Actress Sofia Vergara is as famous for her bombshell body as she is for her comedic talents. The "Modern Family" star recently spilled her beauty secrets to US Weekly, including how she helps to keep her A-list figure so trim: by going to bed wrapped in Saran wrap.
"When I have time at home I’ll do masks, I’ll put coconut oil all over my hair," she said. "When Joe [Manganiello] is out of town I even sleep in [plastic] wrap and coconut oil everywhere – I love products."
Homemade body wraps have been around for centuries, dating all the way back to ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt (Cleopatra was also apparently a fan). The wraps are said to heal and detoxify the body, including removing excess fat and fluid from tissues, tightening and toning the skin, as well as nourishing and softening it.
So if body wraps are good enough for beauty queens like Vergara and Cleopatra, then should you be adding them to your wellness routine?
How Do They Work?
"Saran wrapping traps heat and increases sweat from the skin," says Dr. Sonia Batra, dermatologist and co-host of "The Doctors" on CBS. "Usually, a mask or product is applied to the skin and then sealed in by wrapping the area of concern (such as the abdomen) with Saran or plastic wrap. Some people will then cover or seal the wrap with compressive bandages or warm blankets."
Do They Work?
"The potential benefits are from the products used in conjunction with the wrap that may be helpful as antioxidants, hydrating, or exfoliating agents for the skin," says Dr. Batra. For example, the coconut oil that Vergara uses is naturally antibacterial and antifungal and penetrates the skin better than most other oils.
"The benefit of the wrap itself is a temporary loss of water weight," says Dr. Batra. "While exercising, using a wrap may enhance results by increasing body temperature and metabolic rate. Wraps work in the short term to slim down or lose inches by increasing water loss."
Though wraps are effective, as Dr. Batra mentions, the key thing to know is that they are "short term."
From the Organic Authority Files
"It is a quick fix to dehydrate the skin and temporarily lose volume. However, the skin will return to its usual size when a person rehydrates," says Dr. Batra. "If there are any long term benefits, they would likely be from products used to hydrate or exfoliate the skin used in conjunction with the wraps. Wraps provide a temporary reduction in weight and bloat through water loss, but they do not provide any long term fat reduction or improvement in cellulite."
Are They Safe?
Wrapping your body tightly, even in coconut oil, does have its drawbacks.
"In the short term dehydration and fluid shifts can harm overall skin quality," says Dr. Batra. "Dehydration can cause symptoms of weakness, dizziness and confusion. The seal or occlusion created by the wrap could clog pores and lead to breakouts. The warm, moist environment created by the wrap is perfect for harboring bacterial and fungal infections, especially if this is repeated frequently."
And lest we forget that plastic wrap is not a natural material, thus, as Dr. Batra cautions, "Repeat exposure to Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) in the Saran wrap may also leach toxic molecules into the skin."
She also cautions that pregnant or nursing women and anyone with kidney disease or fluid dysregulation should avoid this treatment.
Though a homemade, or salon, body wrap like Vergara's can soothe and nourish the skin, ultimately, it's not a long term form of weight loss.
Says Dr. Batra: "Exercise and a healthy diet remain the safest and most effective ways to lose belly fat and reduce weight."
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