A-Z of spa treatments

Before booking your next treatment, check out our guide below to ensure your next massage is right for you

Search A-Z of spa treatments

Abyhanga

Gentle, rhythmic ayurvedic massage in which therapists work warm oil into the body to help enhance the immune system and encourage the removal of toxins.

Acupressure

Application of fingertip [and sometimes palm, elbow, knee and foot]pressure on the body’s acupoints to improve the flow of qi throughout the body, release muscle tension and promote healing.

Acupunture

Ancient Chinese healing technique in which fine needles are inserted into acupoints along the body’s meridians to maintain health and correct any imbalance that causes illness.

Affusion shower massage

Massage given under a relaxing, rain-like, warm shower of water or seawater. Increases blood circulation.

After-sun treatment

Treatment that soothes skin that has been over-exposed to the sun, and cools the over-heated body. May include a cooling bath and a gentle massage with a lotion of soothing ingredients such as cucumber and aloe vera.

Algotherapy

Use of algae in treatments such as baths, scrubs, wraps and skin case.

Anti-cellulite treatment

Treatment that contours the body and reduces cellulite at various parts of the body.

Anti-stress massage

Typically a 30-minute introductory massage, or one for those with limited time and who suffer from high levels of stress. Focuses on tension areas such as the back, face, neck and shoulders.

Aromatherapy massage

Massage in which essential oils – either pre-blended or specially mixed for your needs – are applied to the body, typically with Swedish massage techniques.

Ayurveda

An ancient Indian holistic medical system involving diet, yoga, massage and herbal remedies based on five elements – earth, water, fire, air and space, stressing balance through your dosha.

Ayurvedic massage

Massage performed by one or more therapists directly on the skin to loosen the excess doshas. Promotes circulation, increases flexibility, and relieves pain and stiffness. Applied with herbal oil.

Ayurvedic Shirodhara

Includes the steady streaming of warm, fragrant oil onto the forehead (‘third eye’), followed by a scalp massage and depending on the treatment, another body massage.

Baby massage

Infant massage that focuses on the special needs of newborns. Massage is used to relax, improve circulation and relieve common infant ailments. It also nurtures bonding between infant and parent when performed by the latter.

Back treatment

Deep cleansing skin treatment for the back, neck and shoulders that removes impurities and excess oils, eases tension, and leaves the skin soft and smooth. Also known as clarifying back treatment or purifying back treatment.

Balinese boreh

Traditional warming Balinese mask made from herbs and spices which improve circulation and skin suppleness. The past is lightly applied to the body, which is then wrapped in a blanket. The spices produce a sensation of deep heat.

Balinese coffee scrub

Exfoliating scrub in which finely ground Balinese coffee beans are applied to the skin.

Balinese massage

Relaxing traditional massage of Bali that uses rolling, long strokes, and finger and palm pressure. Applied with oil.

Balneotherapy

Water treatments that use hot springs, mineral water or seawater to improve circulation, restore and revitalize the body, and relieve pain and stress. Also an invigorating, re-mineralizing treatment for muscles that uses water jets and a localized massage in a tub with a special hose administered by a therapist.

Beauty treatment

Treatment provided by spas to enhance beauty and overall well-being. Includes facial treatments, makeovers, manicures, pedicures and waxing.

Body bronzing

Tanning treatment without the sun. May begin with a scrub to smooth the skin, which allows for an even tan.

Body mask

Regenerating treatment in which the body is slathered with clay. The minerals in the clay – which may be mixed with essential oils – detoxify and hydrate the skin, leaving it refreshed and radiant.

Body scrub

Exfoliating body treatment, using products such as salt or herbs, that removes dry, dead skin cells and improves blood circulation. Softens the skin and gives it a healthier glow. Often used for preparing the skin to receive the benefits of massages and wraps. Also known as body polish.

Body treatment

General term that denotes treatments for the body.

Body wrap

Treatment in which the body is wrapped in linen soaked in a herbal solution for about 20 minutes, and sometimes kept under a heated blanket. May be preceded by an application of fruit, herbs, mud or seaweed, and accompanied by a face, head and scalp massage. Detoxifies the system, soothes tired muscles and hydrates the skin.

Bodywork

Therapeutic touching or manipulation of the body that uses massage or exercise to relax, ease tension and pain, and treat illnesses. May involve lessons in proper posture or movement. Some modes may treat both the body and mind.

Bust treatment

Treatment to firm and tone the bust and décolleté.

Chair massage

Massage performed while seated on a specially designed massage chair. The chair is portable so the massage can be performed almost anywhere. The massage typically concentrates on the back, neck, scalp and shoulders.

Champissage

Head massage developed by blind Indian therapist Nehendra Mehta, who popularized his technique in London during the 1980s.

Chi nei tsang

Internal organ massage that focuses on the abdominal area where stress, tension and negative emotions accumulate. Relieves illness, and releases negative emotions and tensions, bringing relief to the abdomen and vital energy to the internal organs. Eliminates toxins in the gastrointestinal tract, promotes lymphatic drainage and treats digesting problems such as irritable bowel syndrome, bloating a

Chromatherapy

Coloured light therapy, taken from the Greek work khroma, meaning light.

Colour therapy

Use of colour to bring about balance. Colour therapy can be administered using light, water, crystals, visualization, and food. It is believed that different colours vibrate at different rates, and each colour emits its own subtle energy. The body can be treated with the associated stones placed on the relevant chakra point.

Complementary therapy

Health care system not traditionally utilized by conventional Western medical practitioners, and which may complement orthodox treatments. Also known as alternative therapy.

Cranial-sacral therapy

A gentle touch therapy that evaluates and enhances the cranio-sacral system [comprising the membranes and fluid that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord]to restore balance, ease stress and enhance the body’s self-healing process. The technique was developed in the mid-1970s by osteopathic physician John E Upledger.

Crystal and gem therapy

A form of healing through the use of crystals and gemstones, which are believed to be able to transmit and receive energy, to modify thoughts, emotions and energy fields, thereby serving to restore balance in the body and amplify innate healing ability. Often performed with reiki and colour therapy. Most commonly used gems include gold, diamond, emerald, ruby and sapphire.

Cupping

Treatment where small glass cups are attached to the skin by a vacuum that is created by placing a lit match inside each cup to burn the oxygen. The suction increases the circulation of the body’s vital energy and blood.

Deep Sea mud treatment

Application of mineral-rich mud from the Dead Sea. Detoxifies the skin and body, improves cell metabolism and relieves rheumatic and arthritic pain.

Deep tissue massage

Firm and deep massage using specific techniques to release tensions, blockages and knots that have built up over time. Believed to release emotional tension. May be adapted to a specific area of tension.

Dry floatation bed

The floatation bed allows the body to fall into a deeper state of relaxation allowing the body to recover from stress. Pain is relieved. Blood flow is stimulated through all the tissues, natural endorphins are released, the brain gives out alpha waves associated with relaxation and meditation. It takes approximately 15 minutes to enter the first stage of deep relaxation, and the remaining 45 mi

Endermologie

Massage therapy using the Cellu M6 machine to reduce the appearance of cellulite and refine the figure.

Equilibropathy

Treatment that encourages the body to function properly by relaxing tense muscle groups in order to regulate the body’s systems and ensure they work together harmoniously. It begins with an examination of the spinal column and associated muscle groups to determine the cause of health problems and reveal asymptomatic illnesses. A modified acupuncture technique is then used to help release tense a

Eye treatment

Treatment that focuses on the delicate eye area, generally to combat signs of premature ageing, relieve tired eyes, and reduce puffiness and dryness.

Eyebrow shaping

Grooming the eyebrows, typically by tweezing to suit the facial features.

Facial

Treatment that cleanses and improves the complexion of the face using products that best suit a specific skin type. May include gentle exfoliation, steaming to open pores for extractions, application of a facial mask and moisturizer, and a facial massage. Types of facials include aromatic, oxygenating, whitening and deep cleansing facials.

Facial mask

Cleansing facial treatment where products are applied on the face and left on for a period of time to cleanse pores and slough off dead skin.

Facial scrub

Exfoliating face treatment that uses products with abrasive ingredients to remove dry, dead skin cells and improve blood circulation. Softens the skin and gives it a healthier glow.

Fitness facial for men

Facial that addresses men’s specific skin types and needs, including shaving rash. May include a face, neck and shoulder massage.

Flotation therapy

Treatment where you float on salt and mineral water at body temperature in an enclosed flotation tank [also known as an isolation tank]. The feeling of weightlessness, and the isolation from external sensations and stimuli provide a deep feeling of relaxation and sensory awareness. May be done in complete silence and darkness, or with music and videos. A two-hour treatment is said to be the equiva

Four-handed massage

Massage performed in complete tandem by two therapists. Often uses a blend of massage techniques.

G5 vibro massage

Deep vibrating massage using a G5 machine that relaxes, stimulates circulation and breaks down fatty deposits.

Glycolic facial

Facial treatment using alternating hot and cold 23-karat gold-plated spoons to open and close the pores. Stimulates circulation and helps the skin absorb creams and lotions.

Gommage

Massage-like treatment using creams to cleanse and moisturize.

Herbal compress treatment

Treatment where a heater muslin or cotton parcel of herbs and spices are placed on various parts of the body to relieve sore muscles, boast circulation and refresh the skin. The herbal packs are also used in place of hands to massage the body. Also known as herbal heat revival.

Herbal wrap

Therapeutic use of herbs in treatments and diets.

Hydromassage

Underwater massage in a hydrobath equipped with high-pressure jets and hand-manipulated hoses to stimulate the blood and lymphatic circulations.

Hydrotherapy

Therapeutic use of water which includes baths, steam baths, steam inhalation, In – and under-water massage, soaking in hot springs, and the use of hot, cold or alternating shower sprays.

Indonesian massage

The traditional massage of Indonesia that uses deep pressure and specially blended massage oils to ease tension and improve circulation.

Javanese lulur

Traditional fragrant scrub originating from the royal palaces of Java A blend of powdered spices, including turmeric and sandalwood, is rubbed on to the body. After the vibrantly coloured paste dries, it is removed with a gentle massage. The skin is then moisturized with yogurt. The lulur is often used to clean and pamper the bride during the week leading up to her wedding.

Jet-lag treatment

Treatment that specifically eases travel-associated aches, pains and stiffness, and helps the body to adjust to the new time zone.

Kinesiology

Use of fingertip pressure to locate weakness in specific muscles and diagnose a problem or asymptomatic illnesses. The fingertips are used to massage the appropriate points to disperse toxins and revitalize the flow of energy.

Kur

Course of daily treatments using natural resources, such as algae and thermal mineral water, used to re-mineralize and balance the body.

Light therapy

Use of natural or artificial light to heal see chromatherapy and colour therapy.

Lomi Lomi

Massage originating in Hawaii that uses the forearms and elbows, rhythmical rocking movements, and long and broad strokes over the body.

Lymphatic drainage massage

Massage that uses a gentle pumping technique to stimulate lymphatic circulation, and thus reduce water retention and remove toxins. Lymph drainage can be achieved through manual massage or hydromassage. May be performed on the face and neck, or on the body.

Lymphobiology

Treatment that combines a massage with an application of biological products to improve the skin’s condition. Provides a radiant glow, reduces cellulite, restores hydration, controls acne, balances oily or dry skin, minimizes lines and wrinkles, and corrects post-surgical bruising and swelling.

Malay massage

Traditional massage that uses pressure and long, kneading strokes. May be applied with herbal oil.

Manicure

Treatment that beautifies the hands and nails. Hands are initially soaked and exfoliated with a scrub to remove dead skin cells, cuticles are groomed, and nails are trimmed and shaped. Nails may be buffed to a shine or coated with a polish. May include a hand massage.

Manuluve

Hand and arm treatment comprising a scrub and heated seaweed massage.

Marine aerosol treatment

Inhalation of ionic seawater mist to cleanse the respiratory system. Alleviates breathing problems caused by asthma or smoking.

Marma point massage

Ayuredic massage in which the marma points are massaged with the thumb or index fingers in clockwise circles. Focuses on the face, neck, scalp and shoulders.

Microdermabrasion

Clinical skin-resurfacing procedure where a jet of fine crystals is vacuumed across the surface of the face to remove the topmost layer of skin.

Moxibustion

Burning of the dried herb moxa around the acupoints to relieve pain. Cones of moxa are applied either directly onto the skin, or indirectly with an insulating layer of other herbs.

Myofacial release

Use of the fingers, palms, forearms and elbows in long, deliberate, gliding strokes to stretch and mobilize the fascia[connective tissue that surrounds and supports the muscles, organs and bones]to provide long-term relief of pain and promote well-being.

Nail art

Beautification of the nails with patterns, paintings or other decorative motifs.

Panchakarma

Ayuredic therapy [vamana, virechana, vasti, nasya and raktamakshana] that helps rid the body of its toxins.

Paraffin treatment

Application of warm paraffin wax on the hands and feet to the skin to absorb toxins. Leaves the skin silky soft.

Pedicure

Treatment that beautifies the feet and nails. Feet are soaked and exfoliated with a scrub to remove dead skin cells, cuticles are groomed, and nails are trimmed and shaped. Nails may be buffed to a shine or coated with a polish. May include a foot and calf massage.

Pediluve

Treatment in which feet and legs are dipped in alternate tubs of bubbling jets of warm and cold seawater to improve blood circulation.

Pelotherapy

The use of mud in packs, wraps or baths for the medicinal treatment of rheumatic, skin and digestive ailments.

Pizhichil

Ayurevedic massage in which lukewarm herbal oils are gently and rhythmically applied to the body by two to four therapists.

Pregnancy massage

Pre-natal massage that deals with the special needs of a mother-to-be, and anti-natal massages that deal with her needs after she has delivered. Some spas have massage tables with a hole in the centre to accommodate a pregnant woman.

Pressotherapy

Computerized pressure massage that uses a specially designed airbag that compresses and deflates to improve the circulation throughout the feet and legs.

Purvakarma

Two Ayuredic treatments [snehana and svedana]that soften and cleanse the skin in preparation for panchakarma.

Raktamokshana

Blood purification treatment for illnesses such as skin problems using surgical instruments or leeches. One of the five purification techniques in panchakarma.

Reflexology

Application of finger-point pressure to reflex zones on the feet – and to a lesser extent, hands – to improve circulation, ease pain, relax the body and re-establish the flow of energy through the body. Its underlying theory is that specific areas on the feet and hands correspond with specific body parts, organs and glands, and that the manipulation of specific areas can bring about change ass

Reiki

Healing technique based on ancient Tibetan teachings. The practitioner places his palms over or on various areas of the body for a few minutes each to energize and balance the body, mind and spirit. Helps treat physical problems, heat emotional stresses and encourage personal transformation.

Salt scrub

Exfoliating treatment where the body is rubbed with a mixture of coarse salt and essential oils to remove dry, dead skin cells and stimulate circulation.

Shiatsu

Massage that uses finger pressure – and also hands, forearms, elbows, knees and feet – on acupoints. Calms and relaxes.

Shirodhara

Ayurvedic massage in which warmed medicated oil steadily drips on the forehead, or the third eye. Relieves mental tension and clams the mind.

Shirovasthi

Ayurvedic treatment in which warm herbal medicated oil is massaged on to the head after which a closely fitted cap is worn for a while to retain the therapeutic benefits of the oil.

Signature treatment

Treatment specially created by a spa or spa group, often using indigenous ingredients.

Sports massage

Deep tissue massage directed at muscles used in athletic activities to help the body achieve its maximum physical efficiency. Before physical exertion, it buffers against pain and injury; after, it helps remove lactic acid and restore muscle tone and range of movement.

Steaming

Use of hot steam – often infused with essential oils or herbs – to relax the body, soften the skin, and open up the pores to prepare the face or body for treatment. Hair may also be steamed by wrapping it in a hot towel or exposing it to steam.

Stone therapy

Massage where hot, warm or cold smooth stones are rubbed in long, flowing strokes on to the oiled body, then placed on energy points to ease away tension. Also known as hot stone massage or la stone® therapy.

Swedish massage

Massage in which oils are applied to the body with techniques such as gliding, kneading, rubbing, tapping and shaking. Relieves stress, tension and muscle pain; improves circulation; increases flexibility; and induces relaxation.

Thai herbal massage

Massage using a warmed pouch of steamed Thai herbs pressed against the body’s meridians.

Thai massage

Traditional massage of Thailand, influenced by Chinese and Indian healing arts, that involves a combination of stretching and gentle rocking, and uses a range of motions and acupressure techniques. The massage is oil-free, and performed on a traditional Thai mattress on the floor. Loose clothing is worn.

Thalassotherapy

Treatments that harness mineral – and vitamin–rich seawater and seaweed for curative and preventive purposes. True thalassotherapy centres are located no more than 800 metres [2,625 feet] from the shore, and constantly pump fresh seawater filtered through large canals for use in the treatments.

Treatments for couples

Typically treatments that a couple can enjoy together with a therapist pampering each person. Treatments specially designed for couples usually use an aphrodisiac blend of essential oils.

Vietnamese massage

Invigorating massage that uses a combination of deep strokes and percussive movements. Benefits include stimulating the blood and lymphatic circulation, improving the skin texture and tone, and warming muscle tissue.

Watsu

Often described as Shiatsu in water, Watsu is a therapy where you float in a swimming pool of warm water (around 35degC). Supported by a therapist who manipulates your body with a deeply relaxing combination of water-based exercises, flotation, stretches, rhythmic movements and pressure point massage to bring deep relaxation.

Waxing

Temporary hair removal method. Warm or cool wax, usually honeycomb blended with oils, is applied on to areas of unwanted hair. A cloth is smoothed on to the area and quickly whisked off, pulling the hair off with the wax.

Whitening treatment

Treatment that brightens the skin, restores lost radiance and tones pigmentation marks.