By Jean Shea
Originally published in Skin Deep, July/August 2009.
Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue has been the good luck wedding custom for years. Now it looks like the good luck is rubbing off on spas, since the wedding tradition increasingly includes pre-wedding spa events, complete with body wraps and scrubs for the bridal party.
Just ask Maria Panting, director of the Korpus Medical Spa in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Her Central American spa is benefiting from the growing popularity among Americans to get married in a romantic beach setting. “We now offer a special spa package that features a range of wraps and other body treatments for the entire bridal party, who may spend two days before the wedding getting ready,” Panting says.
A pre-wedding spa day of wraps and scrubs also is very popular at the Beauty and Body Lounge in San Diego, says co-owner Bonnie Krage. “For weddings, as well as other special events, we also do a lot of little-black-dress treatments, where we focus on just the extremities.”
While weddings provide a great opportunity to promote wraps and scrubs for the bride-to-be and her entourage, the enthusiasm among spa-goers for them extends well beyond the bridal market. Driven by a desire for healing and hydrating, clients now want to experience all-over body treatments. Wraps, which date back thousands of years to ancient Egypt, help relax and rejuvenate the body, tighten and tone the skin, and improve circulation. Wraps used in combination with a scrub for cleansing, exfoliating, and toning provide a wake-up call for skin.
Suzanne McCormick, spa director at the Water’s Edge Resort & Spa in Westbrook, Connecticut, says the current interest in wraps and scrubs began about two years ago and has risen steadily since, particularly among clientele for whom a massage and facial are part of a regular spa regimen. “Among these individuals, extending the spa experience to an all-over body treatment is a natural progression in their quest for healing or hydrating,” she says.
Spa clients who are more into the healing aspect of a spa want a cleansing experience, so they opt for a mud wrap that contains detoxifying essential oils, according to McCormick. When clients want more of a hydrating skin result, the Water’s Edge Spa offers its signature Rose Wrap. The wrap started as a Valentine’s Day specialty but soon became a year-round favorite, especially among new customers who want something unique. Applied with essential rose oil, the wrap features natural, sun-dried rose clay extracted from the Provence region of France.
In all cases, wraps at the Water’s Edge begin with a dry brushing to remove dead skin and stimulate circulation, which opens pores so the product can better penetrate. Based on their preference, clients select either a Mylar foil or standard body plastic for their body wrap. The treatment always ends with a scalp treatment.
As the seasons change, so do wraps and scrubs. “We have just two seasons in Honduras—the rainy season and the summer,” Panting says. “As summer approaches, the demand for wraps goes up since everyone wants their bodies hydrated to counteract the harshness of the summer sun, and look to their best when they wear the least.”
The holidays also drive the sale of wraps. Panting says many clients want detoxifying wraps after year-end indulgences.
McCormick says her spa gets really busy at New Year’s Eve when clients want a nice body polish and massage to be silky smooth for the evening. Generally, however, she advises her clients to get a wrap and body polish at the end of each season to get rid of dead cells and to feel renewed.
If money is an issue, McCormick encourages clients to opt for the body polish. “I think scrubs often are underrated,” she says, adding they are quite economical for cost-conscious consumers since a little product goes a long way.
Whatever the season or event, there is a wide variety of detoxifying and hydrating body wraps, each tailored to the unique needs of clients. Among them is the algae wrap in which warmed algae is applied to the entire body to help nourish and detoxify the skin. A seaweed wrap of concentrated seawater and seaweed can help hydrate and firm the skin. With an herbal wrap, fresh or dried herbs are blended with oils and steeped in very hot water in order to remove dead skin cells and nourish the skin.
Similar to a mud wrap, a clay wrap will include aromatherapy oils. Skin in need of intense moisturizing can benefit from a paraffin wrap where warm paraffin is brushed over the body. The paraffin wrap is also thought to reduce muscle and joint aches and soothe the symptoms of arthritis.
Trends and Traditions
Different kinds of wraps fall in and out of vogue. While aromatherapy wraps are popular all year long, Panting notes the chocolate wrap got a boost in popularity in Honduras following news reports on the antiaging and toning properties of chocolate. However, now her clients are more interested in detoxifying treatments.
After analyzing trends in customer needs, the Beauty and Body Lounge created a number of special wrap packages. Responding to the demand for firming treatments, the spa packaged a Marine Body Wrap with a Pilates class and cellulite reduction. This wrap is now the spa’s most popular, Krage says.
The profit potential for body wraps and scrubs can be significant. Body wrapping is also a good time to introduce clients to other spa services. For example, during 45 minutes of wrapped time, a client also can get a facial, a manicure, or a pedicure.
While traditionally these treatments required a wet room—a costly investment—new spa body treatment products make it possible to offer traditional wet room treatments in a dry environment. These products are formulated to stay moist and not dry out, retaining their creamy texture. They generally remove easily with a warm, damp cloth in one or two passes at a considerable savings in water usage over wet room treatments. There is even a new wrap in a balm form that does not require removal. It is massaged into the skin as a hydrating and soothing finishing product, saving money, time, and water.
All signs point to the increasing popularity of body treatments. In the meantime, when satisfied clients keep coming back for more services, as far as your business goes, it’s a wrap.
Jean Shea is founder and chief executive officer of Biotone, a leading manufacturer of professional creams, gels, lotions, massage oils, and body and facial treatment products for the spa. Shea founded the company in 1980 and continues to help create and manufacture the company’s formulas.
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