With services that include sea-salt scrubs, Botox injections and ear candling, day spas in Howard County can provide luxurious escapes from the stresses of everyday life and help customers look and feel better in the process.
Some customers stop by for a couple of hours, for maintenance procedures such as manicures and hair-removal; others indulge in a full day of pampering, often with friends, that might include facials, a gourmet lunch and hydrotherapy. Treatments like hot stone massages - in which smooth stones are warmed and placed on the body as part of a more traditional massage - have become commonplace. But these days, spas are turning to more exotic treatments, such as body wraps that promise to take inches off the figure or reflexology massages that promise to relax the entire body though the massage therapist works only on the feet.
The spa business is booming in Howard County. Lynn's Day Spa, one of the first in the county when it opened nine years ago, has expanded four times, said owner Lynn Shannon, and now has 4,000 square feet and 25 treatment rooms. Meanwhile, new spas continue to open and flourish.
Here is a listing of many local day spas and some of the services they offer.
Lynn's Day Spa, 10720 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia, 410-730-1822.
Seaweed body wraps, Dead Sea salt scrubs and time in an oxygen chamber are among the treatments offered at this something-for-everyone retreat.
Owner Lynn Shannon said about 40 percent of her customers are men, who come in for services ranging from facials to sports massages.
The wide-ranging list of services starts with a simple manicure, and goes up from there. Perhaps the most luxurious package is a six-hour relaxation session that includes a mud wrap, steam, aromatherapy massage, manicure, pedicure and paraffin treatments for the hand and feet.
Lynn's also provides spa treatment for the Columbia Association at the Columbia Gym in the River Hill Village Center.
Studio K Salon and Spa, 11045 Stratfield Court, Marriottsville, 410-442-4060.
Owner Kathy Hughes opened this full-service spa and salon in September 2005, and said customers come in for everything from haircuts to massages. A salon offers hair care, manicures and pedicures, and there is a separate spa for massages and facials.
One spa service is ear candling, a centuries-old technique that places a paraffin cylinder in the outer canal of the ear. When it is lit, Hughes said, "It pulls all the toxins out."
Massage options include hot stone, prenatal, deep tissue and Swedish, she said.
DeFoor's Eden Salon and Spa, 8381 Merryman St., Ellicott City, 410-203-2743.
Located in historic Ellicott City, this spa and salon, which opened in 2000, promises a soothing environment that turns even a simple procedure into a luxurious break from the everyday.
"It has to be a total experience," said owner Gregory DeFoor. Equipment like a Vichy shower with multiple showerheads and a hydrotherapy tub enhance the feeling of luxury, he said.
There's also a cafe serving espressos, smoothies, cookies and other nibbles.
Oasis Day Spa, 10840 Little Patuxent Parkway, Suite 201, Columbia, 410-992-6772.
One of the more popular services here is threading, an ancient Indian technique for removing facial hair by catching it between threads that are twisted together. It's said to remove hair at the root, without swelling or redness.
The spa, near Howard Community College, opened about four years ago. Its services include an anti-puffiness eye treatment and a reflexology massage. It provides services ranging from a glycolic facial peel that promises to reduce fine lines to an aromatic fango wrap, which alleviates aches and pains.
The spa offers a wide range of massages, including a sports massage, scalp massage and hot stone massage. A half-hour private steam bath beforehand is also offered to loosen muscles.
The Spa at Turf Valley, 2700 Turf Valley Road, Ellicott City, 410-465-1500.
The spa at the Turf Valley Resort and Conference Center is open to the public and provides a range of services, including facials and massages.
As with many other spas, Turf Valley offers services targeted to particular clients, such as a men's facial, a teen Swedish massage, an expectant mothers' facial and a couple's massage. But Turf Valley, since it is also a resort, offers weekend packages as well. The spa Jacuzzi romance, for example, includes a stay in a room with a Jacuzzi, massages in the room, and a room-service breakfast.