Do 'It Works' Body Wraps Warrant Their Name?
- It Works body wraps can’t induce weight loss (this is true of any topical, body constricting product).
- There are non-invasive treatments that do reduce fat, like CoolSculpting, but they are relatively expensive compared to wraps.
- Wraps can improve skin appearance by hydrating and plumping the skin.
You may have seen a Facebook post from a former high school classmate or coworker about It Works body wraps. However, because they’re sold exclusively through multi-level marketing and promoted primarily on social media (think Avon but updated), it’s highly likely that you’ve never seen or tried one yet.
The before-and-after pictures presented in the product’s marketing materials showcase unambiguous results with models that have definitively slimmer abdomens, thighs and backs. The fine print on these after shots, however, note that the results seen are due to a combination of the wraps, dieting and exercise.
So, it’s hard to tell how much weight loss can actually be attributed to the wraps themselves. This may be an obvious point but it’s worth emphasizing that no lotion-soaked or dry wrap has been shown to induce permanent weight loss. Nevertheless, there’s no denying It Wraps’ popularity. So, what can these wraps really help you accomplish?
When to Wrap It Up?
It Works wraps are soaked in a lotion that can be applied to various parts of the body using It Works bandaging, plastic wrap or elastic bandages. The active ingredients in the lotion are termed “botanicals” to denote compounds derived from plants. It Works claims that their wraps tighten, firm and detoxify the skin – but what about weight loss?
Esthetician Danuta Mieloch of Rescue Spa in Philadelphia and New York City says that any appearance of weight loss after wrapping will be fleeting. “It’s very temporary water loss,” cautions Mieloch.
Although sweating is a known method that wrestlers or other athletes use to drop pounds quickly before competition qualifications, you can’t target specific areas of the body. If you wrap your belly, for example, you won’t necessarily lose inches there. What’s more, the sweating induced by constricting oneself in plastic or bandages doesn’t burn calories, and the water lost will be replenished – sometimes within hours.
Weight loss aside, Mieloch says that wraps can improve the skin’s appearance to look smoother, more plump and hydrated. This makes wraps a nice addition to a healthy diet and exercise routine.
Referring to the spa wrap experience, Mieloch explains that the treatment typically starts with a scrub to remove dead skin buildup, which is then followed by hydrating ingredients wrapped tightly to the body. “Since dehydration is a big factor in the way skin looks, in my opinion, a good body wrap is a useful element to add to your self-care routine,” she advises.
At-Home Body Wraps and DIY Options
If you are keen on using wraps at home – with an It Works wrap or any other – Mieloch suggests exfoliating first.
“Exfoliation and removing dead skin is really helpful. If you do a nice vigorous scrub, the skincare ingredients will penetrate better,” she explains. An Epsom salt-almond oil mix works well as will a mix of other oils like coconut or olive with say, a sea salt. You can also try a dry brush technique using a firm-bristled brush directly on dry skin.
Either way, exfoliate until your skin feels a little warm and looks flushed, advises Mieloch.
After water, the first ingredients in the It Wraps lotion are moisturizers, clarifies New York dermatologist Dr. Jeannette Graf . “They’re primarily moisturizing, humectants, and skin stimulating. These can have the effect of plumping the skin itself as well as diminishing the appearance of cellulite.”
The It Works wrap itself is plastic, which forms a barrier over the skin, allowing the lotion’s ingredients to penetrate. Cellulite can smooth slightly when skin is very hydrated but the effect is temporary.
If you’re interested in skin conditioning, you might be better off saving your $15 per wrap (It Wraps come in packs of four for $59 USD) and DIY’ing your own version at home.
Exfoliate first, then apply your favorite moisturizer (or almond or coconut oil) and wrap tightly with a plastic wrap. A big proponent of the benefits of self-care, Mieloch believes that “the at-home ritual can be beautiful. You’re doing something good for yourself that goes beyond the skincare. You’re forcing yourself to relax.”
Non-Invasive Weight Loss Treatments That Do Work
The before and after images from It Works that demonstrate weight loss are likely the result of the subjects’ exercise routines or dietary changes. Although wraps soaked in lotion won’t help you drop pounds, there are a few non-invasive treatments that can help – with little to no gym time required.
Shrinking love handles and tummy rolls are this treatment’s trademark. In addition, the fat-freezing machine works on smaller areas too, notes Manhattan dermatologist Dr. Amy Wechsler. It can tighten up a double chin and shrink man boobs, bra strap bulge and fat around the knees.
A single CoolScupting application is $750 USD and takes 30 minutes per area. The treatment can be time consuming – some doctor’s offices have two machines running simultaneously (like Dr. Wechsler’s) so you’ll be done in half the time.
Instead of thermal energy, UltraShape uses ultrasound to destroy fat cells. The treatment doesn’t help you skip the gym though. UltraShape ruptures the membranes of fat cells so when you do lose weight from diet and exercise, fat comes off in the areas you’ve treated.
Jeannel Astarita of Just Ageless in New York City tells her clients it’s a great way to jump start a weight loss program as you’ll see results rather quickly – usually within 10 days. This quick gratification motivates her clients to stick to their programs.
The procedure is painless and treatment time varies according to the size of the area marked to be treated. Fees run up to $800 to $1,200 USD per session with three session being the standard recommendation.
This laser treatment targets fat below the dermis without damaging the skin itself. Each session lasts around 25 minutes. The applicator can get uncomfortably hot but it appears that an alternate cooling mechanism kicks in when you reach your limit of heat tolerance.
Weight loss results should appear after about six weeks and three sessions (at around $1,000 USD each) are typically required to attain a client’s expected goals.
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