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Bringing Out the Best With Body Wraps

By: Desiree Mattox
Posted: October 27, 2010, from the November 2010 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

Body wraps have gained popularity in recent years as a way to quickly lose inches in all the right places; however, there has been considerable controversy as to whether they actually work in this way. On the other hand, little attention has been paid to the use of body wraps as skin care treatments. Using the same methods of body wrapping, treatments can be developed for dry skin, eczema, psoriasis, anti-aging and many other skin conditions. The key to such services is incorporating ingredients that are proven to give the results claimed.

Exfoliation and massage

Most body wrap services begin with exfoliation in order to make the skin ready for the next steps. Exfoliation is the process of mechanically or chemically removing dead skin cells that allows younger, fresher cells to come to the surface. These younger cells are better able to accept the nutrients delivered to them through cosmetics. Both mechanical and chemical exfoliation can also impart nutrients to the skin. Mechanical exfoliation sloughs off dead skin cells with the aid of physical abrasives or scrubs that can include oils and ingredients that scrub while acting as conditioning agents. Chemical exfoliation uses alpha hydroxy acids or beta hydroxy acids to loosen the bonds of older skin cells, which are then rinsed away. In spite of the benefits, care should be taken when working with chemical exfoliants because they can cause skin irritation.

Although body wraps are, without a doubt, esthetic treatments, employing a simple relaxation massage can go a long way in client experience. The massage can be incorporated in the application of the scrub performing the double-duty of exfoliating the skin while simultaneously improving circulation.

Anti-aging oils for scrubs

Because of the effects of mechanical and chemical exfoliation, they make a great start to an anti-aging body wrap treatment. The effectiveness of anti-aging body scrubs can be ramped up by incorporating carrier oils with anti-aging properties. One such oil is baobab (Adansonia digitata) seed oil, which has a high content of oleic, linoleic and palmitic unsaturated fatty acids.1 Oleic acid has been studied as a skin-penetration enhancer allowing for better delivery of topical cosmetics to the stratum corneum.2 The concentration of oleic acid in baobab oil is 35.8%, followed by linoleic acid at 30.7% and palmitic acid at 24.2%. In studies related to moisture retention in the stratum corneum, linoleic acid was found to help reduce transepidermal water loss.3 Moisture retention plays a major role in the function and appearance of the skin, and, because of this, the presence of linoleic acid in a cosmetic ingredient is beneficial.

The body needs minerals for the proper structure and function of cells, and they are lost from the skin daily as a normal process and as a result of excessive sweating.4 Various cosmetic ingredients can supplement some mineral loss. Sea salt, for example, contains a significant amount of minerals, including calcium, potassium, magnesium and iron. Baobab seed oil is also rich in potassium, calcium and magnesium. Combined, sea salt and baobab oil make an effective nourishing, anti-aging scrub leading into a body wrap treatment.

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