Although the word spa is often thrown around for a variety of different venues, there are actually distinct differences between a medical spa and a day spa.
Focusing on relaxation, beauty and improving one’s health, the day spa is a common way to relax and unwind with a variety of different treatments and services to try.
With mani/pedis, facials, massages, mud baths and other luxuries on offer, it’s a wonderful way to, as the name suggests, unwind during a full day of self care.
Certain day spas may occasionally offer specialist treatments such as reflexology, acupuncture or hot stone massages; others might have an integrated beauty salon where customers can also have their hair and makeup done after they relax.
Employees at the day spa will usually be certified and must carry a license to practice, whether that’s as a masseuse, a spa therapist or aesthetician.
That being said, there will not be a licensed medical director present, nor will any of the staff be qualified as nurses or otherwise medically trained in most cases.
Med spas on the other hand are more about offering medical-grade, sometimes invasive treatments, usually to treat skin conditions such as acne, problems with pigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles, patchy redness or broken capillaries.
It’s not so much about being taken care of as it is receiving a professional service that ensures long-term improvement to a problem you may be experiencing, offering more advanced treatments than those available at a traditional day spa.
As a result, it’s imperative that all staff within med spas be clinically trained professionals, because the treatments being offered may be invasive, with the potential for serious consequences if they are not administered correctly by someone who knows what they are doing.
You’ll find that the majority of states will legally require that any medical spa must be run by or have a licensed physician in-house who has received specialist training, for instance a fully qualified dermatologist.
Some states require that the entire staff is made up of medically trained providers to receive the operating licenses necessary to legally operate as a medical spa.
For the most part, these will be medical assistants, nurse practitioners, the overseeing physician, licensed aestheticians or physician assistants – anyone legally allowed to carry out the more significant treatments.
What is the difference between a salon and a spa?
Where a regular salon is good for getting your nails done or a facial every few weeks, day spas are a far more luxurious enterprise to be reserved for a special occasion, offering the ultimate in relaxation and pampering as well as a health kick to boot.
Your average beauty salon offers a variety of cosmetic treatments. Body massage is administered using a variety of techniques and products, as are facials, both being fantastic ways to take care of your skin and body more generally.
At nail salons in particular, hands and feet can be pampered with manicures and pedicures; some general salons also offer waxing and other forms of hair removal – they could also style hair and do makeup as well, offering a one stop shop for customers to get beautified.
You may also find certain salons that offer sun tanning via instant spray tan or tanning beds, though the latter are becoming less popular in the industry due to the risk of skin cancer.
Spas, on the other hand, will offer most of the services you can find at beauty salons, but they are usually taken up a notch in terms of luxury, with plenty of other exciting additions to choose from and enjoy.
Additional facilities you’ll find at a spa and not a salon include swimming pools, steam rooms, saunas and jacuzzis, as well as relaxation areas where you can simply lay back and unwind in the peace and quiet.
You may also find extra beauty treatments and procedures that regular salons can’t offer because they require a trained practitioner. These include microdermabrasion, gua sha, moxibustion, ear candling and aromatherapy.
There is also a distinction to be made between a day spa and a destination spa: where the former is something that you would attend for a good few hours, the latter involves spending the night, possibly even staying for multiple days.
Destination spas will offer similar treatments, but they will usually be presented as set packages, including opportunities for Tai Chi, yoga and other wellness activities, as well as opportunities to discuss diet and exercise or receive some life coaching.
Accommodation is typically luxurious to allow for you to enjoy every minute of your trip and totally relax. There’ll be no asking for extra pillows or complaining about a poor night’s sleep at a destination spa, that’s for sure!
What is the difference between a spa and a parlor?
Parlors, much like beauty salons, are more accessible and affordable than spas, but even more so.
They are distinctive from their salon counterparts too, because they only tend to offer one specific treatment, usually only directed at men or women, though sometimes they may be able to accommodate any gender depending on the skills of the employees.
You’ll also find that in contrast to the more professional setting of a salon, which is usually in a well-developed retail space in a private area and with a better standard of equipment, parlors tend to be a smaller, more community-oriented kind of place with less money to work with.
This in no way says anything about the quality of work that they do, it’s just that a parlor is not usually run with the same – admittedly very enjoyable – airs and graces of a spa, which means they don’t charge as much money for their services.
As a result, there’s that lovely community feel which can, for some, be preferable to the tranquil fanciness of the spa.
They are also different from spas for the following reasons:
- Parlors don’t offer specialist services: as those working at beauty parlors don’t tend to be specialized in certain areas like aesthetics or massage, you likely won’t be able to access some higher-end treatments available at salons and spas here.
- Parlors have a singular focus: again, parlors will typically only have one or two staff members working at any one time, which means they can probably only provide a small range of services. If you’re looking for somewhere you can get a haircut, a facial and your nails done, a parlor is probably not going to help you achieve that. However, it’s also worth noting that not every spa will offer all of the services you’re looking for, so always do your due diligence and double check before booking!