Detox, Relax or Rejuvenate
For many people, the idea of wrapping their body in fabric and herbs invokes images of ancient embalming rituals that once prepared Egyptian royalty for the hereafter. But for those who have experienced the benefits of modern-day body wraps, dipped in mixtures of clay, salt, herbs, essential oils and wetting agents, the vision is likely one of radiant health here and now.
Many spas today advertise body wraps for their ability to take off inches and reshape the waist, thighs, abdomen and buttocks. But at the base of this feat is the wrap’s capacity to extract toxins from the fluid between fat cells. It works because drawing toxins out through pores in the skin leaves empty pockets between fat cells, which are compressed by the wrapping bandages.
Toxins can accumulate due to age, illness, medication, stress, improper diet, smoking, drinking, weight loss and lack of exercise. “Unfortunately, such toxins cannot be removed by diet or exercise,” explains Wendy Robbins, of FromNatureWithLove.com. “So, a series of wraps is one of the best ways to periodically relieve the body of this burden.” Companies like hers sell body wrapping ingredients and accessories to spas and individuals.
A spa wrap provides nice pampering. But a do-it-yourself wrap at home will work as well, advises Robbins. Repeated use of body wraps, following easy guidelines, makes their healthy benefits available to all.
“The first couple of wraps are just part of the learning curve,” notes Robbins. Though a wrap doesn’t need to have many ingredients to be effective, she suggests choosing them to fit a purpose—detoxification, relaxation or rejuvenation. Recommended ingredients are available in health food stores or on the Internet. (Google ‘body wrap recipes’, or ‘DIY body wrap’ for kits.)
Simple wraps should include two cups of a clay (selected for a particular skin type) plus one cup of either Epsom salt or Dead Sea salt, rich in potassium, magnesium and bromide. More complex wraps add a cup of a nutritious powdered or dried herb and essential oils. For instance, green tea leaf, rich in polyphenols, is used for its powerful antioxidant properties, known to rejuvenate skin.
A dozen different clays, categorized for skin types, all pull oils from the skin and act as detoxifiers and exfoliates. Dead Sea clay, for example, is particularly rich in minerals and suitable for all skin types, while French green clay, also mineral and phytonutrient rich, is not recommended for sensitive or dry skin types. Green illite clay is specifically used for detoxification and exfoliation, but is only suitable for oily skin types. Pink kaolin, on the other hand, is super gentle and suitable for all skin types. Reading descriptions of properties and recommended uses will lead to a wise choice.
Experts write that proper hydration is essential when preparing for a wrap at home or at a spa. Drinking plenty of water before, during and after the application helps boost the detoxification process. Key steps are to:
• Select a room where it’s easy to turn up the heat or stay warm and ensure privacy for at least 60 minutes. Choose a spot where it’s easy to clean up afterwards.
• Dry brush the skin with a natural bristle body brush; then, take a warm shower to open pores. Avoid shaving before a wrap.
• Boil a half-gallon (64 oz.) of distilled water, remove from heat and place in a stainless steel pot. Add planned ingredients to the water and steep for 10 to 15 minutes.
• Allow the mixture to become cool to the touch before dipping in strips of cotton sheets or six-inch cotton/elastic body wrap bandages, one at a time.
• Wrap the entire body, beginning at the ankles, or choose specific body areas to treat, using mini-wraps. Following a session, unwrap, properly dispose of materials, and take a cool or lukewarm bath. As a final step, take a hot bath two to three days later to open pores and release accumulated toxins from the skin.
Body wraps are good for reducing the appearance of cellulite, which adds to their popularity in swimming suit season. Many spas’ cellulite-reducing wraps use seaweed clay to soften and tone skin. Whether we elect to pamper ourselves or have someone else do it, body wraps make a fine addition to any good health regimen.