By Tamar Vezirian
Let me preface this story by saying, a genuine korean scrub is not for the shy or faint-hearted type. If this is you, you may want to stop reading here….
BUT if you want your skin to feel as smooth as a baby’s bottom, then read on because this is a beauty treatment all for you!
Just as the Turks are known for their hamams, Koreans have also mastered their bathing domain and if you have a chance to visit one of their extraordinary bath houses, it can prove to be a gem of a memory.
The dawn of every new season is my cue to head over to NYC’s K-Town for a scrub down and no other woman does it better than my girl, Jay. She doesn’t speak a lick of English, yet we seem to understand each other and I trust her implicitly.
The process begins with her leaving me to steam for 10-15 minutes. I should note here that I have the patience of a mule so even though we’ve been through the routine several times together, I always seem to get it wrong and make my escape too early. To this, she hurries after me, all wild eyed with arms flailing about, shouting at me in Korean, as she scoots me back inside and scolds me to not come out until time is up.
Remember when I mentioned faint of heart? Well, 15 minutes is like an eternity in this kind of steam and a real challenge, but I must admit the punishment and wait are worth it. The steam is the most important part of the process, as it opens the pores just enough to get the full benefits of the scrub. In short, no steam, no scrub.
Next, I’m carted off to another cell and hoisted onto the massive cold concrete block ready to be tenderized. Now, this is where the shy and sensitive part comes in and yes, you guessed it – the trust!
There’s no other way to put it other than on that table I’m simply a piece of fleshy meat laid out ready to be worked over. Jay dons her exfoliation mitt, like an expert butcher with her cleaver, and begins the pound down. It’s not painful, but I wouldn’t equate it to serenity either. It’s rough, but I’m there to slough and so brace myself and repeat my mantra, “pain is beauty, pain is beauty.” Every brisk motion, with no nook and cranny unattended, sends dead skin cells flying off into the atmosphere. Buckets of water flood over me to get rid of any residual cells still desperately clinging on for some last chance of hope. In the end, the place looks like a battle zone with nothing but rolled up, dark gray skin cell casualties. It’s disgusting, but I feel amazing and congratulate Jay on her victory!
Now comes the reward. Jay ushers me once again to another station, except my once firm form feels more like a mushy pile of soft oatmeal, as I’m scooped up onto another platform and hit with a waterfall of hot milk. Is it weird that I always get hungry at this point and start to have visions of the Quaker Oat guy? No wonder his is the breakfast of champions. It’s so refreshing and the lactic acid makes my skin feels so energized as it is restored to its natural state. I always feel invigorated and ready to conquer anything.
As the process comes to a close, I sit up feeling like a modern-day Cleopatra. I’m clean to the core, confident, and strong. My skin is fortified and ready to battle the outdoor elements for another month.
If you have never treated yourself to a korean scrub, I would highly recommend it. If you’ve never treated yourself to a spray tan, I’d also highly recommend it, but I bet you already knew that much;) Together these two treatments may be the nicest gift you could ever give yourself. Exfoliation with an Airbrush is like putting the best gift in the nicest, shiniest wrapping. The gift is you and you are worth it.