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It’s a Wrap! Body Wraps 101


It’s a Wrap! Body Wraps 101

Not a miracle, but it can work… sort of.

Body wraps can either be homemade, purchased, or enjoyed in a spa.  Many of the ingredients used in body wrap spa treatments can be found in your kitchen or herb garden. Ingredients such as olive oil, butter, honey, salt, rosemary, chamomile, chocolate, and Aloe Vera are, but a few ingredients used to make various types of body wraps. Many of these body wraps are promoted by spas as stress reducing, relaxing, or moisturizing treatments. While some body wraps are marketed as; detoxifying, body slimming or a way to control cellulite… these marketing claims may be a stretch.

What Exactly Is a Body Wrap?

Decades ago when body wraps were first offered, they were called herbal wraps, and linen sheets were used to wrap your body according to Susie Ellis, president of SpaFinder, Inc., an industry group based in New York. “‘Body wraps’ is a term that came to mean more than herbal wraps,”‘ says Ellis, adding that body wraps became popular in the 1980s and 90s. Now, plastic or thermal blankets have replaced the linen sheets.

Of course, not all spas are the same, but body wraps are often done in a dimly lit room with plenty of candles for ambiance, soothing music with the client on a massage table layered with thermal blankets on the bottom to keep warm.

The body wrap procedure starts with a body scrub that is rinsed off before applying the wrap products. The wrap products are applied in thin layers wrapping body parts systematically. Once you are entirely wrapped, an electric thermal blanket is pulled over you. The heat from the blanket is typically hot enough to make you sweat for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes of wrap time, you are cooled down, slowly.

After your cool down period, the final step is to rinse and apply lotion. Many clients find the procedure to be relaxing with smooth skin as the outcome.

As mentioned earlier, some spas claim that their body wraps will produce weight loss, cellulite reduction or detoxify your body.

Can a Body Wrap Detox my Body?

This claim has not been scientifically supported. “There’s never been any real scientific evidence that body wraps pull out toxins or purify your body in any way,” Elizabeth Tanzi, MD, a Washington, D.C. dermatologist, says.

Sandra Fryhofer, MD, and past president of the American College of Physicians, concurs. She stated, “I don’t know of any scientific basis for the detox.”

The degree of “detox” depends on the spa. Some spas claim that the act of sweating detoxifies your skin of impurities and not your liver or kidneys.

Dr. Tanzi says that might be true, but it depends on the product. “There are some benefits too say, a clay body treatment,” she says. “Those can pull out some impurities in the skin and the pores.”

Dr. Tanzi has successfully used a clay-based mask for acne patients. But be leery of any detox claims beyond that, doctors say.

Can a Body Wrap Make You Slimmer?

The short answer is yes, but any loss of inches or weight is going to be temporary according to Dr. Fryhofer. ”Wraps cannot take the place of a healthy diet and exercise.” Ellis agrees with this assessment. “After you take the slimming wrap off, there will be an appearance of tightness,” she says. “It is definitely temporary.” It may only last a day or two.

If you are trying to look your best for a special occasion or just need a temporary improvement than a slimming wrap may work for you. Ellis says, “I look at those slimming wraps like a spray tan, “It’s temporary, but sometimes that’s OK.”

As for weight loss, “they won’t give you long-term weight loss,” Dr. Tanzi says. “They can temporarily make you feel a little thinner, and when you look at the scale the pounds can go down a pound or two. But that’s water weight loss. It’s a temporary phenomenon.”

Can a Body Wrap Rid You of Cellulite?

A cellulite wrap may improve the skin’s appearance by plumping it up. But according to Ellis, cellulite body wraps won’t take away the dimpled skin “the appearance can be better, but even the best cellulite wrap ”does not suck out fat.”

Bottom Line

Know what ingredients are in your wrap, especially if you have sensitive skin. Try to avoid wraps with a lot of fragrant oils as they may irritate your skin. Also if you are taking any prescription medication ask your doctor if the ingredients in the wrap will interfere with your medication. Herbals can be absorbed through the skin and potentially affect some medications.

If you are looking for a way to moisturize your skin with short term appearance improvements, than a body wrap may be just what you need.

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