply into specific areas to work out and tension and different sized stones for different parts of the body. We also do hot stone placement during the treatment, placing hot stones on chakras and any areas that will benefit from extra heat. This massage is deeply relaxing and a must try if you love massage.


Q.  As winter seems to have come early in the UK my skin is already suffering with the extreme change in climate. It feels really dry and rough and I wondered what the best facial is to combat these problems?

A.  Any facial including deep exfoliation and massage. Exfoliation is an essential part of your skin care routine and we recommend that you exfoliate one or two times per week. Many people do not include this in their skin care routine. When exfoliating you are removing the dead skin cells from the surface of your skin and this reveals your fresh skin underneath and you will see immediately that your skin looks fresher and you have more of a glow. By exfoliating you also allow your moisturiser to work on the newer skin instead of simply soaking into the dead skin cells. The massage included in a facial will stimulate the blood flow to your skin, remove waste product by using draining movements and penetrate the product deep down through all layers of your skin. It’s essential that you’re using the correct moisturiser for your skin type. You’re skin changes with the seasons - at this time of year we find people tend to have quite dehydrated skin due to the weather and central heating.


Q.  My local spa has just opened a hammam. I am tempted to try it out but don't really know what type of treatment this is and what health benefits it offers?

A.  A Hammam treatment varies depending on where you have it done! in Turkey it can be quite a harsh treatment and involves being scrubbed quite vigorously and having a very deep massage afterwards. I personally experienced a hammam in Morocco a few years ago, it was in a large room with other clients there, I would not describe it as relaxing but I certainly felt very clean and like I'd had a thorough massage. In the UK we do things slightly differently. The experience is much more gentle and relaxing, you will be scrubbed on a heated plinth and showered off there, so no need to get up into a shower. The massage will also take place on the plinth, your massage should be adapted to your needs. This is an interesting and a different experience. I would say to try it if you love massage and feel in need of an all over body exfoliation- perfect for this time of year!

Q.  I have heard a lot about a vichy shower but please could you explain what this is and what benefits it has?

A.  Vichy showers originated in France. In most European countries hydrotherapy has always been very popular for hundreds of years. Vichy showers are suspended above the client whilst they lie on a massage couch which has a drainage system.

If the shower is used on its own it helps with circulation, eliminating waste products, skin tone and skin elasticity. In areas where the water has a high content of minerals then, of course, you get the extra benefit of this too.

In many spas the vichy shower is used in conjunction with other treatments, such as body exfoliations and body wraps, it means that clients do not have to get up and shower the products off themselves.


Q.   I am pregnant and have heard that watsu is a good treatment - would you recommend it?

A.   Watsu literally translates into water massage and has become very popular with people from all walks of life. It is particularly beneficial for anyone with medical conditions such as cerebral palsy and general injuries and great for pregnant ladies.

As you are weightless in the water this means there is no pressure anywhere in your body - all ligaments, joints and muscles are completely relaxed. Pregnant ladies are finding this even more beneficial as it takes the weight off tired and swollen ankles, eases back ache and generally makes you feel like your pre-pregnant self once again!

Once in the water your therapist will stretch and manipulate your body. The advantage of being in the water is that you are often able to stretch much more than you would be when out of the water.


Q.  I recently had a massage and was first rubbed down with sea salt but I am a bit worried the sharp edges of the salt could have damaged my skin. Is it kinder on the skin to ask a therapist to use an exfoliant with rounded edges?

A. There are many different kinds of body exfoliants. Traditionally coarse sea salts were used and do act as a super exfoliant on the skin.

I would be wary of using this coarse salt on clients with more mature, fragile skin, sensitive skins also on any areas where there are broken or varicose veins. You can still achieve the same effect with a gentle exfoliant.

We use Aromatherapy Associates at Calcot Spa which has more natural exfoliating grains which are crushed olive pits and are very fine. They still remove dead skin cells as efficiently as using a coarser product.

Exfoliants tend to be a personal preference, if you have any concerns regarding a product or treatment your therapist should be able to offer you an alternative.


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Spa Agony Aunt - 2010 Q+A's

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