Body wraps have been around for many centuries, dating back to the ancient cultures of Egypt, Greece and Rome. Over the last 30 years or so, with the increase of science research in the cosmetic industry, body wraps have become increasingly popular as a spa treatment.
Body wraps are both a cosmetic and therapeutic treatment that can detoxify and heal your body, remove excess fat or fluid from tissues, reduce pain in the joints, and tighten, tone, nourish and soften the skin as well.
Many people may shy away from the idea, or expense even, of a salon wrap and try a wrap treatment at home. There are many kits available which allow you to perform your own body wrap but it’s often just as easy to make a homemade body wrap using easily available natural ingredients.
When you first mention the idea of a body wrap to most people, they instantly think of upmarket spas with young professional beauticians who pamper your body as well as wrap it. Some people may feel uneasy with the idea of a stranger wrapping their entire body up, it can certainly be easier when done at home, or even fun with the help of a willing partner! Body wraps certainly aren’t cheap either when performed at a salon or spa, with the average cost of a treatment being over $100.
Flicking through the pages of any celeb gossip magazine like Cosmopolitan or Marie Claire you’ll find photos of celebs like Melanie Griffiths, Paula Abdul or Nadia Bjorlin claiming their glamorous bodies are down to wrapping themselves in organic pastes. A body wrap can be good for your body in many different ways whether you want to reduce cellulite, lose body weight or soothe sore muscles, you could even just use a body wrap as part of your detox routine.
Here’s the good news, you can perform a body wrap in the privacy of your own home which can relax, tone and remove the toxins from your body in exactly the same way a spa treatment does. Although many retailers sell pre-made body wrap kits, the ingredients for a natural body wrap are probably already in your cupboards, and if not they’re pretty easy to find.
Let’s take a more detailed look at what makes up a body wrap and how it’s designed to work (the science bit!). We’ll even recommend a few organic recipes you can make up for that homemade body wrap treatment in your own home.
What Is a Body Wrap?
A body wrap basically consists of a plastic or linen sheet wrapped around your body or specific areas of your body on top of herbal or natural ingredients. Without moving an inch, the body wrap helps your body sweat which can flush toxins from your system and reduce inches from your wrapped body. A wrap essentially works in the same way as a sauna but is argued to be more effective, with substantial results in weight and size over a shorter period of time.
Whether you have your wrap at home or in a salon/spa, it usually involves some type of skin exfoliation first to prepare the skin, followed by the application of a specific mixture or paste you choose. After the poultice is applied, the body is wrapped, normally in a plastic blanket or sheet, plastic wrap is usually used in home treatments, which promotes sweating, blood circulation and the regeneration of the skin.
If you’re a busy professional or a working mom you may feel lazy and be tempted to buy a pre-made kit. You simply apply the kit to your body and then sit or lie and sweat it out. But before you give into the lure of a store bought kit be aware that they may contain synthetic ingredients, often tend to have harsh side effects and the results rarely match those of a natural or organic homemade body wrap.
The Science Bit—How Does a Body Wrap Work?
Underneath the surface of our skin lie three layers of fat which each have individual fat cells surrounded by interstitial fluid. Insufficient exercise, ageing, diets that are high in salt or sugar and a buildup of toxins can lead to an excess of this fluid between the cells. Body wraps are made of ingredients that are designed to help draw out these excess fluids while also putting nutrients back into the body.
Toxins, chemicals or preservatives that enter our body through foods we eat or drinks we drink and the air we breathe, are normally flushed out of the system through the liver and the kidneys. But when our bodies take in more toxins than they can safely process, the extra toxins are stored in the aforementioned interstitial fluids where they’re absorbed by surrounding fat cells.
The main three types of body wraps you can choose to do at home or in the spa can all moisturize, heal and condition your skin but the primary function of each can be very different.
Often referred to by the spa industry as ‘foo-foo’ wraps, a pampering wrap is little more than a glorified massage. Some sort of mud, cream, lotion or oil is first applied to the body before being wrapped in a warm blanket and if at a spa, normally left to relax in a darkened room with candles and soothing music. (You could easily recreate this at home if you so wished.) A pampering wrap is a great way of moisturizing your skin and helping you to unwind and de-stress.
Most of the wraps used today tend to be dehydration wraps which create a certain amount of inch loss through the elimination of water in the body. If you feel bloated most of the time or have a tendency to retain too much fluid, a water elimination wrap could be ideal. Results similar to longer periods of exercise or time spent in the sauna will make you feel better for a short time but weight or inch loss in only temporary for a few days.
These wraps tend to be more effective as they encourage inch loss in two ways and detoxify the body. The wrap helps your body’s lymphatic system to draw excess toxins out of the body by stimulating a process known as lymphatic drainage. Toxins and the fatty acids from cells are released into the capillaries and flushed out with the body’s waste. (You’re often advised to drink large amounts of water to flush out the toxin, sometimes up to 64 ounces a day.) The other way these hydration wraps draw out the excess fluids and toxins is through the pores of the skin which results in an immediate and noticeable inch loss in areas of the body where large amounts of fat have built up.
The Two Stages of a Body Wrap
Body wraps work by a combination of absorption and compaction. The first stage is when you apply a mixture of substances to the body, either directly on to your skin or by a wrap which has been soaked in a solution of the substances. Absorbents can include but are not limited to clay (often sea clay), seaweed, certain types of mud, herbal mixtures, minerals or Aloe vera. How effective the wrap is will depend on the ingredients used.
Compaction is achieved by the actual body wrap itself and is a method of squeezing the tissues together after fluids and toxins have been removed. Empty pockets are left between the fat cells once the fluids have been extracted and without compression the fat layer would remain limp and relaxed. A tight wrap is used in order to prevent this limpness and compress the fat cells for a firmer and smaller appearance.
Plastic wraps that are traditionally used to induce sweating will hold the mixture you apply to the body and exert moderate pressure. More advanced bandages or wrapping techniques will allow you more control to lift and contour the body.
Common Ingredients in Homemade Body Wraps
In many body wraps clay is the most abundant ingredient. Clay is normally in powder form which mixed with water will draw out toxins and other impurities from the skin. Bentonite clay, yellow kaolin clay and pink kaolin clay are most commonly used in body wraps.
Bentonite clay in particular has oil-absorbent properties which can make it more suitable for oily skin as well as working as an exfoliant removing dead skin cells. Bentonite clay will additionally tighten your skin pores and stimulate your blood flow. Pink and yellow kaolin clays are more suited to normal or dry skin as they don’t have the same absorbent properties of bentonite.
The soluble magnesium sulfate crystals of Epsom salts are often used in more therapeutic body wraps. Absorbed into the skin, Epsom salts will restore your magnesium levels and in turn relieve stress while increasing your energy and stamina levels. Epsom salts also raise the levels of serotonin, the feel-good chemical in your body, and will help regulate your nerve functions reducing the effects of adrenalin.
A great exfoliator, adding sea salt to your wrap will remove dirt, debris and dead skin cells making room for new skin cells to develop. Sea salt additionally improves the circulation and blood flow which further revitalizes your skin.
Adding an oil like almond, olive, coconut or flaxseed oil, which you probably already have in your cupboards, will promote greater moisturizing benefits to your homemade body wrap and act as a carrier for other ingredients. Essential oils with diuretic properties like cypress, fennel, geranium, grapefruit, juniper berry or rosemary will help with water retention issues.
Seaweed, kelp or other powdered sea vegetables will absorb into your skin with the benefits of improving blood flow, draw toxins from the lymphatic glands and revitalize, smoothen and restore elasticity to the skin. Sea vegetables will additionally add nutrients to the body as they’re high in vitamins A, B, C, E, D and K as well as iodine and carotenes; essential for healthier skin. Seaweed powder is often added to wraps to beat cellulite with its high vitamin count and minerals like pantothenic acid, copper, zinc, riboflavin, folate, calcium, magnesium, manganese and iron. (Just ensure the seaweed powder is all natural.)
Other Ingredients to Include in Your Homemade Body Wrap
As you add the wrap to your body, certain herbs like ginger root, fennel seed or chamomile herbal tea will help you to relax and detoxify the skin. Gentle skin exfoliators include goat’s milk powder, whole milk powder and organic apple cider vinegar (which also boasts detoxification properties.) If you have sensitive skin it’s advisable to do a small patch test first before adding exfoliating agents.
Do Body Wraps Really Work?
Having looked at the science behind body wraps and some of the ingredients used, the big question is do they actually work? With no scientific research to back them up the easy answer would be no, body wraps don’t work and they’re just a fad (thousands of years old fad, though!). But body wraps can help detoxify the body as most of the ingredients are scientifically proven, they’ll exfoliate the skin as the exfoliators would if applied by themselves to the skin but when it comes to miracle cure gains for cellulite, weight loss or joint pain you should be more skeptical.
For weight loss, body wraps do work but the results often vary from one individual to another and it’s only a short-term weight loss solution that may remove one to two inches, only lasting a couple of months at most. As part of a regular exercise and diet program, body wraps can assist in keeping your figure looking more contoured and trim but it’s not a quick, no effort cure. When you see those glamorous celebs claiming their body beautiful is down to the amazing body wrap they don’t mention the personal trainers, private nutrition specialists or surgical options they enjoy too.
Toxins which reside in excess in the interstitial fluid around the fat cells will often thicken and harden the connective tissue just below the skin and appear as the dimpling effect known as cellulite. (Cellulite is a combination of the French words for cell and the suffix -ite, meaning disease.) There’s no cure for cellulite which affects about 90 percent of women but only a small percentage of men. Regular body wraps will remove the harmful toxins from around the fat cells and may help control your weight too which will help prevent cellulite.
Even if body wraps don’t give as good a result as you expect, they can be a great way of relaxing, destressing, detoxing the body and will leave you feeling refreshed and energized. Why not try one of these simple homemade body wraps we’ve listed below, each for different goals. There’s no need to spend all that money at a spa or salon for something you can do just as easily at home.
Effective Homemade Body Wrap Recipes
Cellulite Body Wrap
This homemade body wrap uses the powerful ingredients of clay and seaweed to combat cellulite, shift those stubborn inches and rejuvenate the body. Cellulite body wraps along with weight loss wraps are the most commonly requested wraps. A regular and consistent body wrap treatment like this recipe will help reduce and prevent any further butt dimples.
As this recipe is aimed at cellulite which typically forms on our legs, butts and hips, it’s advisable to have somebody available to help you apply the paste, especially to harder to reach areas. Ensure you cover every inch of your lower half, as any area you miss will only stand out more when you rinse off the wrap.
- 1 cup seaweed powder.
- 3 tablespoons of a carrier oil, almond or olive oil are ideal.
- 2 cups warm water or you could substitute coffee for a cellulite-busting boost. (Caffeine is known to be a powerful weapon in the fight against cellulite.)
- 2 drops of an essential oil like rosemary, juniper berry or fennel oil.
- Mix the above ingredients to form a mud-like paste.
- Smear the paste all over the lower half of your body. To avoid too much mess we recommend placing some old newspapers on the floor or standing in your tub as you apply the mixture.
- Either wrap yourself in plastic followed by bandages, with plastic increasing the heat, or wrap your lower half with bandages that have been immersed in warm water for more hydration.
- Put a blanket over yourself and relax for about an hour. After the hour take a warm, not too hot, shower to rinse off any leftover seaweed mixture.
Skinny Tight Jeans Wrap for Weight Loss
If you’re too busy or simply too lazy to hit the gym or eat healthy, body wraps will lose those extra pounds and inches of flab very quickly, even if the effects are only temporary. If those skin tight jeans show all the bulges you want to hide, a body wrap will help contour your figure. And the best part is, there are many pocket-friendly body wraps like the one below that you can do at home.
- 2 cups green tea (you could also use water, but green tea is known for its weight loss properties).
- 1 cup bentonite clay powder.
- 2 drops of a diuretic essential oil like geranium, grapefruit, juniper berry or rosemary oil.
- Mix everything together to form a paste, adding more of any ingredient if you want a different consistency. Don’t use a metal bowl or stirring implement when using bentonite, as it will react with the clay and draw out traces of metal, which you want to keep in for their powerful effects on your body.
- Apply to your lower half, and then wrap in plastic or dampened bandages as in the previous recipe. In general, body wraps are about getting hot and sweaty so using plastic will increase this, but some people may not particularly like the feel of plastic against their skin. Any bandages can be used, with latex-free, stretchable bandages being a good choice and they’re easily washable. (You can even get them with Velcro on the ends for easy tight wrapping.)
- When you’ve smeared the mixture all over your lower half and wrapped up cover yourself with a blanket and relax for at least one hour before showering. If you want more effective results you could try using a heated pad to lie on, although only use on moderate warmth. If the heat gets too uncomfortable simply stand for a few minutes before lying down again, but this time without the heated pad.
- Bentonite clay can be quite stubborn to remove, so make sure you rinse well in the shower after this treatment.
There are many different recipes available for weight loss homemade body wraps and even pre-prepared kits you can buy online or in your local store. The following Youtube video looks at a DIY body wrap that can give you an instantly flatter belly.
Detox Body Wrap
Detox is an area where homemade body wraps are very effective. Many ingredients you’ll use in a body wrap are known for their detoxification properties and often used as the proprietary ingredient in many commercially available detox plans. Only this time you’ll be topically applying the ingredients to your skin rather than taking them as a supplement orally or drinking them in a solution.
For this effective detox recipe you’ll need:
- 1 cup bentonite powder (clay).
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar. When using more harsh ingredients like vinegars, always apply a patch test to your skin first and dilute if necessary.
- 1 cup water.
- 2 drops of any diuretic essential oil of your choice. (Optional.)
- Mix the ingredients in a large bowl, again making sure it’s not metal or anything metal comes into contact with the bentonite clay, you don’t want it losing its powers. Add more water or powder until you get the thickness you prefer.
- Smear the mixture over your body before covering with plastic wrap or bandages again.
- Similar to the recipes before, cover yourself with a blanket and relax. This is an ideal body wrap to lie in a darkened room and chill, as when you rinse off the paste you will not only feel free of toxins but a calmness too.
- Ensure you rinse well after an hour or so, in a warm shower.
Epsom Salt Detox Body Wrap
If you find your skin is too sensitive to ingredients like apple cider vinegar or bentonite clay, this recipe uses Epsom salts which are much more skin friendly but just as powerful as a detox agent. In fact you don’t even apply the salts directly to your skin in this recipe, just a soaked sheet with massage oils being the only things you rub into your skin.
- 1 cup Epsom salts.
- 4 cups purified warm water. You could add a chamomile or other calming herbal tea bag to the water.
- 3 tablespoons of a carrier oil like olive oil, coconut oil or almond oil. (I tend to prefer coconut for the aroma it adds.)
- 2 drops rosemary oil essential oil.
- An old sheet (one you don’t mind throwing away after this treatment).
- Mix the 4 cups of warm water, or tea mixture, with the Epsom salts in your sink.
- When the salts are fully dissolved, soak your old sheet in the solution making sure it’s warm but not too hot.
- Mix the oils together before massaging into your body.
- Wrap the old sheet soaked in the Epsom solution around your body, leaving your arms and head free. Wrap plastic around the sheet to keep it closer to your skin surface but don’t constrict yourself too much. Bandages could also be used to keep it tighter.
- Lie down on an old blanket for an hour and keep yourself warm to naturally sweat out those toxins.
- Shower and rinse well after the wrap to remove any stray salts. You could try washing the old sheet afterwards but most people tend to throw it away.
Homemade Body Wrap to Boost Your Circulation
Thanks to the ginger and clay found in this recipe, this body wrap will help with your circulation.
- 2 tablespoons ginger root or powder for that warming effect. If you have extra sensitive skin you may wish to reduce this amount as ginger can be an irritant to some people.
- 5 tablespoons bentonite clay powder.
- 10 tablespoons warm water.
- Mix everything by hand, or in a blender for about a minute or two, until well combined. For maximum effectiveness do it manually as most blenders use metal blades that may reduce the power of the bentonite clay if it comes into contact.
- Apply to the part of your body where you wish to improve the circulation and wrap with plastic wrap.
- This is a potent wrap and should only be left on your body for 20 to 40 minutes before rinsing off, first with warm water followed by a cold water rinse.
The Caliente Body Wrap for Muscle Pain
As well as the usual inch-busting and cellulite-busting properties of a body wrap, this recipe offers more heat which may be beneficial to sore muscles, aches and pains. Be careful with the cayenne pepper as if left too long or it gets too hot can burn the skin; a look even less desirable than dreaded cellulite.
- 2 tablespoons cayenne powder. If you have extra sensitive skin you may want to stick to just 1 tablespoon and test on a small area of skin on your forearm before using.
- 10 tablespoons white clay.
- 20 tablespoons warm water.
- 2 drops of a diuretic essential oil of your choice.
- Add the cayenne powder and clay to the warm water to make a paste before adding any essential oils you want.
- Warm the paste slightly in the microwave for a few seconds, if necessary.
- Apply the mixture to the painful area and allow it to sit for 10 to 12 minutes. If you want the treatment to be even more effective you can use plastic wrap to increase the heat and sweating—but be careful as cayenne can be painful if misused.
- After the initial 10 to 12 minutes rinse or shower the mixture thoroughly off your skin. You don’t want to spend too long with the cayenne effect!
Relaxation Body Wrap
Sometimes we want to do little more than just relax, a good period of relaxation can also be healing. Not to worry about cellulite, weight loss or detox, just to sit in our own little place and chill out. Fortunately nature has provided us with many natural herbs that have a calmative and restorative effect like chamomile used in this recipe for a relaxing body wrap.
For the ultimate relaxation homemade body wrap you’ll need:
- 5 chamomile tea bags.
- 1 liter warm water.
- 50 milliliters olive oil or almond oil.
- 2 drops lavender essential oil.
- 2 drops rosemary essential oil.
- Some old sheets or bandages.
- Put 3 cups of boiling water into your sink and float the chamomile tea bags in it to steep. (Try not to use a white ceramic sink as the tea can stain.)
- When the tea has colored the water, soak the old sheets or blankets in it, adding more warm water if necessary to dampen them completely.
- Mix the olive or almond oil with the essential oils and massage into your body.
- Take the sheets or bandages and wrap around your body leaving your arms and head free and exposed.
- Wrap with plastic afterwards to keep the sheet closer to your body.
- Lie down on some old towels or a blanket, even wrapping yourself up in them to keep warm.
- Relax for 40 minutes. This is the ideal time to light those mood candles, put on some soothing music and turn the lights down low.
- After 40 minutes, unwrap and rinse off any remaining mixture or oils with a warm shower.
Homemade Body Wrap Vs Spa Treatment
Many people go to a spa for their first body wrap to see if it’s really worth it. Although you may feel you get a better more professional job done at the spa, it’ll feel really weird to have a stranger wrapping you in plastic. (Definitely don’t go after watching Twin Peaks with Laura Palmer wrapped in plastic, that would be too freaky)! And unless you’re really body confident, you may not relish the idea of being wrapped up like a bit of sushi with all those extra bits squashed up and on view to see.
Even if you don’t have a problem with that type of contact, spas can be quite expensive, often charging $100 to $200 a session, which may not be a problem if you’re an A-list Hollywood star but for most, a regular body wrap session could become an expensive habit. A homemade body wrap by comparison will normally cost under $20, with most of the ingredients already found in your house. As long as you follow certain rules, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t get the same, if not better, results at home with your DIY homemade body wrap as you would at any spa or salon.
Tips to Ensure You Get the Most from Your Homemade Body Wrap
Always Prepare the Skin First
Before first applying a body pack or wrap, take a shower and exfoliate away the dead skin. Getting rid of this dead skin, especially from the area where you’re going to apply the wrap, will help the skin absorb all the goodness of the paste and flush out more toxins. A good homemade scrub made with orange peel powder, rice flour, lime juice, olive oil and gram flour mixed with water can be a great exfoliator.
Use the Best Ingredients
If you want to see those extra inches shrink and that cellulite disappear, you simply must use 100 percent organic ingredients only. Many pre-made wraps that you buy can be laden with inferior ingredients which will be less effective. Nothing beats organic and natural when it comes to weight loss and healing.
Body wraps will make you sweat, that’s what helps you shrink the fat cells and flush toxins from your body. It’s important to keep yourself well hydrated by drinking at least 750 milliliters to 1 liter of water before wrapping yourself up, and keep a glass of water nearby so you can sip from if you start feeling too dry while wrapped. Adding berries, cucumber or mint to flavor the water will further add nutrients to your body. Drinking water after a wrap will help flush out any excess toxins that may have been left behind, especially those in the lymphatic glands.
Apply the Mixture Sparingly
Always apply a thin layer when using clay or seaweed otherwise things can quickly get messy and the paste won’t be as effective on your body or skin. In addition, you’ll save money too.
Apply the Mixture Warm
For maximum efficiency you should always apply when as warm as possible to promote sweating and open the pores up, just be careful not to burn yourself, especially if using cayenne.
Cover as Much as You Can
Avoid leaving too much skin exposed when going for a full body wrap, keep everything covered even your knees. When you take the wrap off you’ll find cellulite or excess fat that is left is even more noticeably visible. (When wrapping the legs, only extend as high as the groin, avoiding the more sensitive areas.)
No matter how effective you think your wrap has been and how good your body looks, you need to implement a consistent body wrap routine and stick with it for the best results.
If you know you have sensitive skin, always perform a spot or patch test before using a new body wrap recipe for the first time. Light tingling or warmth is normal, but if you feel any discomfort especially stinging or burning stop and immediately rinse the mixture from your skin.
This guide is for educational purposes only, if you have any medical problems like cardiovascular disease, circulation issues, celiac disease, diabetes or hypertension then check with a doctor first. Don’t perform a body wrap if you’re pregnant, menstruating or constipated, and wraps definitely aren’t meant for children.
Now we’ve looked at homemade body wrap recipes, why not give it a try, just don’t expect overnight miracles. Try to listen to what your body’s telling you before, during and after the body wrap before measuring to see that difference in inches. This is just a guide, simply go with what your gut tells you (even if that’s the bit you’re trying to get rid of!).