What Is a Vichy Shower?

Isabella Spa's Vichy Shower

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A Vichy shower is a way of getting a shower while laying down on a wettable as part of a body treatment, such as a salt scrub, body mask, or body wrap. Instead of jumping up and getting in a stand-up shower to rinse off the salt or mud, you simply lie there. It truly feels wonderful, so when you visit a spa that has a Vichy shower, you should definitely try it out. Some spas that offer Vichy showers include Kohler Waters Spa in Kohler, Wisconsin, and Mirror Lake Inn & Spa in Lake Placid, NY.

What Does a Vichy Shower Look Like? 

A Vichy shower is a form of hydrotherapy. It has multiple shower heads -- five, six, or seven -- attached to a horizontal bar that is suspended about three feet above your body. When the water is turned on, it cascades over the entire length of your body and spills onto the tiled floor, where it drains away.  Some special wet tables have channels to help drain away the water. The Vichy shower might be attached to the wall, or freestanding. The therapist usually turns the water on and adjust the temperature while it's away from the treatment table. Once it's the right temperature and pressure, he/she will swing it over your body. The cascade of water feels delicious!

Kohler Waters Spa

The protocols for Vichy showers differ, but American spas generally make a Vichy shower part of a body treatment or a more extended signature service. At Kohler Waters Spa, for instance, the 80-minute Magnificent Wrap starts off with a dry body brushing. Next, you soak in a tub for 15 minutes, dry off, then get back up on the table for the application of a body mask. 

Once the body mask is on, the therapist gives you a scalp massage. Next, she turns on the Vichy shower and removes the body mask by wearing gentle black scrubbing gloves and rubbing your skin as the water poured over you. After you're exfoliated, you have to get off the table, dry off, then get back on the clean table for the application of a remineralizing body cream. (Note the word application -- that means, it's not a massage.)

During a Vichy shower, you are usually draped with towels -- one between your legs and for women, one across your breasts. You can wear disposable underwear. When you're on your back, the therapist might put something over your face to minimize the water spray in your face.

If you're anxious about nudity, this is probably not the treatment for you. Turning over with wet towels tends to be a little sloppy. Check the spa menu to see if they have a Vichy shower as part of their body treatments, or ask the receptionist. Large day spas, resort spas, and destination spas usually have a Vichy shower, but a small local day spa probably won't.

The Origin

The Vichy shower originated in Vichy, France, a traditional spa town with thermal springs. In the original Vichy shower, the client would lie on a horizontal wet table while a steady stream of warm Vichy mineral water along the length of his or her body. At the same time, two therapists -- one on each side -- performed a massage. You can still get this four-handed Vichy shower in Vichy. 

American spas have adapted the original treatment, using regular water, more water coming from multiple shower heads and just one therapist. It is usually part of a longer signature treatment, in part because it's so much work to clean up the room between clients.

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