Massages, facials, nail treatments add right touch for the stressed-out

A NEW LOOK TO VACATIONS

August 29, 1993|By Audrey Haar | Audrey Haar,Staff Writer

A crew of nail technicians, massage therapists and facial assistants stand at the ready. Their tools -- a vibrating pedi-spa chair, kneady knuckles and gooey seaweed wraps -- are not those of torture but of first-class pampering.

What's a stressed-out vacationer to do?

Relax.

"It makes you feel special," says Lisette d'Amours Coates, sitting atop the throne-like pedi-spa chair at the Headlines salon in Ocean City. The Washington resident is just starting a pedicure after her manicure. "It's very relaxing.

"I love to be pampered," she admits.

Several area salons and health clubs provide a place to relax while getting a facial, massage, manicure or pedicure.

It's not overexposure to the sun that sends people in search of skin care during their beach holiday, says Carol Chaney Withers, owner of A perfect face salon in Ocean City. "A lot of people get sunburned, but that's not our biggest problem," she says. "They come here because they want to look younger."

The selection of facials alone could cause a wrinkled brow. There's European, Hydradermie, Bio-Peel, collagen, paraffin, Retin-A therapy, aromatherapy and four-layer seaweed. Some treatments scrub the skin, others aim to trap moisture in and still more claim to protect the face with nutrients. Choose from hot and cold applications or ones that smell like a salad.

Nathan Bobrow is an experienced pro at this relaxing stuff. The Washington gynecologist had his first facial on a cruise ship a few years ago, and has had them regularly ever since.

In a dimmed room with soft music, Dr. Bobrow reclines on a chair while Carol Withers of A perfect face layers on creams and clay to form a four-layer mask. The sensation, says Dr. Bobrow, feels like the outer layer of the mask is generating heat and it gets heavier as it dries.

For Dana Tull of Berlin, the perfect anti-tension antidote is a pedicure that includes a foot and leg massage. "When your feet are in the tub, whirlpools massage them. This one was more extensive because the chair vibrates," says the A perfect face client. "I felt like I wanted to drift off and go to sleep."

Dawn Townsend of Ocean City enjoyed that same benefit from her facial. "You get to the point that you drift off to sleep," she says.

The busy mother of 2-year-old triplets and a 6-year-old says she decided to pamper herself as "a present to myself for my birthday." She adds, "I needed it."

That may be the case, but it was her 6-year-old who provided the incentive for Mrs. Townsend to schedule an appointment. "My daughter said, 'Your feet are wrinkly,' " Mrs. Townsend recalls. "Leave it to kids to be brutally honest."

In addition to the salons in town, the Ocean City Health & Racquetball Club on 61st Street has hot whirlpool baths, steamy eucalyptus, steam and sauna facilities.

The health club also offers massages that include use of the baths and steam rooms. Massage therapist Barbara Gillespie Ward says the eucalyptus room is helpful for people who have asthma or sinus problems, and the steam room is good for people with muscle problems.

During the massage, Ms. Ward says she works on the feet, legs, arms, hands, neck, shoulders, face and back. She tells clients that the massage is non-sexual and that they are covered by a sheet at all times. "You try to make them feel that they are the only person in the world. It touches your mind and body. For some people it is a spiritual experience," says Ms. Ward.

For others it fills a void in their lives. "Touch is a missing factor for

many people," says Ms. Ward. "It's nurturing."

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