GLOSSARY

Our handbook of terms for the most common language and terminology of the Day Spa and Medical Esthetics Spa industry, based on research by SpaFinder and SPALaDonna.

Terms and Definitions

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Product or treatment that combats or defends against the aging process.
Treatments such as massage, facials, body wraps, or hydrobaths that include the application of fragrant essential oils. Different oils are used for different therapeutic benefits.
Treatment in which strips of cloth are soaked in herbal teas and cocooned around the body.
Plant part or extract used in hair or skin products.
A drug prepared from the bacterial toxin botulin, used medically to treat certain muscular conditions and cosmetically to remove wrinkles by temporarily paralyzing facial muscles.
A body treatment technique used to improve and smooth the texture of the skin, often facial skin, using a chemical solution that causes the dead skin to slough off and eventually peel off. The regenerated skin is usually smoother and less wrinkled than the old skin.
Injection of collagen beneath the skin with a fine needle to fill out wrinkles and lines.
Topical cosmetic-pharmaceutical combinations intended to improve health and appearance of skin. Not recognized or subject to review by the US Food and Drug Administration.
Establishment that provides beautifying, relaxing, or pampering experiences that can last an hour or may take a whole day. Can be freestanding or connected to health clubs, hotels, or department stores.
Massage method focusing on aligning the deep layers of muscles and connective tissue (called fascia) through kneading and applying slow, intense pressure. Benefits include improved range of motion and posture, and stress and pain relief.
General term used to describe a variety of treatments intended to cleanse the body of poisons or toxins. .
A method of lasting hair removal that involves the use of electricity or radio wave energy to damage hair follicles. This method can sometimes require some form of pain relief.
Aromatic liquids extracted from flowers, grasses, fruits, leaves, roots, or trees. The oils maintain the odors and tastes, and thus the essence, of the plant they are extracted from.
Treatment that begins with deep cleansing, steam, exfoliation, and professional massage of the face, shoulders, and chest area, followed by special mask that hydrates the skin.
Procedure to slough top layer of dead skin cells off the face or body. Dry brush, loofah scrub, and salt glow are among the techniques used in conjunction with ingredients including grape seed, sugar, clay, and salt.
Generic term for treatment of skin in the face that usually includes massaging, cleansing, toning, steaming, exfoliating, and moisturizing.
(fung SHWAY) Chinese art of arranging buildings, objects, and furniture in optimal positions for achieving a harmonic flow of energy between a place and its inhabitants. Believed to influence health, happiness, wealth, and relationships.
Treatment using strips of cloth soaked in a heated herbal solution to wrap around the body. It is used for relaxation and said to eliminate impurities and detoxify.
Treatment in which smooth heated stones are placed on or used to stroke areas of the body, such as the back, palms, and between the toes. This type of massage is intended to relax tight muscles.
General term for therapeutic procedures that use water for a variety of purposes, from relaxation to disease treatment. Methods can include Kneipp baths, underwater jet massage, specialized or experience showers, mineral baths, thalassotherapy, and more.
Cosmetic products alleged by manufacturer to create fewer allergic reactions among those who are sensitive. However, no federal standards govern the use of this term.
General term for fillers consisting of collagen, biologic acids, or synthetic compounds that are injected under the skin to eliminate small wrinkles and plump facial and bodily contours. Results are temporary.
International Spa Association, a professional organization representing all aspects of the spa industry: club spas, cruise ship spas, day spas, destination spas, resort/hotel spas, medical spas, and mineral springs spas.
Use of concentrated beams of light to permanently remove unwanted hair. Best candidates for the procedure have very fair skin and very dark hair.
Art or teaching of techniques for using cosmetics appropriate to an individual's skin type, style, and age.
Manipulation of tissues, usually manually, to improve health and well-being by relaxing muscles, relieving tension, and improving circulation.
Any facility, usually a day spa, that offers both medical treatments and spa therapies.
Destination or day spa that offers traditional and complementary medical services supervised or administered by medical professionals. A spa may specialize in diagnostic testing, preventive care, cosmetic procedures, or a combination.
Practice of using mental skills to perform such feats as focusing attention on a single object for a long period of time; cultivating compassion, which involves the transforming of negative events; and creating a state of pure awareness of thoughts, emotions, and sensations without reacting. Meditation is said to increase emotional well-being and is being studied for alleged benefits to physical health.


Rate at which a body burns up fuel and transforms it into energy.
Facial exfoliation procedure in which the top layer of skin is abraded away with ultrafine crystals of aluminum oxide or other ingredients. Microdermabrasion improves and smoothes the skin's surface and can minimize imperfections like blemishes, fine lines, and signs of sun damage.
Food produced with the exclusive use of feed or fertilizer of plant or animal origin and without the use of chemicals in any fashion, including growth hormones, pesticides, fertilizers.
Treatment that involves oxygen and other nutrients being applied or sprayed onto the face. Said to reduce the signs of aging.
Heated paraffin wax is brushed over the body to soothe muscles and, by drawing out the dirt, removing the dead skin, and drawing out perspiration through the head, leave skin clean and soft.
Also known as PETA. Preferred cosmetics, such as jane iredale®, utilize NO ANIMAL TESTING for the production and/or testing of their products, and are labeled cruelty-free to animals.
Prenatal massage is massage therapy that is especially tailored to an expectant mother's demands. Prenatal massage is different from a regular massage because it demands that a new mother's body has to be positioned as well as supported in the right way; this is achieved by utilizing pillows and some padding.
Introduced as zone therapy to the West in 1913 by Dr. William Fitzgerald, reflexology is based on ancient techniques that use pressure-point massage, usually on the feet but also on the hands and ears, to restore the flow of energy throughout the body. Practitioners believe that areas on feet and hands correspond to other areas throughout the body. Used to relieve symptoms of such conditions as back pain, migraines, arthritis, sleep disorders, injuries, and stress.
Common facial skin disorder characterized by redness on the cheeks, nose, chin, or forehead; small visible blood vessels on the face, bumps, or pimples, and water or irritated eyes that usually affects people over 30.
Medicinal herb taken in tablet, brewed as tea, or used as ointment believed by some to relieve mild to moderate depression. May be counter-indicated for anyone on antidepressant medication or who is photosensitive or allergic.
Body treatment using concentrated seawater and seaweed that contains nutrients including minerals, rare trace elements, vitamins, and proteins. Said by proponents to detoxify, increase circulation, and improve appearance of cellulite.
The International Spa Association (ISPA) defines the word spa in the following way: "Spas are devoted to enhancing overall well-being through a variety of professional services that encourage the renewal of mind, body and spirit."
Indoor cycling on stationary bikes that allow riders to adjust resistance to make pedaling easier or harder. Class instructors guide students through a virtual hilly course and cue students about adjusting resistance.
Classical European massage technique manipulating muscles with the use of massage oils and five different movements: long strokes, kneading, tapping, friction, and vibration. Used to soothe tense muscles, increase circulation and flexibility, and de-stress.
Vegetarian who eats no dairy products or any other food derived from animals.
One who eats only fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and sometimes eggs or dairy products.
Depilation process that involves application of warm wax followed by a strip of cloth quickly pulled away from skin to remove unwanted hair.
Use of free weights or weight machines in a series of repetitive exercises meant both to tone the body and add or replace lean muscle mass and also to raise metabolism.
An individual's state of being that signifies positive health and quality of life, including physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional components.
Ancient art and philosophy that involves both mind and body and is aimed at self-development and self-realization. The physical practice of yoga involves performing postures (asanas) and using controlled breathing and meditation to stretch and tone the body and improve circulation.
Japanese teaching with origins in ancient China whose belief is that the only path to enlightenment is through direct, intuitive insight-by focusing solely on your essential nature.