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Express Lane: Mini-Spa Treatments

There’s no slowing down the rise of the mini–spa treatment.

Illustration by Ryan Snook.

Mini-treatments hit the spa scene several years ago in an effort to appeal to the time-crunched. Since then, more spas have been offering facials and massages of 30 minutes or less.

“The increase in the number of airport spas worldwide plays into this ‘express’ trend, as does the decline of elaborate rituals at many spas,” says Susie Ellis, president of SpaFinder Wellness. “People want to get to the heart of the matter—the therapeutic treatment.”

Says Marla Malcolm Beck, the owner of Bluemercury and a busy mother of three: “I wouldn’t sit still to have a facial for a full hour. Thirty minutes is the perfect amount of time.” To that end, her Arlington outpost offers the Fast Blast facial (30 minutes, $85), which includes a deep cleaning, a glycolic peel, and an infusion of oxygen plus vitamins A, C, and E.

At Fountains Day Spa in Alexandria, instead of lathering up and wiping down your entire face, the Mini Facial (25 minutes, $57) zeroes in on a problem area specified by you, such as puffy eyes or a pimply forehead.

Facials are one thing. Massages are in a league of their own. “The secret to a time-saving massage that’s worth it is making sure the therapist dedicates the treatment to just one or two key areas,” says Julia Boeminghaus, spa and health director at the Four Seasons Hotel in Georgetown, which offers a sampling of Executive Treatments (25 minutes, $95) for time-strapped travelers. At Elaj Aveda Day Spa in Rockville, the Elemental Nature Therapeutic Massage (30 minutes, $55) forgoes full-body muscle manipulation in favor of therapeutic touch only to the tightest ligaments.

Another reason the International Spa Association has seen an increase in shorter treatments may come down to the bottom line. “These became more popular since the last recession,” says Boeminghaus. “Spa-goers want to watch their budgets.”

While dollar-a-minute mall massages and pop-up facial shops may get the job done, they don’t offer the mind-calming ambience of a spa. Every Tuesday at the Spa at Mint—the two locations, in Adams Morgan and downtown DC, are airy and naturally lit—you can get a Tranquil Tuesday treatment (30 minutes, $49), which is a facial or massage that focuses on the specifics, such as the ruddiness in your cheeks or the kink in your left hamstring.

Day Spas 2013 ››

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