Petroleum-based paraffin wax is used in salons and spas to soften and soothe skin, most often on the hands and feet, and sometimes on arms and legs. Your hands are submerged in the warm liquid wax of a paraffin hand spa, and the wax then hardens slightly on your skin and is removed after a few minutes. The paraffin wax helps deep-moisturize and condition the skin on your hands, and your nails and cuticles.
The paraffin wax used in spa treatments acts as an emollient, which helps trap moisture in the skin. Once the paraffin has been rubbed or peeled away, rough hands and dry cuticles are left soft and moisturized. Salons often use the wax spa as a soothing pretreatment to a manicure.
Paraffin wax is solid at room temperature but melts at temperatures from 116 to 147 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat from a wax spa also helps temporarily soothe aching joints and increase circulation, which gives hands a more youthful appearance. The spa's heat has a relaxing effect, helping calm and relieve stress in the same way a warm bath does. Some paraffin spas include scented oils, such as lavender and tea tree, for the additional benefit of aromatherapy.