In The Telegraph recently, family travel editor Sally Peck discussed beauty treatments for children and the pros and cons of taking younger children to spas. Is it a case of painting the lily? Throwing up ethical and physiological questions? Or is it a positive environment where children can learn about wellbeing without developing negative connotations?
One thing is for sure, the spa industry is continuing to develop and so its its attitude towards younger visitors. Treatments and products are developing to accommodate younger audiences, and our collective attitude to wellbeing is also changing. As for us, we take the view that as with most things health, wellbeing and parenting, a lot of it is down to personal choice, but these are the guidelines that may help you in your decisions within the spa industry as it stands today…
Many spas do not allow children under the age of 16 to use facilities, and the majority do not offer treatments under that age. At some spas, a small collection of treatments such as manicures and pedicures are offered to teenagers, and on occasion, specialised facials for younger skin. Few, but some spas will offer baby massage.
While age restrictions in many places are to preserve the tranquility of the spa experience for visiting adults, who tend to like playing fewer games in the swimming pool, as with all restrictions in spas, restrictions on treatments are predominantly for health and wellbeing reasons – younger skin being more sensitive to products for example.
One of the key reasons spas often limit the access of children to facilities is for the benefit of the experience of other paying guests. We all know that children treat their downtime a little differently to most adults, and while the sound of their enjoyment as they splash in the pool and play games can be music to our ears, it’s not generally what most guests visit a spa for. There are a number of spa facilities that are family friendly and therefore offer leisure facilities that allow access for children, but many are for adults only.
The bit that gets really tricky when it comes to children and spas, is more to do with the suitability of the experience, and in our increasingly complicated world of body confidence and body questions, the age at which we introduce children to questions of beauty and beauty enhancement is a deeply personal one for parents that no one else can answer. Many skincare products are far too strong to put on children’s delicate skin’s, so if you are taking a child or young teenager to a spa, it is best to have a serious chat with therapists and do your research – most would not use spa products on young skin.
That said, much about the spa experience is not to do with beauty, but about learning about health and wellbeing in an enjoyable environment, and again, the age at which you choose to bring that awareness to your children is a personal one. There are some wonderfully positive body and wellbeing associations to be taken from the spa experience, where it is all about looking after yourself in a kind way, so for many it may be an extremely valuable experience at the right age.
Equally, for teenagers learning to look after their changing skin, a therapist can be a helpful source of information. It may be that while we are in the midst of a bit of a body image crisis, a spa can provide a safe space to learn and understand.
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