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Anitra Brown

The Face-Slapping Spa

By November 13, 2012

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Here's a new spa treatment making the rounds as a light-hearted feature on local news shows and even Good Morning America It's called face-slapping, and you can see why the producers love it.  Spas are supposed to be relaxing, so face-slapping is naturally funny.

Face slapping is offered at Tata Massage in San Francisco and costs $350 for 15 minutes -- for one-half of the face!   Why so expensive? Tata Massage positions it as a "natural face lift" -- an alternative to plastic surgery and Botox, which puts it in another price category. The treatment is supposed to last six months.

Another factor in the high price: Tata, a licensed massage therapist, is the only person in the Western hemisphere trained in this "secret" technique. "It is from ancient Thai wisdom that is passed down from generation to generation," says Tata's husband, Mawin. Tata learned from her teacher, Kung Khemika Na Songkhla, who calls it "face patting," a name that wouldn't get nearly as much media attention in the U.S.

Tata treats half the face in part so the customer can see the difference, but none of the reporters in the three news stories I watched (two men and a 21-year-old woman) could tell there was any difference. It would be more interesting if they sent a forty-something woman.

A traditional facial massage does many of the same things that "face-slapping" does -- increases circulation while relaxing, toning and lifting facial muscles. Since I'm a spa junkie I would be interested in trying this treatment if it were reasonably priced, but at $350 for half a face? No, thank you.

I predict other Thai spas and salons will quickly add face-slapping to their menus, and it will be a lot cheaper. Next up on the Tata Massage menu? Butt punching. In the U.S., they wouldn't be allowed to offer Kung Khemika Na Songkhla's other signature treatment -- breast punching, a treatment that is supposed to increase breast size (hmmmm...)

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