I've had body scrubs at spas, and my skin has always felt smoother after. But I never really thought it was worth paying spa treatment prices ($85 and up). I thought I could do almost as well myself with a home body scrub.
I changed my mind after getting a Korean body scrub at Juvenex, one of the first Korean spas in New York City and still one of the best. I couldn't believe how much dead skin came off, and how smooth my skin felt afterward. And it was all done with water -- lots of warm water -- and a pair of exfoliating mitts.
The secret to the Korean scrub is that they prepare the skin before the exfoliation. In most American spas, the therapist just starts scrubbing away with salt on your dry skin. But at Juvenex, I spent 15 minutes in a jade sauna, soaked in a hot bath for 15 minutes, and 10 minutes in the mugwort steam room. By then the dead skin cells were softened up.
I lay on a massage table in a disposable swimsuit, and Heidi ran exfoliating mitts over my lower legs. She showed me how the dead skin cells rolled up into thin, grey ropes, which was both fascinating and a little horrifying.
Sometimes I could feel the old skin on the table like crumbs. I kept wanting to look at what Heidi was getting off. She thought I should relax, and I did, especially when she poured bowl after bowl of warm water over me to wash away the dead skin.
Heidi was nothing if not thorough. I lay on my front, and she stretched out my arms to exfoliate my armpits. No one has ever done that before. I lay on both sides, with one knee bent so she could exfoliate my inner thighs. Another first. She flipped me a few times because I had so very much to exfoliate (It won't be such a job if I come back in a month to maintain, like getting a haircut.)
She rinsed me with milk, washed my hair, and placed thin slices of cool organic cucumber on my face for a refreshing mask. I honestly have never had a better body scrub, that left my skin feeling softer and -- truly -- younger looking.
I read somewhere that most of the "dust" in our house is literally dead skin cells that have flaked off our body. And after this treatment from Heidi -- a body scrub worth the price -- I believe it. I thought I was doing a pretty good job of exfoliating at home, but obviously I needed professional help!
Photo by Anitra Brown