In Western society, a trip to the spa involves face creams and masks, essential oils, cucumber slices, and a lot of money. In contrast to these stereotypical spa experiences, another spa experience exists in public bathhouses. These bathhouses have been around since ancient Rome, and to this day are regularly visited in technologically advanced cities like Seoul. In fact, the jimjilbang (Korean term for spa) is often open for 24-hours, attracting visits for people of every age. Most jimjilbang are equipped with restaurants, lounging areas, steam rooms, saunas, and pools. On top of that, you can request different treatments like massages and scrubs. The most popular treatment is the famous Korean body scrub. The scrub is meant to rid the body of dead skin through an intense exfoliation process, often offered in 30, 60, or 90 minute increments.
How does the scrub work?
First, the body is soaked in warm-hot water. The client will be completely nude, so that the entire body can be scrubbed. Body oil is then applied. Then, an “Italy towel” is used to scrub the body. Clients that have experienced a Korean body scrub often say that “not one crevice is neglected”, suggesting how vigorous the process is. A hefty amount of dead skin reminiscent of eraser dust is produced, so water is poured over the body once again. Body oil is often applied to finish the process, and the skin is now silky smooth! Oftentimes a hair wash and face mask also comes with the treatment which is another plus.
Why do people do this? What are the benefits?
Korean body scrubs are extremely effective in cleansing the body and ridding impurities and toxins. It is said that an improved complexion and glow also comes with the scrub, as well as a boost in skin health. In addition to improvements to the skin, the towels help with circulation which in turn, help tone the body. As a result of these benefits, this treatment is extremely popular in Korea and is often repeated on a weekly basis. Another reason that this scrub is popular is that it is like no other: not an inch of the body is missed, and unlike typical body scrubs, you genuinely get your entire body scrubbed. You can also visibly see the dead skin afterwards, which further inclines people to go back since they can see the effectiveness with their own eyes.
The opening of jimjilbang is becoming more frequent around the world, and if you ever have free time, spending an entire day at a Korean bathhouse is great for relaxation (and just a change of scenery!). People often say that they feel like an entirely new person after receiving a Korean body scrub, so maybe this is a simple fix to an emotional (and skin) glow up that we’ve all been hoping for.