A “Uniquely Saratoga” Spa Experience

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Hydrotherapy tubs at Complexions in Saratoga use mineral water piped directly from a spring below the spa.
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A Complexions attendant massages a client.

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When you’re spending 40 hours a week, often more, typing away at a desk, your body feels every minute of it. Your back strains and your neck tightens, as your hands begin to ache from the repetitive motion. The truth is, that while we’re busy going about our day jobs, our bodies are paying for it.

But a little pampering and some targeted relaxation can ease the pain, and go a long way toward refreshing our mental and physical health. With that in mind, I stopped by Complexions on Broadway to try out two uniquely Saratoga spa treatments that incorporate one of the area’s prized assets: its mineral springs.

First up, a 20-minute soak in a private room, in mineral water piped directly into a tub from a natural spring below the spa. It’s perfectly clear and wonderfully hot, and fortunately, without the signature sulfuric scent of other local springs. And get this—the salt and mineral content renders your entire body buoyant, which although a bit odd at first, feels lovely once you settle in. Worries can’t weigh on you in quite the same way when you’re weightless.

Balneotherapy, or hydrotherapy, has been used for centuries to cure disease, improve circulation and relieve both pain and stress. After all, we know that a good soak—even in your own home—can do wonders for your state of mind and body, but this spring water comes with its own set of benefits, according to Complexions founder, Denise Dubois.

First, it has magnesium, which softens skin and fights inflammation, making it particularly good for treating eczema and psoriasis, as well as arthritis. Calcium, also present, helps ease discomfort related to musculoskeletal disorders and supports healthy digestion. Chloride, iron, sodium and sulfur can lower cholesterol and blood pressure, while also promoting circulation and detoxification. Your body absorbs these trace minerals during immersion and puts them to use where they’re needed most.

After 27 years of operation in Albany, Dubois opened her secondary location in Saratoga in 2014, and was thrilled to learn there was a spring located underneath the building, which conveniently borders Congress Park. She was even more pleased when the results of a water test came back, revealing crystalline water, chock full of good-for-you minerals—which make for a soothing, but also therapeutic soak.

But before you dive in, an attendant helps you choose an essential oil to add to the experience—everything from citrus to spruce, all with different intended effects ranging from soothing to inspiring. I opted for lavender, as I had told myself going in that relaxation was the main aim for the day. Blue-hued lights, which tinted the water aqua, were meant to do the very same, and further create a calming experience. Jets pulsated water at my back and feet, as I laid back and tried to focus on me. Not always an easy feat, but it gets better with time.

Although I had been warned, I wasn’t quite aware just how hot the soak had been until I stepped out and felt the need to down a glass of ice water, thoughtfully placed at my side. I was then instructed to step into a few inches of cool water, to further drop my body temperature. It worked like a charm.

Then it was on to a dimly-lit massage room, for a Saratoga mineral mud wrap on my back—which was in need of some TLC after several long work days. The mud, blended specifically for Complexions, contains calcium and magnesium, as well as laminaria, an Icelandic seaweed which helps ease common skin ailments. When mixed with the magnesium-rich mineral water found in the spring, the mud becomes a powerful anti-inflammatory, fighting pain while improving circulation, according to Dubois: “It’s very good for stiff, achy joints, sore muscles and even arthritis.”

Smooth, not gritty, the mud is applied warm, and a towel is laid on top to retain heat and promote absorption. While that’s setting, an attendant massages my arms and neck with a simple oil mixed with a scented blend of lemon verbena, neroli and chamomile known as “chill,” to promote relaxation.

I could also have chosen “inspire,” a blend of balsam fir, pink grapefruit and mandarin designed to feel uplifting; “meditation,” which blends sandalwood, clove and cardamom for clarity; or “root balance,” which uses lemongrass, peppermint and whole leaf basil to reduce stress and boost immunity.

Once my arms and neck are done, the mud is gently removed—not to fear, it never hardened—and my back is also massaged, which helps to release a few knots that have been plaguing me for days. Once that’s complete, I’m encouraged to take a few minutes to myself before donning a robe and heading off to the locker room for a quick shower.

As I was in a time crunch, I wasn’t able to make use of the spa’s steam room, sauna and cold deluge, but I did enjoy a cup of hot Tranquility tea—the spa’s own blend—before heading out into the chilly spring weather, feeling a bit more ready than I had been a few hours before, to tackle another busy week and come out on top. Oh, and my skin looked and felt great—even two friends said so over dinner that evening.