Body Wraps

Everything You Need To Know About Body Wraps

body wrap
••• In this body wrap, a mud has been applied to the body and the guest wrapped in plastic and a warm blanket. Matthew Wakem/Getty Images

Even experienced spa-goers don't understand body wraps.  Different body wraps serve different purposes, and it's important to understand the difference between detox, hydrating and slimming wraps so you get the experience you want. First, body wraps always start with some kind of exfoliation.  At the very least, there will be a dry body brushing.  However, a dry body brushing is not nearly so effective as a body scrub.

 Because you want the product they put on your skin to be able to penetrate the skin as deeply as possible, make sure the body wrap includes a body scrub first.   A body brushing just isn't enough.   There are three kinds of body wraps:

Detoxing and remineralizing body wraps

Detox wraps use a variety of products such as algae, seaweed, mud, clay or gel to help rid the body of toxins.  When the product is applied to the body, it's called a body mask.  Then you are wrapped in plastic and covered with a blanket for about 20 minutes, which is the body wrap.  These products work by stimulating your circulation, drawing out impurities, and giving your body minerals it might be missing.  Afterwards, the body mask is washed off and you may get an "application of lotion," which means it's not a massage, and can be performed by an esthetician.

Who should get a detox body wrap:  Save this for when you really are making changes in your diet and trying to reduce your toxic load.

 These clays, muds and seaweeds may be natural, but they are effective....and expensive!   Don't have a detox wrap and then go eat a T-bone and four martinis.  It will make you feel worse rather than better, and you've wasted your money.

Hydrating body wraps

 Hydrating body wraps use creams and gels to soften, soothe and hydrate the skin.

  Again, it's important to get a body scrub beforehand so the rich cream doesn't sit on the outermost dead skin cells.   Usually the spa will use a super-luxurious body cream from its line.  I remember a hydrating body wrap with Babor ACE Body Cream that was particularly wonderful.  Generally with a hydrating wrap, the therapist just massages in the body cream.  You don't want to wash it off.

Who should get a hydrating body wrap:  You're out on the ski slopes.  It's the middle of winter.  You take off your jeans and watch the white flakes fly.  It's time to exfoliate and hydrate!  Aloe vera wraps (popular in the Caribbean) can also help your skin recover from too much time in the sun.  

Slimming wraps

Slimming wraps are a labor-intensive specialty that aren't found everywhere.   Suddenly Slimmer in Phoenix is one spa that specializes in them, hence the name.  For a slimming wrap, each limb is tightly wrapped in Ace bandages that have been soaked in a high-concentration mineral solution to detox and remineralize the body.  You look a little bit like the mummy once you're wrapped.  You can walk around, exercise (Suddenly Slimmer recommends this) or spend some time in an infra-red spa.   You are measured before and after so you can tell how many inches you lost.

 

Who should get a detox body wrap:  The effect is temporary, but it's good if you want to look fantastic for a wedding.  And if you get them once or twice a week, the effect is longer lasting! 

What Happens During A Body Wrap?

A body wrap should begin with exfoliation, and a salt scrub or body polish is much superior to dry brushing.  You lie down on whatever you will eventually be wrapped in – often plastic or mylar, but sometimes towels or sheets.

My personal preference is for a massage therapist to do the body wrap, because they naturally incorporate massage techniques as they apply the product.  But most spas give the stand-alone body treatments to esthetician, to keep them busy.  You might have to get a signature treatment to be able to get a massage therapist.  

Once the product is on, you’re wrapped to stay warm, usually for 20 minutes.

Oftentimes the therapist leaves the room, but sometimes they stay and give you a scalp massage (much better, in my opinion!)

When the time is up, you’re unwrapped and the body mask has to come off. This is why they often take place in wet rooms, equipped with a shower, wet table, or Vichy shower. You might either jump in a shower or the therapist will rinse you off with a handheld shower or a special Vichy shower that feels absolutely fabulous. It’s like taking a shower lying down. Then you dry off, and there’s usually an application of lotion to moisturize your skin.

Things To Watch Out For With a Body Wrap

* Don’t expect a body wrap to be a massage. You can get both treatments – body wrap and massage -- or look for signature treatments that include scrub, body wrap and massage.

* If you have claustrophobia, this may not be the right treatment for you.

* You might be left alone during the treatment. If that bothers you, ask before you book the service.

Body wrap treatments are sometimes called a body cocoon or body mask. Body wraps often make an appearance in signature spa treatments, which might start with a scrub, move on to a wrap, and finish with a massage.