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June 06, 2008

Allergic Girl's Spa-Goer Tips

Sephora Perfume
They're not allergic now...
AP Photo

by Sloane Miller

I love spa treatments as much as the next chica, but I don't love feeling itchy, sneezy, or wheezy during (or after) them, when I'm supposed to be in a supreme state of relaxation. Here are some steps this Allergic Girl follows when heading to the spa.

1. Call ahead. If you have allergies to foods, perfumes, lotions--anything, really--call ahead before making that spa appointment and speak to management. Tell them your allergies, your needs, and ask what kinds of products they use. If they give you a hard time, go somewhere else: It's your treatment, not theirs.

2. Become a label sleuth. Before going into that little room, ask to see the spa's product line. Read the labels. Once in the room, ask your aesthetician to show you her bottles of the goop. My lovely waxer at Bliss Spa knows the whole drill. (Her child has allergies too, so she gets it.) If there's something you can't use or are allergic to, speak up! This is your treatment, not theirs. (Sensing a theme here?)

3. BYO. If your allergies are severe and plentiful, bring your own lotions, creams, oils, nail polish--whatever you need to in order to ensure that you will have a relaxing, allergy-free experience. I did this recently in Bermuda at the Mandarin Oriental's Spa at Elbow Beach, where they were happy to use my small bottles of fragrance-free oil and lotion.

4. Even the nonallergic can get allergic. At the wonderful Standard Hotel in South Beach, my friend was offered a free herbal bath. She become a human teapot, soaking in a tub of hot water as staff members added a human-size tea bag full of herbal goodies and then let her steep. About five minutes into the bath, my friend started to turn pink. She thought maybe the water was too warm. Later, she had wine with dinner and that's what did it: herbs + liquor = red, blotchy, and itchy all-over allergic reactions. We alerted the staff, who exclaimed, "This never happens!" But, dear ones, it does. Just because you aren't an allergic girl doesn't mean you can't get allergic.

Sloane Miller is a guest blogger for the Daily Traveler. For more tips from this Allergic Girl, contact her directly through her own blog.


Ahh, but how does Allergic Girl navigate past the scented candles and fragrance oil diffusers that all spas seem to think are required in the lobby and all public areas? One local day spa has me call ahead and lets me in the back door to avoid the scents in the lobby, but that's expecting a little much when traveling!

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