Alternative Eastern beauty treatments are taking over the KC spa scene

Photo courtesy of Spa on Penn.

In thinking of all the yummy Korean food around KC for this issue, I got to thinking about my time living in Los Angeles and the wonderful Korean spa experiences I had there.

While KC might not have a plethora of Korean spas, there are many spas offering similar Eastern beauty techniques for relaxation and rejuvenation of skin, body and energies, including wet and dry saunas and amenities like skin treatments and massages.

Here’s our guide to our favorite alternative beauty treatments available at local KC spas to bring Korean spa vibes to Missouri. 

Day spa water services

What makes a Korean day spa experience different from traditional spas is that a Korean spa will typically be a several-hour or nearly all-day experience focused on bathing, steam and water cleansing.

“We are a true day spa—there aren’t really a lot of those in KC, especially since the pandemic,” says Shannon Willis, owner of Spa on Penn. “A true, bona-fide day spa will have water services. We have a steam shower, rain shower, hydrotherapy tub and sauna.” 

Spa on Penn’s special soaking tubs are also unique. “There are different herbal, plant-based soaps for different things,” Willis says. “In wintertime, we will use a eucalyptus one for when people have colds or aren’t feeling well to energize the body. And the body is absorbing these products in the tub.”

There’s a soothing milk bath with coconut and tropical flowers, scrubs followed by steam and totally immersive body wraps like the French Red Clay mud wrap or a Dead Sea mud wrap.

Infrared saunas

“The sauna is infrared, which is an invisible light spectrum that we receive from the sun’s natural rays,” Hand and Land spa co-owner Jessica Moler says. “It differs from a traditional sauna because it’s a little gentler. I find that it’s a little bit more tolerable for people. The [infrared sauna] has so many benefits. It’s great for pain relief—it penetrates deeply into the tissue. It helps joints and muscles, anything from minor pains to more chronic issues. It can help lower blood pressure, and sweating in general is the body’s natural way to detoxify itself.”

The sauna experience can be enhanced with chromotherapy, or color therapy, which uses specific colors to adjust bodily vibrations and promote overall balance and wellness. Spa patrons are encouraged to choose a color they feel most drawn to in order to restore various energy points to help balance the body. For example, red is often used to enhance metabolism and energize heart and blood circulation, and blue is used for anti-inflammatory and muscle-relaxing effects.


Acupuncture has been used for more than two-thousand years in Eastern medicine to treat a slew of health problems by inserting tiny needles into various points in the skin. 

“Sessions with our acupuncturist are based on the individual’s needs, whatever they have going on—for stress or pain management, hormonal issues, women trying to regulate their cycles or to reduce PMS symptoms,” Moler says. “Cosmetic acupuncture is also a popular alternative to Botox.”

Hand and Land Spa offers energy work or sound therapy with the service, using Reiki, tuning forks and crystal singing bowls for added healing.

Along with acupuncture, cupping therapy is one of the oldest methods used to release body toxins. “Cupping is going to move stagnation and move the lymphatic fluid up and out,” Moler says. It brings the toxins from the body up and out through the skin using special cups pressed on the skin to create suction.  

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