Ask yourself this: Does your body feel relaxed? Is your skin smooth and firm? Does it give off a healthy glow? If the answer to any of those questions is no, maybe it’s time to consider a body treatment. Whether you’re being wrapped in seaweed or massaged with an energizing scrub, these soothing treatments simply feel good. What’s more, they offer health and beauty benefits and give you a chance to let out a much-needed ahhh — something we all need from time to time.
Once you’ve chosen a therapy that appeals to you (you’ll find there’s no shortage of options), talk to your practitioner before your treatment to share any physical body issues or discomfort you’re experiencing. Let her know if you’re pregnant and tell her about any medications you’re taking; this will help her avoid using ingredients that you might be sensitive to. And if something doesn’t feel right during your treatment, don’t hesitate to speak up.
BENEFITS OF BODY TREATMENTS
BODY SCRUB This treatment is all about exfoliation. Your therapist will vigorously rub you from your shoulders down to your feet (speak up if you’d like her to skip a certain area, like your stomach) with a grainy mixture, often including ingredients like sugar, salt or coffee grounds, which slough off dead skin. The friction also helps improve circulation and leaves you feeling energized. Most body scrubs end with a short massage that includes moisturizing oils, butters or creams that can penetrate more deeply after the exfoliation has done its work.
TIP: Consider forgoing shaving before a scrub as it can irritate freshly shaved skin. Avoid the treatment altogether if you have a sunburn or any open cuts or wounds.
BODY MASK Just like a facial mask, a body mask is a thick paste or cream made from minerals, plants, fruits and other natural elements (think: clay or mud) that detoxifies and firms your skin by drawing out impurities and absorbing excess oil. It’s generously applied all over your body and left to dry for about 20 to 30 minutes. The mask you choose may feature ingredients designed to address specific concerns; for instance, caffeine, which can increase circulation and reduce the appearance of cellulite, may be added to a body mask. Or a treatment might include alpha hydroxy acids, which aid in repairing sun damage and combating the signs of aging.
TIP: Consider these other Natural Solutions for Clean Skin, like oatmeal baths and mineral soaks, to rid skin of impurities.
BODY WRAP This treatment is similar to a body mask, with the added step of having your body wrapped in sheets, seaweed, Mylar® or another “cocooning” material after a mask is applied. The idea is to raise your body temperature, which boosts circulation, opens pores and helps the mask to better absorb into your skin.
TIP: If you’re claustrophobic you may want to skip this treatment as it doesn’t allow you to move freely.
DRY BRUSHING This ancient technique involves brushing your skin with a natural bristle brush (synthetic materials can be too harsh) without any moisture or water. The brushing removes dead skin, boosts circulation, flushes out toxins and even improves the appearance of cellulite. Your therapist will start at your feet, working up your body and brushing in circular motions towards your heart, which encourages natural lymphatic flow, the body’s system for boosting immunity and keeping fluids in balance. If you’re receiving another treatment that includes water or products—like a body mask, wrap or massage—expect your dry brushing session to come first.
TIP: Learn how to use a dry brush and other devices, like a bath mitt and Clarisonic® brush, at home in Our 8 Essential Beauty Tools roundup.
MASSAGE The health benefits of massage are many, from improving circulation and lymphatic drainage to easing pain and reducing stress. You’re likely to find that a massage will enable you to relax and let go as your therapist works to soothe your muscles and address any specific concerns you’ve shared. There’s no shortage of different types of massage: Opt for a deep tissue or sports massage if you want to ease muscle stiffness and joint pain; a shiatsu massage, which focuses on pressure points, helps bring your body back into balance; a reflexology massage may reduce headache pain and other aches; and a traditional Swedish massage boosts circulation.
TIP: Gather some recommendations and follow the tips in our article on Choosing a Qualified Massage Therapist. Plus, learn How to Give a Good Massage so you can offer relief to someone in need of a soothing rub.
DIY BODY TREATMENTS
The easiest treatments to do at home are body scrubs. While a body wrap would be challenging to do on your own, you can apply a store-bought or homemade mask once or twice a week before running the water in the shower. Try this body mask recipe:
Ground 1 tablespoon dry oatmeal and combine with 1 tablespoon honey and ½ teaspoon olive oil. Apply to your skin and let it sit for 15 minutes before rinsing.