On Sundays while my husband finds joy in the sounds of whistles, referee announcements and men grunting, I prefer to escape to Koreatown here in Los Angeles to experience my own Sunday oasis – Natura Spa. When I first moved to LA, I explored the larger (also slightly more expensive) Korean spas – Olympic, Century and Wi – but found the intimate quiet and reasonable prices for top notch services at Natura Spa more my speed. I’ve been frequenting this spa for almost five years and each time I go, I typically get one of the following two treatments:
1. Acupressure Massage
What it is: Clients enter the massage room robed and freshly bathed, and lay naked underneath a sheet face down on a low massage bed. A petite, stout Korean lady in white slacks and black t-shirt will knead every muscle, every knot you have into putty. Fists, fingers, knuckles, knees and feet will be used to melt away your stress.
Best for: Those who like deep tissue massages. You can ask for them to go softer, but why would you? Get the full experience and let them pound you to a pile of jelly. I recommend it.
Duration: Can be booked in 30, 55, and 85 minute sessions
Tip: This treatment should be booked 30min – 1hr post arriving at Natura Spa since you’ll want plenty of time to enjoy the facilities. I recommend you soak in the pools, open your pores in the steam room, and unwind watching Korean dramas in the wooden sauna – yes, there is a tv inside.
Also, I’ve booked the 30 minute massage session in the past and it’s not enough time. While the 85 minute session is too much. After a 85 minute session, I experienced flu-like symptoms from my muscles being overworked. I’ve experienced this before when I’ve had other deep tissue 90min massages. Experts say it’s from toxins being released from the tissues. So go for the 55 minute session. You’ll find it’s just right.
Price: $60 ($55 M – W)
2. Aroma Package
What it is: Be prepared for a traditional Korean spa experience like no other. After soaking in the tub to soften dead skin, you’ll be asked to lie naked on a massage table as a Korean lady clad in black bra and panties scrubs every inch of you with a sandpaper-like mitt. Dead skin will roll off of you, water will be splashed on you, and nooks and crannies will not be politely avoided. A menthol massage oil will be used to loosen your neck muscles. And tingling mint shampoo used to wash your hair. A green avocado face mask will soothe any irritated skin. And finally an oil massage will lock in moisture on your freshly revealed skin. Your skin will be softer than you’ve ever known it to be. Your muscles loose and relaxed. And a feeling of clean will enrapture you unlike any you’ve ever experienced.
Best for: Changing seasons, big events or hot dates
Duration: Roughly 1.5 hours
Tip: The key to getting all of the dead skin off is to soak for at least 10-15 minutes in the hottest pool in the center of the room before your number is called.
Price: $100 ($90 M- W)
While these two treatments may have you itching to get into Natura, a few weeks ago I experienced a service that surpassed both as my new favorite treatment! It is their Premium Scalp Care Treatment.
While I was in Tokyo last year, I experienced scalp treatments for the first time. They are very popular in Japan and can be had at local “head spas” as they’re called. It’s like getting a blow out minus the hair drying part, but with immense care taken to cleanse, mask, massage and treat the scalp. It is now in rotation as one of my regular treatments at Natura and the third spa service I highly recommend you try should you find yourself at my favorite spot.
Premium Scalp Care
What is it: A facial for your scalp. The treatment begins with a heated neck massage. The aesthetician rubs warm jelly on the back of your neck and shoulders, then massages a rounded heated metal device into your muscles. Ten minutes go by and you won’t want her to stop. But she does and it’s onto the scalp treatment. You’ll be guided to a typical salon washing bowl where your scalp will be rinsed with a carbonated, bubbling powder rinse, massaged intensely with a pronged comb, soaked in a moisture treatment, and then misted with various hair tonics. But it doesn’t end there. Your hair will be towel dried and you’ll be guided to lie down face up on a massage table. Next, a mini facial and even deeper head, neck and chest massage. Welcome to heaven, ladies and gentlemen. Your hair will be smooth. Your scalp refreshed and your face glowing from the lymphatic drainage.
Best for: Itchy, irritated, flaky scalps; oily hair with product build-up; and/or anyone looking for a hair refresher
Duration: 75 minutes
Tip: Your hair will be damp post treatment. Refrain from twisting it up in a heavy towel, which can pull and weaken hair strands. Instead, use the Korean sheep-towel method.
Good luck on your Korean spa journey! And make sure to stop by the cafe for some kimchi jjigae after your treatments! And who knows, maybe we’ll bump into each other.
Written & Photographed by Amy Chang