A body mask is the application of a product over your whole body, with the intention to deliver a therapeutic effect, such as hydration, remineralizing, or detoxification. The idea is that, just like the skin on your face benefits from a facial mask during a professional facial, so does the skin on the rest of your body benefit from a body mask.
In the spa, a body mask always starts with some kind of exfoliation, typically a body scrub, which is the most thorough way to get rid of your flaky dead skin cells.
Sometimes the spa will substitute a dry body brushing, which feels good but is not as thorough. A body scrub is superior is because you want the therapeutic mask to be able to penetrate the skin as much as possible.
After the exfoliation, the mask is applied to both sides of the body. In a spa you are usually wrapped up in plastic and a blanket -- a body wrap -- while the products do their work. Occasionally you might find a spa that has an infrared lamp to keep you warm without being covered, but that is relatively rare.
One sign of a good facial is when the esthetician stays in the room with you during the body mask or warp, giving you a scalp massage or foot massage that enhances your experience.
What's In a Body Mask?
Body masks contain ingredients such as:
- clay or mud, which are detoxifying. They help draw oil and dirt to the surface of the skin. Clay, kaolin or bentonite for their tightening effects.
- seaweed or algae, which are remineralizing
- aloe vera, which is soothing, especially for sunburned skin
- shea butter or body creams, which are rich and moisturizing.
In a spa, most of these body masks are commercially made. That means there will also be synthetic ingredients you might not want. Glyceryl Stearate and PEG-100 Stearate are emulsifiers that hold water and oil together; dimethicone is a silicone-base polymer. Personally, I like to steer clear of chemicals, which is why I was so delighted by my mud body mask in Ischia, Italy.
Can I Make My Own Body Mask?
It is possible, but it's not as easy to give yourself a home body mask as it is to home spa treatments like body scrubs and face masks. The staple ingredients of body masks -- bentonite clay and algae, for instance -- are harder to find, more expensive and messier to work with.
Spas give the treatments in wet rooms that have showers, tiled floors and drains that can take whatever goes down them. They drape plastic over a massage table in a very warm room for you to lie on, then neatly wrap you up. And someone is literally massaging your head, which makes the time go fast.
It's just not the same to put a blanket and plastic in the tub and crawl in for 20 minutes. Then there's the question of what is going down the drain.
Take a Therapuetic Bath Instead
An easier way to deliver the benefits of a body mask is to give yourself a thorough body scrub, then take a warm bath with a product like Spa Technologies has a great Green Algae Bath Powder.
Harvested off the coasts of Brittany, France and Iceland, the green algae promotes slimming and detoxification regimens while nourishing your skin with vital minerals and trace elements.
You can then follow with an application of Bio-Active Slimming Lotion, made with seawater, seaweed, algae, essential oils and virgin coconut butter. A few other options are the Hydrating Laminaria Oil, Seaweed Firming Cream, and Body Hydration with Porphyra Red Algae -- all excellent products. They are not inexpensive, but once you invest in them you can get several at-home treatments.
A less expensive way to go would be to skip the seaweed, which has detoxifying and remineralizing qualities. Instead, give yourself a body scrub, follow with a warm bath with essential oils, and finish with something like All Good Coconut Oil with Lemongrass, which is an excellent 100% organic hydrator.
Take your time to thoroughly massage it in.
A honey mask for the face sounds fine, but do you really want to have that all over your body?
A body mask takes place after exfoliation during a professional body treatment. Facial masks treat your particular skin type or condition. If you're dry or dehydrated, the facial mask should hydrate your skin. If your skin is red or inflamed, the mask should calm and soothe. If your skin is oily and congested, the facial mask can help draw out impurities from the skin.