Topic: Spas

5 Tips for a Successful Spa Experience

Published in: Makeup Tips/How To, Spas

The Spa on the Plaza at the Portola Hotel and Spa in Monterey, California

The Spa on the Plaza at the Portola Hotel & Spa in Monterey, California

If I could, I would go to a spa every single day of my life. They’re quiet, they smell good, you get to walk around in a robe and slippers, and somebody takes care of you, instead of the other way around. For a good hour, you don’t have to worry about anything, and sitting around for long blocks of time is considered totally OK. You can just sit there and zone out…

Going to a spa is one of those treats I like to give myself once or twice a year, especially when I travel, and on my trip to Monterey last weekend, I popped on over to the Spa on the Plaza at the Portola Hotel & Spa for a prenatal massage (in a nutshell: it was great!).

Incidentally, when you’re a pregnant lady, the prenatal massage is pretty much your only massage option if you can’t lay flat on your tum, but it works most of the majorly sore spots, like your back, hips and feet.

The spa reception area

The spa reception area

If you go to the Spa on the Plaza, and I hope you do, ask for Ashleigh. She has amazing hands, and she’s super nice. Seriously, her hands were among the best parts of my trip.

Beauty products galore

Beauty products galore!

While I sat in the Relaxation Room (that’s actually what it’s called), I got to thinking about the things that make for a successful spa visit. If you have a spa day in your future, here are some things to think about…

1. Get there early

The relaxation room

The Relaxation Room…

Most spas suggest that you arrive at least 15 minutes before your appointment, but I suggest a full hour or two — maybe even three, depending on the spa’s facilities and how stressed you’re feeling.

Seriously. First of all, you don’t want to be stressed and rushing to make a spa appointment (kind of defeats the purpose, yo!). You want to get there with plenty of time to check in, check out the facilities, and give yourself some time to relax (possibly even take a nap).

Research the spa’s facilities online or by calling them on the phone before you go. That way, you can take advantage of any extra niceties they may have, like steam rooms and pools.

Steam room straight ahead!

Steam room straight ahead!

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For Consideration on Your Beauty Bucket List: The Terranea Resort and Spa in Rancho Palos Verdes, California

Published in: Spas

Terranea Resort & Spa

To borrow a phrase from Liz Lemon, “I want to go to there…”

Words of advice: only get your nails done at the Terranea resort and spa in sunny Rancho Palos Verdes, California if you’re sure you can refrain from making ecstasy faces the entire time.

Terranea Spa Review K bliss


During my mani/pedi yesterday, I felt like my bones were made of soft cheese. I was so relaxed that I could barely hold my head up (I actually did that head tipping thing a few times).

Now that’s relaxed…

The Terranea spa is where you go when you want a beauty experience.

It’s definitely not something I’d do every day (or week or month), or when I just wanted a professional to slap some paint on my paws in an efficient manner.

It’s more of a special occasion thing, because along with the usual spa shaping and polishing, you also get an exfoliating scrub, a brightening mask, a massage and several minutes with your hands and feet hugged in these heavenly heated mitts that I wish I could wear all the time.

All. The. Time.

But my favorite part was the pedicure chair.

OMG! If I were an eccentric heiress (as opposed to just being eccentric), I’d want an entire room of my estate/cat sanctuary dedicated to relaxation, with one of those chairs in the middle and a huge TV, upon which I would watch Bravo while eating veggie pizza. 🙂

Hey, boo, haaay!

The Jacuzzi action on my feet? So good. I could have fallen asleep right there.

The only things keeping me awake were the tickling cheese grater on my heels and Janine, the manicurist who did my nails.

I learned many interesting things from Janine that day. Things like…

  • The best way to finish a good mani/pedi is with a glass of champagne
  • You can often find Zella apparel deeply discounted at Nordstrom Rack stores
  • When you book a spa massage through a hotel, ask the spa receptionist for the best technician on staff (at Terranea, Janine recommends Joseph for massages)
  • If you have dry skin, Spa Technologies Laminaria Oil is the ish!

The fee is $75 for a 45-minute Pacific Breeze mani and $95 for a 60-minute Pacific Breeze Pedi (see the complete price list here).

Yes, that’s high. But wow.


If you book a 60-minute nail treatment (or the mani/pedi combo), you’ll also get all-day access to the spa’s other facilities, which include saunas, an indoor/outdoor lounge with snacks and drinks, a Jacuzzi and a kick-@ss pool with a breathtaking ocean view.

Talk about a recipe for a great day. 🙂

Pool time!

Terranea Spa Review outdoor lounge area with jaccuzzi

The outdoor lounge and Jacuzzi

Terranea Spa Review K bliss

The exterior of the salon

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Makeup and Beauty Blog Monday Poll, Oct. 31

Published in: Just For Fun, Spas

The jack-o-lantern I befriended at Jen’s house last night…

  • You might be wondering, “So what the heck is this Monday Poll thing anyway?”
    Well, it isn’t much of a poll. It’s more just a constantly evolving (devolving?), somewhat random list of questions I’ve been putting out to readers every Monday morning for the past three years, which I guess makes this somewhere around Vol. 192. I’ve always enjoyed reading your answers in the comments, and I hope you enjoy reading mine.
  1. Mood:
  2. Really, really great for a Monday. I feel powered up! — like those few hours I spent relaxing with my girlfriends yesterday recharged my batteries.

  3. Your most memorable Halloween costume?
  4. Well, one year I dressed up as Veruca Salt from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (the one from 1971), complete with paper-mache golden egg and everything. Not surprisingly, acting like a brat wasn’t much of a stretch, LOL!

  5. Who knows you better than anyone else?
  6. It’s a tie between El Hub and my mom…with Tabs coming in a close second.

  7. What’s the first thing you do when you get off work/out of school?
  8. If it’s still light out, Tabs and I will go for a walk. If it’s already dark, though, I’ll usually just start making dinner, or collapse on the couch.

  9. What’s the most awkward movie-watching experience you’ve ever endured with your family?
  10. Top Gun. I remember we rented the tape from the video store to watch at home, and during the lurve scenes my mom would tell my brother and I to “cover your eyes.” 🙂

    HAHA! I was only about eight or nine at the time, but I remember feeling sufficiently mortified.

  11. How many times have you been in love?
  12. Three.

  13. Which game show would you like to be a contestant on?
  14. The Price is Right because I’ve always wanted to play Plinko!

  15. If you have one, can you tell me about your fitness routine?
  16. Mostly running, spiced up with a Jillian Michaels DVD once or twice a week.

  17. Favorite Halloween trick or treat?
  18. Mini Snickers, please!

  19. Weekly goals:
  20. To remember to get up from my chair every so often and take a few walking breaks throughout the day, to get back on my diet again (I fell off the wagon and stress ate BIG TIME last week), to finish reading one book (any book), and to keep a positive attitude.

The past couple of Mondays have been a little challenging for me, what with the trip last weekend and my family visiting, but this week I should be able to get back to my regular routine (I need my routines).

Spending some time with Jen and Cindy yesterday certainly helped. We went to this place called The Spa Los Gatos down in the cute South Bay town of Los Gatos…

It was more like a day spa than a full-service place, so no special facilities or pools, but it was spotless, homey, and the staff made us feel welcome.

I really needed that deep-tissue massage… Jamilla, the spa technician who worked with me, had great energy, and despite being tiny, her hands could WORK! Homegirl was strong. I left with that loosey-goosey feeling, just totally blissed out. If you’re ever in the area, it’s a great place to unwind.

And because good energy is infectious, here are some virtual vibes:

(You have to touch the monitor to accept them… Just for a second.)

There. Transfer complete. 🙂

Before you jet, do you have a minute to say hi in this week’s Monday Poll?

  • To complete the Monday Poll, just copy the following list, and paste it with your answers in the comments.

1. Mood:
2. Your most memorable Halloween costume?
3. Who knows you better than anyone else?
4. What’s the first thing you do when you get off work/out of school?
5. What’s the most awkward movie-watching experience you’ve ever endured with your family?
6. How many times have you been in love?
7. Which game show would you like to be a contestant on?
8. If you have one, can you tell me about your fitness routine?
9. Favorite Halloween trick or treat?
10. Weekly goals:

You have a great All Hallows Eve, alright? Are you getting dressed up tonight?

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



What Does One Wear to a Traditional Korean Spa?

Published in: Guest Post, Spas

Kate and Kim

Friend me on FacebookWritten by Kate

You may not have been planning to visit South Korea this year, but you might want to after reading today’s guest post from Kate.

Seoul, Korea, Central Spa
photo: Seoul, South Korea

Being a flight attendant came with a certain degree of worldliness, whether imagined or real. I prided myself on having a strong sense of adventure that made me, in my own mind, a combination of Ernest Hemmingway lounging in a Cuban cafe and a valkyrie. That is, if Ernest Hemmingway wore heels and served coffee.

This overblown view of my own pioneering attitude did little to prepare me for the realities of a real Korean spa. I am the product of an American culture that is not exactly known for being comfortable with the human body in all its nude abundance. Or, for that matter, the bodies of total strangers. The American in me screams that I come from a land founded by Puritans. The Chinese in me remembers all those movies I have seen with my elderly grandmother where lovemaking consists of the woman laying her head on the man’s chest and sighing. Both are always fully clothed. As these two sides of me rebelled against the idea of being naked in front of a shower room full of other women, I decided to do as the Romans (and Koreans) do…

When another flight attendant suggested a visit to a local Korean spa (also called a jjimjilbang) on a Seoul layover, I eagerly agreed. After all, my only previous experience with a spa involved a gift certificate to the Mandalay Bay Spa in Las Vegas. I imagined the fragrant oils that would soon be mixed with French sea salt, the gentle murmurs of the masseuse as she rubbed the heavenly mixture over my modestly, and strategically, covered body. I would hear Enya playing in the background. After my salt scrub, the masseuse would leave me to emerge at my leisure from my cocoon of comfort. Chamomile tea would be offered to me, and I would accept it dressed in my fluffy white robe of Egyptian cotton. The lounge would be painted in tones of peach and taupe and my only companion would be a man-made waterfall engineered by a savvy interior designer.

While waiting in my hotel lobby for my flying partner, I was reassured by the concierge that the spa we had chosen was top notch (Central Spa) and she herself had had a scrub there the day before. As I set out with visions of pampering dancing in my head, I wondered why we were descending into the bowels of a busy bus station. Tucked in between the turnstiles and a noodle stand was a small, unassuming door. The other flight attendant had been here before and she entered without a backward glance in my direction. As I let the door close behind me, the sounds of the train station were muffled and then quiet.

The Korean woman working at the reception desk was small but looked like she could command a battalion as well as she could command a spa. She unceremoniously handed me a key and two facecloths and pointed at a door to her right. I scampered ahead, carrying my tiny towels and what turned out to be a locker key.

My bravado was wearing thin, especially because my coworker was nowhere in sight. As I turned a corner, I came face to face with my coworker’s breasts. I looked away, embarrassed and horrified at the same time. I only worked with this girl. Was it twisted that she was the only one, besides my husband and my doctor, who was going to see me naked? Could I play this off as not being the huge deal for me that it was? I had come too far to use the old stomachache excuse. Only my stubbornness kept me from running back to my hotel. That, and the fact that I had no idea which direction my hotel was in.

The lockers
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Bay Area Beauty Tip: Free Clarins Facials at Nordstrom

Published in: Beauty Tips, News, Skin Care, Spas

For folks living in or visiting the San Francisco Bay Area, did you know that Clarins, a French skin care line, offers complementary facials at Nordstrom stores?

Since the 50s, French brand Clarins was one of the first lines to forgo using animal ingredients in their products. Their entire line is now 100 percent plant-derived.

I’m new to the line, so the free 40-minute facial held at the Nordstrom Spa in the San Francisco Centre was a great (and relaxing) way to learn about their products.

Yes, girl, the San Francisco Nordstrom has a spa with the usual spa treatment menu of facials, massages and body treatments costing upwards of $80, depending on the service.

But because Clarins’ complimentary facials are held in their spa rooms, they’re kinda like experiencing the spa without having to pay the big bucks. Here’s where my facial took place:


Um, the treatment bed wasn’t messy when I walked in. I actually laid down on it for a short nap before taking this picture (hey, I exercised early and was tired!). The room was a little noisy due to store traffic outside the door, which was only partially drowned out by tunes from the Top 40 radio station piped through overhead speakers. If you’re used to going to spas where they play soft, soothing sounds of chirping crickets or, God forbid, Enya, then you may not like this. But let me remind you again — this facial is gratis.

Despite the background noise, the facial and overall experience was great. Sharon Trajico, a specially trained Clarins facialist, first asked me a ton of questions about my skin and my skin care routine. Based on my answers, she selected a few choice Clarins products to cleanse, treat and protect my skin. I liked that the products weren’t heavily scented; most smelled very light, clean and plant-esque.

Over the course of the treatment Sharon carefully described the products she was using along with each product’s intended use. Clarins facialists apply product with their hands, warming each between their palms first before application, and then lightly massaging and pressing the product into the face and neck. It’s a combo massage-beauty treatment — incredibly relaxing.

Like specialists at European-style day spas, Shannon cleansed and toned my skin, applied a face mask, then finished with a series of anti-aging and skin protection serums and lotions. They skipped the facial steaming (which typically happens before or after the mask) and black head extraction (hate those, ouch!), which was fine with me.

At the end of the facial my skin felt smooth, looked brighter and the red splotches I’d had at the start of the treatment were gone. I loved the scents and textures of Clarins’ face products and can’t wait to try more of the line, which includes body care and makeup.

Clarins complimentary Nordstrom facials are offered once a month. Call your nearby Nordstrom and ask to speak with someone at the Clarins counter. They’ll provide you with dates and schedule a time for you to come in!

San Francisco readers can call…

Nordstrom at San Francisco Centre (near Union Square): (415) 243-8500
Nordstrom at Stonestown Galleria: (415) 753-1344

And if you’re in Marin…

Nordstrom at The Village at Corte Madera: (415) 927-1690

For numbers to other Bay Area Nordstrom stores, perform a search here.

Take note — not all Nordstrom stores have spa rooms like the ones in S.F. do At some of store counters, your facials will be done on the sales floor, but they’ll shield you behind a screen to grant you some privacy.

By the way, in the beauty world, “free” and “complimentary” services are often code for “you should purchase at least one product before you head out,” but I’m sure you won’t be disappointed by the Clarins line. Later today I plan to swing by my local Nordstrom to grab a few of the goodies Sharon introduced me to!


I hope your day has been going well so far! Whatcha up to on this lovely Tuesday?

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,


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