First, the staff mixes cocoa and what might be milk powder into a warming, bubbling foot soak, letting my feet steep in what's more or less hot chocolate. Next comes a scrub that looks and smells like brownie batter. The technician/baker holds the ramekin up to my nose so I can get the full effect. I want to lick it. I don't.

The coarse mixture goes on like sandpaper but leaves my feet — and hands — super smooth. After some typical mani/pedi nail maintenance moves, the technician dunks my feet and hands into plastic bags filled with hot paraffin and tucks them into thick booties for a few minutes while it cools.

She finishes by working in a thick lotion that I'm convinced came right from Wegmans' baking aisle — it smells like exactly like buttercream icing. The technician confides that real butter is the main ingredient.

If chocolate is somehow not your thing, the spa offers similarly extended nail treatments flavored with the likes of mango butter, lavender peppermint, lemongrass and ginger.

A happy face, and a massage, too

About Faces Day Spa & Salon

1501 S. Clinton St., 3rd floor, Canton, and other regional locations. 410-675-0099. AboutFacesDaySpa.com

Anti-Stress Facial, $120 for about an hour

Before anything starts, I'm walked past displays of luxe creams and potions to a lounge where I wait to meet the aesthetician. It's a hushed, plush space with suffused light, soft furniture and that New Age spa music playing. These places keep the sitar and flute folks in business.

I can help myself to coffee, ginger peach tea and butter cookies. There's a big bowl of mints, too, perhaps to spare therapists customers with bad breath. Fuzzy throws are available, but it seems a bit soon for snuggling.

I pick the anti-stress facial on a bit of a whim because it's an unexplained mystery on the spa's website — just a name and a price. It turns out to be a facial and massage hybrid. You get a very thorough helping of each — good for the indecisive and the budget-conscious.

The aesthetician/masseuse has me change into a towel wrap and lie on my stomach in a room as small as it is dark. The music is of course filtered in. She starts with a back massage, working in a scrub, erasing it with hot towels and then deftly rubbing on cream.

I'm instructed to flip so she can start the facial, turning on a machine that puffs steam in my direction. There's a cleansing, a mask, exfoliations — lots and lots of anonymous cream. In between each wave of applications, most available body parts have a turn at being massaged. She works her way down. Arm to hand and then all five fingers. Neck, chest, legs — even my sad, neglected winter feet.

At some point she steps out and leaves me in the dark to ... well, who knows what? I'm pretty sure I fell asleep for a minute or two. And then she's back for a final round of warm towels, cream and serum.

When, alas, time's up, this is when I could use a snuggle with those blankets in the other room, but I'm ushered out to the bright, mall-like front to consider $30 soap.

More sitar, please. Please?

jill.rosen@baltsun.com

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