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Photo Credit: Ladywell's Website

Beginner's guide to the body scrub

I am embarrassed to admit, I am a beauty treatment addict. You can find extremely affordable spa services in NYC (where I used to live), so after 20 some years of foregoing any sort of spa experience (even a basic manicure), I found myself suddenly getting bi-weekly manis and pedis, threading my eyebrows, and delving into the glorious world of massages and facials every few months. One of the few treatments I never tried though, was a body scrub.

So why now? While body scrubs are beneficial year-round, they are especially great to get during the winter when people suffer from dry and itchy skin. A body scrub should leave your skin feeling healthy, refreshed, and baby soft.

According to Jamie Underwood, Director of Spa Services at Ladywell's Vitality Spa and Sauna in Greenwood, exfoliating treatments do more than keep your skin feeling great on the outside. "On a deeper level, circulation of blood and lymph increases, helping the process of detoxing and moving stagnant fluid," Underwood said.

I was lucky enough to receive a classic bergamot body scrub at Ladywell's after spending the recommended hour soaking and steaming in the spa's pools and steam room. Ladywell's offers three pools: a hot whirlpool, a warm soaking pool and a cold plunge pool, as well as two saunas and a steam bath infused with essential oils.

When it was time for my scrub, I was sent to lie down on a cushioned table in a section of the spa separated by a divider. My therapist began the scrub by rinsing my body with warm water (which felt wonderful), and then rubbing in the body scrub all over, excluding my face. You are able to choose between two different scrubs, the classic bergamot or the seasonal tangerine blend. I was told the scrub I chose (tangerine) was made with a blend of white sugar, brown sugar, tangerine, lemon hibiscus, and grapeseed oil. Truthfully, at first the scrub was a little painful, but I soon got used to it after I relaxed.

After that, the therapist continued to rub in the body scrub, but this time used exfoliating gloves to melt down the sugar and drive the grapeseed oil deeper into the skin. I personally enjoyed the way the exfoliating gloves felt the best. My therapist then rinsed me off again with buckets of warm water, and proceeded to have me flip over and repeat the process.

The warm water used to rinse me off felt amazing after the scrub, and I was left with smooth, oh-so-soft skin. Best of all, you get to keep the exfoliating gloves, and can purchase the sugar scrub to take home and give yourself your own exfoliating treatment whenever you need it.

After speaking with Underwood and reading about body scrubs, I came up with a few tips for anyone new to professional exfoliating treatments:

1. Leave time to soak. Soaking prepares your skin for the exfoliation process (getting to the prune-y wrinkled stage is best).

2. Do not shave at least 24 hours before your appointment.

3. Exfoliate year-round. As mentioned, body scrubs help get rid of dry winter skin, but it can also help prepare your skin before you go spray tanning to ensure you don't get an uneven color.

4. Take advantage of the pools and saunas at the spa, if available. Alternating between hot and cold water improves circulation, boosts the immune system, and relieves pain.

5. Yes, people may be naked. You have the option (at least at Ladywells, spa policies vary) to either wear a bathing suit or forego clothing completely. Fabric dyes can get into pores, so many choose to go all natural.

6. Stay hydrated. No matter what body treatment you may receive, it is important to drink plenty of water. Ladywell's suggests to drink one glass of water per every 15 minutes using the steam room or sauna.

7. Book your scrub towards the end of your time at the spa. This gives you time to soak and enjoy the other parts of the spa prior to your treatment.

8. After exfoliation services, sunbathing is not recommended (you can spray tan instead).

9. Do not exfoliate more than every two weeks.

Book your next body scrub at Ladywell's Vitality Spa and Sauna (sorry guys, ladies only). You can choose from the classic bergamot body scrub ($50), and the 40-minute signature body scrub, which includes a coconut milk and honey conditioner ($85). Remember! Make sure to give yourself enough time to soak at least an hour before your scrub when making your appointment.