They promise to slim your thighs, tone your midriff, eradicate cellulite and even expel harmful toxins.
But do body wraps really work?
The short answer is no, not on a long-term basis.
To really lose weight permanently, you have to follow a diet and exercise routine, and it takes time and effort to trim down from a copious size 12 to a dainty size 6. (Yeah, you knew that already.)
But as a temporary fix to help you squeeze into that figure-clenching Dior evening gown you bought six months ago that mysteriously seems to have shrunk while hanging in your closet or to help you shimmy the zipper on those too-tight jeans you wore in college, body wraps can be a quick fix.
And in today’s I-don’t-have-time-to-wait-I-need-to-look-like-Natalia-Vodianova-right-now world, body wraps are gaining popularity as a way to lose a few inches in strategic locations, albeit only for a couple days.
According to a recent study conducted by the National Council for Quality in the Spa Industry (Conaispa), body wraps are the fastest growing segment in Mexico’s booming beauty salon and spa business.
In fact, about 85 percent of spas in Mexico offer some kind of wrap. (Only facials and massages are more popular.)
So while not thoroughly convinced that being massaged with essential oils, painted in layers of mud and wrapped up in wet ace bandages like a modern-day mummy was going to do much to even out my dimpled thighs or eliminate those love handles that sprung up over the years from indulging in too many Pengüinos, I figured I would give the body wrap experience a try.
“Having a healthy body is a holistic process,” explained Idonia Vicente Salgado, owner and general director of the Mar Aqua Spa in Colonia San Ángel Inn, as she carefully massaged my body with a soft brush to help exfoliate and prepare my skin for the wrap as I lay nude on a sheeted massage table.
“The wrap will help, and you will see immediate results, but you also have to follow a healthy routine of diet and exercise. And if you want the body wrap effects to last, you have to continue the process, with at least 10 sessions over a course of about five weeks.”
(Ten sessions, at 5,000 pesos a pop, did not seem like a likely proposition in my case, so I decided that I would be appeased with a temporary fix and maybe opt to lay off the Pengüinos in the future.)
While Vicente Salgado scrubbed away at my thighs and abdomen (my target areas, since mine was only a partial wrap), her assistance provided a gentle shoulder and neck massage that was intended to help relax me and make me more receptive to the wrap treatment.
After my rubdown with the brush, Vicente Salgado applied a serum of soy and wheat germ oils, which she said would help nourish my skin and boost muscle tone.
She used a warm radiofrequency device to knead the oils deep into my skin as I lay face-down inhaling the aromatic herbal scent of the serum.
The oils seeped into my skin deliciously, and while I was still not sold on the idea that a rubdown was going to lead to a calorie countdown, I enjoyed the sensation of the infusions.
Next up was a coat of cool mud that Vicente Salgado painted on me like a layer of Sherwin-Williams, and then came the ace bandage swaddle and an extra layer of Saran Wrap to make sure the concoction would seep into my pores and nourish my dermis.
I was left in the treatment room with a warm blanket and a serenade of soft Muzak for 30 minutes so that the process could take place.
When Vicente Salgado returned with two assistants, I was washed down and then brushed with a mixture of sodium phosphate and other minerals to “seal in” the chemical treatment.
The entire process took about two hours, and while my skin definitely seemed smoother and softer, I am not really sure that my thighs were any thinner than when I first entered the spa.
“Here at Mar Aqua, we tailor our wraps to accommodate the needs of each client, but not every person is going to react the same way to a treatment,” Vicente Salgado said, perhaps aware of my doubting-Thomas stance.
There are a long list of wrap options available, with so-called slimming wraps only representing a small portion of the bill of fare in most spas.
There are also wraps intended to relieve aches and pains, boost immunity, help diminish skin diseases such as eczema and psoriasis, and generally improve skin tone.
The ingredients used in the various treatments can run the gamut of almost any natural element you can imagine — herbs, seaweed, mud, eucalyptus, chocolate and minerals.
The process by which the wraps are applied can also vary, with some wraps applied while you are lying down (as in my case) and some applied while you are in a standing position.
In theory, detoxifying wraps work through an osmosis-like process that draws out toxins.
The body, practitioners say, has lots of toxins that can build up under the skin (from food, caffeine, the environment, even stress).
These toxins, they claim, cause cellulite, excessive body fat and even illness.
Most medical professionals, however, disagree, as dermatologist Gabriela Frías Ancona, director of Grupo Médico Dermatológico and a standing member of the Mexican Counsel of Dermatologists, noted, adding that “there is no scientific basis for the claim that body wraps can detoxify your body.”
There has never been any scientific evidence that supports the claim that body wraps pull out toxins or purify your body in any way.”
— Gabriela Frías Ancona, dermatologist and director of Grupo Médico Dermatológico
Still, most people who undergo reduction wraps do seem to experience short-term benefits, whether it be a (short-lived) thinner waistline or a temporary reduction in orange skin along their thighs.
And even if the results are fleeting, the experience of being pampered and wrapped up in coddling mud and gauze is a pleasant one.
And as for that Dior dress in the closet and those too-tight jeans, well, maybe if you inhale and wear a Spanx girdle, you can still squeeze your way into them.
Otherwise, like me, lay off the Pëngüinos.
Mar Aqua Spa is located at Altavista 132 in Colonia San Ángel Inn (tel: 5550-1290).
For more information, consult its webpage at www.mar-spa.com.
Makeup with a Twist
Launched in 2014, Sisley’s Phyto-Lip Twist lip pencils became bestsellers in the space of just a year with their vibrant colors, comfortable lip care formula, imperceptible texture and glossy shine in a portable format with zebra stripes. Now the company has added six new shades to the Phyto-Lip Twist collection: Sugar, a perfect bonbon pink; Litchi, a frosted nude with hints of pink; Melon, a light, subtle orange as delicate as a peach; Poppy, a vibrant and passionate red; Love, a bold and stunning fuchsia with a hint of raspberry; and Nut, a sassy and sophisticated hazelnut that looks like a second skin. There are also four new Phyto-Eye Twist shadows.
Rich Face Cream
Forty years after it was first introduced, Yves Rocher’s Riche Crème face cream is still one of the French direct-sales cosmetic and beauty company’s best-sellers, and this year, the Yves Rocher has re-released the Riche Crème line with the addition of a special botanical oil serum packed with 30 precious oils and the concentrated oil of 1,000 roses. The cream and oil assimilate quickly into the skin to nourish and revitalize at the deepest level and help restructure cell production. Particularly suited for mature skin, Riche Crème also helps to make skin stronger and thicker through the stimulation of the increased production of collagen.
J’Adore Eau de Toilette, Christian Dior’s new take on its classic scent J’Adore, is a beautifully fresh and delicate floral. This luminous, fresh fragrance is a new, elegant, and radiant interpretation of the J’adore’s bouquet. The fragrance creates a precious, sparkling character with the essences of ylang-ylang and Turkish rose, underscored by notes of plum. Notes of Italian yellow mandarin essence, sweet neroli and heady Damascus roses mingle with layers of ylang-ylang and Turkish roses in perfect harmony in this radiant new bouquet of high perfumery. At the heart of the scent is the seductive spell of plum, and J’Adore Eau de Toilette closes with a trail of woody vanilla that lingers throughout the day and long into the night.
Lashes Are On
As part of it ongoing Love Is On makeup collection, Revlon has launched a set of five new Madonna mascaras, each with a unique brush and specifically formulated to accent lashes in accordance to particular needs. Revlon Madonna Ultra Volume makes lashes appear thinker, while Revlon Madonna Super Length makes them longer and Revlon Volume and Length Magnified adds both thickness and length. Revlon’s Dramatic Definition Mascara lifts and separates lashes without any clumps, and the Ultimate All-In-One Mascara does it all at once. All five mascaras have intense, longwear color that lasts all day without smudging.