News & Politics

Quick Fixes

No time to pamper yourself? Day spas know you’re busy—which is why most now offer express facials, massages, and other treatments that can leave you feeling good in no time.

A visit to a day spa should offer a retreat from workaday woes, but spa directors say many clients rush in and out like it’s a doctor’s appointment.

Brian Simon, spa director at the Four Seasons Hotel in Georgetown, saw a customer with her BlackBerry in hand while getting a facial. “I was totally shocked,” he says. “Aren’t they there to relax?” At one point the client “conked out and took a nap.”

To accommodate multitasking and overbooked Washingtonians, day spas have come up with convenient features and time-saving strategies. These include extended hours, express versions of popular treatments, several treatments packed into a single session, and the option of delivering the spa experience—like a pizza—to your office or home.

Spas Versus Salons 

When time is at a premium, spas in hair salons offer an advantage. Karly Cutsforth, of Eclips Salon & Day Spa in Ashburn, sees lots of mothers on the go. Often, while hair chemicals are processing on heads, Cutsforth arranges for customers to pop over to the other side of the salon for a massage, manicure, or waxing. One tip if you try to arrange this yourself: Make sure the stylist can check the progress of any hair chemicals.

The downside to blended hair and spa operations may be a less serene environment in the reception area. Lori Pedemonti, an esthetician at Dansk in Occoquan, says: “The energy levels in hair salons are up, up, up and go, go, go.”

Here is a sampling of short spa services around town; most are promised to take an hour or less.

10 Minutes 

Eyebrow Shaping

At Piaf, where the ambiance is usually bustling, a calm Jennifer Fitzpatrick ushers customers who are in a hurry into a small treatment room for brow waxing. Ten minutes later they emerge sporting better brows—but also feeling refreshed, thanks to the violin soundtrack and aromatherapy. $20.

Piaf Salon and Day Spa, 1023 15th St., NW; 202-783-3334; Open Monday through Saturday 9 to 7, Sunday 10 to 6.

Chair Massage

A seated massage is one way to work out neck kinks and upper-back aches when there is no time to undress for a standard massage. Seated rubdowns at the sleek Somafit spa start at $18.

Somafit, 2121 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-965-2121; Open Monday through Friday 6 am to 9 pm, Saturday 8 to 7, Sunday 10 to 6.

20 Minutes 

Quick Table Massage

Twenty minutes may not sound like enough time to get into a massage, but Mosaic Total Body Salon’s Tech Neck rubdown transports in seconds. Marie, the massage therapist, uses oil of black pepper to warm muscles before shifting to a variety of techniques—kneading, pushing pressure points, using chopping motions—to smooth out knots.

Though this is billed as a neck-and-shoulder massage, Marie, a former nurse, covers a lot of ground, spending time on oft-neglected areas like those where spine and skull meet (lots of little muscles there, she says) and going as far down as the hips. Unlike with other quickie massages, you remove clothes at least to the waist and lie on a comfy padded table in a room scented with candles. She dims the lights when she’s done, gives you a moment to relax alone, then returns to help you sit up and drink water. It’s a nice way to come back to reality. $35.

Mosaic Total Body Salon, 8001 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda; 301-986-9151, Open Tuesday through Friday 10 to 7, Saturday 9to 5.

25 Minutes 

Express Facial

With the Beaute Express Facial at Dansk, esthetician Lori Pedemonti says she tries to keep an eye on the clock to deliver the basics of the spa’s classic facial, which lasts about 50 minutes. (While this facial is supposed to take less than half an hour and not include extractions, our tester’s treatment took 38 minutes—but she so enjoyed the friendly service at this intimate spa, plus the extractions and hand/arm/shoulder/neck massage that were thrown in, that she couldn’t complain.) $55.

Dansk, 212A Commerce St., Occoquan; 703-492-1991; Open Tuesday through Friday 10 to 7, Saturday 9:30 to 4, Sunday by appointment noon to 4.

30 Minutes 

Power-Nap Eye Treatment

This treatment at Synergy Day Spa in DC’s Adams Morgan hydrates delicate eye tissue with essential oils and warm towels. It aims not only to perk up eyes but to put people to sleep—which is why owner Angela Spicer recommends it after work for a quick destressing. It may not take years off your eyes—it didn’t for our tester—but the treatment, heavy with the scent of lavender, is so relaxing that you’ll be sorry to have it end. $40.

Synergy Day Spa, 1806 Vernon St., NW, Suite C; 202-667-1855; Open Tuesday through Friday 10 to 7, Saturday 9 to 6, Sunday by appointment 11 to 4.

Peaceful Choice

The intimate, modern Spa at Mint is a peaceful place. On “tranquil Tuesdays” you can get quick doses of serenity: The spa offers 30-minute versions of its facial or massage—both come with an organic smoothie or juice blend—for $45.

The Spa at Mint, 1724 California St., NW; 202-328-6468; Hours vary.

45 Minutes 

Manicure and Pedicure

“The Express” is an unadvertised service at Natural Body Spa. It promises to deliver the basic elements of manicure and pedicure (soaking, filing, shaping, and polishing) in fast fashion by skipping massage and exfoliation. Our tester’s conscientious nail technician worked on fingers and toes, though, for close to an hour. If you’re truly in a hurry, bring flip-flops for shopping in the mall while your toes dry. $40.

Natural Body Spa and Shoppe, Ballston Common, 703-243-4015 (Tuesdays until 9); Ashburn, 703-726-9935; Northwest DC, 202-775-2070; Potomac, 301-610-5004; Open Monday through Friday 10 to 8, Saturday 10 to 6, Sunday 11 to 6.

Fast Facial

It’s not on the menu at Skin Beauty Lounge, but longtime customers know to ask for the abbreviated version of its 60-minute, $100 signature facial. The express version includes a mask; technicians will squeeze in a little massage as time permits. $55.

Skin Beauty Lounge, 404½ Eighth St., SE; 202-543-6993; Open Monday 2 to 9, Tuesday through Thursday 11 to 9, Friday and Saturday 8 to 8, Sunday 11 to 5.

60 Minutes or So 

The Works

Lori Kushner caters to customers who have a million things to do: “Many times I will do a lip wax, a brow wax, and a facial with oxygen and a light peel all in about an hour.” Because hers is a clinical spa, she keeps a record of customers’ product sensitivities and health concerns, which allows her to customize treatments quickly. $160.

Clin-Spa, 332 Main St., the Kentlands, Gaithersburg; 301-990-1991; Open Monday 9:30 to 4:30, Tuesday and Thursday 9:30 to 9:30, Wednesday 8 to 4:30, Friday and Saturday 9:30 to 7:30.

Four-Handed Massage

Get two hours of service in one by signing up for a four-handed massage. At Amenity Day Spa, massage therapists Chelsea and Nick stand at opposite ends of the table and work in tandem—for example, as one kneads a client’s left shoulder, the other massages the right foot. The Swedish-based technique is enhanced by reflexology on pressure points. Our tester declared it a multitasker’s dream come true—and highly recommends it to anyone who is shorter on time than money. $180.

Amenity Day Spa, 44365 Premier Plaza, Suite 120, Ashburn; 703-726-8100; Open Monday 1 to 9, Tuesday through Friday 9 to 9, Saturday 8 to 6, Sunday 10 to 5.

Working in a Workout

Choosing a spa attached to a health club lets you fit in a workout and a spa treatment with a single change of clothes. Somafit (see page 159), Capital City Club and Spa, and Serenity Day Spas are all full-service spas that share their space with a gym.

Capital City Club and Spa, 1001 16th St., NW; 202-639-4307; Open Monday through Friday 10 to 8, Saturday 10 to 7, Sunday 10 to 6.

Serenity Day Spa, 13037 Worldgate Dr., Herndon; 703-709-6596; 209 Madison St., Alexandria, 703-549-9212; 4000 Wisconsin Ave., NW, 202-362-2560;

Mobile Spa

Those who can’t make time for a visit to a spa may want to order services to go. Juanita Wright Ahaghotu, an esthetician and makeup artist, started offering mobile spa services to visiting entertainers—then realized many locals also want fast pampering on the spot.

Wright can dispatch a team of three to do hair and makeup simultaneously with a nail, massage, or facial treatment—all in an hour in your home. Like other mobile spa businesses in the region, Wright’s company also organizes home spa parties. Check out our guide to throwing a spa party on page 162—when time permits, of course.

Wright Touch Travelling Spa, 202-277-1405;


This article is part of the 2008 Great Day Spas Package. To read more articles like it, click here