Along with massages and facials they make up the holy trinity of spa services—but what exactly are body wraps about? Back in the day, wraps or body wraps became popular for their supposed weight loss properties, even though the (temporary) inches people dropped from those rudimentary procedures (think tight Ace bandages, heat conducting plastic sheets and lots of sweat) were ultimately just due to a flushing out of water weight.
But since then, wraps have come a long way, and today they appear on menus to help with everything from sunburned skin to all-over detoxification. Most spa menus boast wraps in three categories: hydrating, stimulating and detoxifying. The hydrating options typically begin with a dry brushing of the body to slough off dead skin, followed by an application of a moisturizing agent like aloe vera, creme or a mix of herbal oils. Clients are then wrapped up in warm blankets and left to marinate; once the balms have sunken in, you’re unwrapped, dried off, then lightly massaged with a final dose of hydrating lotion. Relaxing and pampering, these wraps are useful both post-summer to soothe sun-worn skin, and in winter, when skin’s in need of a hydrating boost.
Designed to boost circulation, reduce cellulite and increase the metabolism, stimulating wraps typically make use of mineral-rich marine-based products like algae and seaweed. These pastes are applied all over the body (or, for more intense treatment, just in targeted areas), then clients are wrapped up in foils or plastic sheets, then sometimes topped with more heavy blankets (clients are typically wrapped more tightly in stimulating wraps, to help increase circulation.) Once the minerals have had a chance to do their magic, you’re washed off—often under a Vichy shower or on a wet table—then doused with a light moisturizer. Some spas pair stimulating body wraps with seaweed baths or jet tub soaks for more concentrated re-mineralization.
Increased circulation is also a goal of the detoxifying wraps, which use muds, clays or herb-soaked sheets to draw out impurities from the body. Though some of the post-wrap effects might include a reduction of inches or a tightening of cellulite-prone areas , detoxifying wraps are primarily about cleansing the body from the inside out, pulling out toxins and leaving skin soft and supple as an added bonus. Most of these services use Moor or Dead Sea mud, rich bentonite, green or red clays, or a potent herb mixtures, all of which act as magnets for toxins but also are packed with their own healing properties. Moor mud, for example, contains over 1,000 plant extracts and trace elements that make it great for detoxification, easing joint pain and arthritis, soothing stomach problems and chronic skin conditions. In detoxifying body wraps, the client is painted with these muds and clays (or engulfed in sheets soaked in herb solutions) and wrapped semi-tightly; once the potions have hardened and dried; they’re then washed off in a shower and / or sloughed off with a wet towel. Skin is left glowing and refreshed.
Be sure to check with your therapist about what type of wrap is best for you, and follow his/her after-care instructions about getting rest and drinking lots of water.