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The 90-Minute Scalp Massage You Never Knew You Needed

Sit back, relax, and enjoy Hera Head Spa’s Ultimate Head Spa Treatment. (Unless you’re at all claustrophobic.)
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When I walk into the lobby at the Hera Head Spa in Mansfield for the Hera Ultimate treatment, I am expecting a lot of things. Their website told me that their hair treatments can address scalp issues and enhance shine and body while alleviating stress. They offer services ranging from shampoos to acupressure massage to herbal water circulation and steaming.

One thing I am definitely not expecting is to have a magnified view of my scalp projected onto a screen in front of everyone else as soon as I sit down in the packed lobby. As they scroll across my scalp, I lose my appetite forever. Up close, it looks like the moon’s surface populated by a sporadic smattering of dying licorice trees. They upsell me a hydrating treatment that I too-immediately approve, speed-praying they will, in turn, shut the screen off. Thankfully, they do. Then they tell me I have a beautiful scalp, which is like saying a baby took a gorgeous dump. 

Now, I am ready for the Hera Ultimate treatment: a 90-minute service that includes two shampoos, a massage, “relaxation for arms, hands, and knuckles,” and a blow dry. The process is described as beginning with “scented mental relaxation,” which is “followed by the release of meridians to promote head relaxation.” It has a base price of $185.

After the public scalp shaming, I’m handed a pair of one-size-fits-most spa slides (my dainty size-11s cackled) and one of those shoulder-baring, just-got-out-of-the-shower satin-ish tube dresses with the elastic at the top. They tell me to change clothes and put my valuables in a locker. Which, OK—sure. But, like, aren’t we just doing head stuff? 

With no posted rules about how naked I am supposed to be, I have a mental flashback to the day I was at King Spa for a friend’s birthday, and we accidentally walked from the ladies’ locker room into the full-nakey massage room wearing swimsuits. A lovely woman yelled, “NO! NO CLOTHES!” as if the sight of clothing in a no-clothing space would ruin the whole experience for everyone (even though she was fully clothed) and slammed the door in our faces. 

I should be more relaxed, but my trust went out the window after Scalpgate. Confused by the whole deal, I wonder, “Do I keep my sweatpants on?” I spend a lot of time in the restroom thinking over this choice. As I gaze at the bathroom floor drain that is, for some unknown reason, covered in plastic wrap (Are we keeping things in, or are we keeping things out?), it just feels like this is, for me, a decidedly pants-on environment. 

As I leave the restroom, I’m guided to the room where the head spa-ing will occur. I mistakenly expected this to be a private room, but instead I’m led to the last station in a very large room packed with other people having their heads spa-ed. Imagine that a salon and a spa had a baby, and that that baby was super weird to look at: shampoo sinks from hair salons are butted up against massage tables. There’s a water feature, and there is instrumental spa music instead of the frenetic energy of a salon. 

Don’t think about how much big-screen scalp is in here right now. Oh, no. I thought about it. About 20. Twenty scalp-sloughings are taking place in real-time, and there are another 10 waiting in the lobby. It’s a full-throttle skin cell cemetery up in here. And is that a saxophone dance break I’m hearing? Get it, I guess?

And then they begin the process of scratching my head. I never knew I wanted someone to gently and deliberately scratch my head for an amount of time that seems much longer than makes any kind of reasonable sense, but this is great. They shampoo my hair and rinse it. Without my glasses, I can’t see anything in here, but I imagine the tiniest natural waterfall in Mansfield is rinsing it. But just as I relax and give myself over to the whole head spa adventure, steam comes up from the bottom of the sink. And then I feel it all around my face, and I hear something latch. 

I wouldn’t say I’m super claustrophobic, but I don’t like feeling trapped. Weird, I know. It’s like, I can be in an elevator, but I’m not happy about that tiny bathroom hallway at Một Hai Ba. And now it feels like they closed my entire head inside what I can only imagine is a plastic deep sea diver mask and shot it full of steam. I can’t really breathe in here. Has it been five minutes? Has it been eight days? I really have to pee, and now she’s massaging my arms while I suffocate to death, which is very confusing because it feels great, but I also am most certainly crossing the rainbow bridge RTFN. Wait—is the rainbow bridge just for cats? Why is the lady next to me talking so loudly about the bachelorette party she was at last night? Nobody cares, Midge. You’re ruining the vibe. I’m trying to die over here.

And, just like that, they sit me up, and the treatment is complete. They let me change back into my upper clothes and take me into a salon room where they use a Dyson to blow dry my hair. They hand me a paper plate with nine loose grapes and a Dixie cup of room-temperature tea. Exquisite. 

After paying $250, I walk to my car. There, knowing it is over and that I am free from the prison of nonstop ASMR scalp scratching and running water, I am flooded with relaxation and peace like I’ve never experienced in my entire life. 

So, yeah. I’d definitely go back. 



This story originally appeared in the March issue of D Magazine. Write to [email protected].

Author

Alice Laussade

Alice Laussade

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