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As the city heats up and the humidity thickens, L.A. shows more skin
— more good skin — than most cities: tanned shoulders and buff biceps,
toned, silky calves and smooth, bare bellies. So it’s fortunate that Los Angeles
is brimming with indulgent body scrubs — from dry loofah brushings to soapy
seaweed massages to shea butter, sugar and salt scrubs. Whether you’re thick-
or thin-skinned, take care of it — exfoliate.


1. Eat, Drink, Man, Woman

Food-based body treatments are nothing new — I’ve had practically all of them,
from the more common oatmeal masks to a raw-fish facial in Japan and a coconut-milk
massage under a palm tree in Thailand. But I’ve never quite felt like an ingredient
myself. During Ole Henriksen’s “Cucumber-Honey-Milk Total Face/Body”
scrub, you’re doted on with all the focus of an Iron Chef in the final moments
of competition. The prep: Your bare body is slicked with warm peppermint, rosemary
and eucalyptus oil. The technique: With aromatic oil dripping between your toes
and over the rounds of your elbows and knees, you’re “seasoned” with generous
spoonfuls of imported dead-sea salt which is then kneaded and rubbed over your
skin with all the vigor of a type-A 1950s housewife preparing the turkey for
Christmas dinner. Then comes the tropical rain rinse — really just tap water
but the fine “aqua rush” from the overhead hubcap-sized “vishy showers” does
conjure an Amazon forest-­like tranquility. Your body is then basted with organic
honey before being wrapped in a foil sheet, which locks in body heat, and you
are left to marinate in a combination of your own sweat, the now-melting honey
and remaining traces of sea salt, while a grated cucumber face mask keeps your
cheeks cool. Finally, you’re “finished off” or doused with buckets of fresh
whole milk and your newly silky, buffed skin is patted dry with a fluffy white
towel. The sweet scent of honey will linger in your pores for hours; and you’ll
feel, well, absolutely delicious. Ole Henriksen Face & Body Shop, 8622 W.
Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood. (310) 854-7700.

—Deborah Vankin


2. The Larchmont Getaway — from Larchmont

Larchmont Village has long inspired a sort of contempt within me that borders
on the psychotic. Like a little Santa Monica dropped onto the Eastside, it’s
full of people with bleached white teeth who drive BMWs, fawn over yappy little
dogs and frequent wellness centers. Not to mention you have to circle the place
five times to find a parking space. By the time I arrived at Le Petit Retreat
day spa
for my “salt glow and herbal garden rhapsody,” I was near homicidal.
Inside, though, it’s a different scene, one designed to take high-anxiety types
like me to a happier place. And it did. I haven’t had much (okay, any) experience
with scrubs, but I think I got a damn good one. Everyone says I looked great
the next day, even though I felt like an allergy-riddled troll. Much credit
goes to the Polish-expat scrubber, an expert in the healing arts. I know she
was an expert because I signed on for a massage after the scrub, which I can
say from experience — and a formerly very stiff neck — was superior. Le Petit
caters to couples, who can get tandem massages in a private, patio setting and,
afterward, jump into the hot tub together (which is also private). If you need
to get away, and only have a few hours to do it, this is the one time I recommend
the trip to Larchmont Village. Le Petit Retreat, 331 N. Larchmont Blvd.,
Los Angeles. (323) 466-1028.

—Joe Donnelly

3. The Yin and Yang

Century Spa and Beverly Hot Springs represent two extremes of
the Korean day-spa experience: Century is (relatively) cheap, fast, crowded,
brightly lit and wholly unromantic; after one of its incredibly thorough, slightly
shocking 20-minute body scrubs you will know, for certain, your skin is as soft
as it will be at any point in your life, ever. The drawback: You may feel a
bit like a sausage link on a conveyor belt, and you will also know how it feels
to walk naked under harsh lights in front of half of K-town. (Well, it seems
like that.) Beverly Hot Springs, by contrast, is sparsely populated, dimly lit,
deliciously mysterious, peaceful . . . and expensive. The body scrubs can be
hit-and-miss: One visit to scrubber-masseuse KJ was a blessed reprieve from
reality, with seaweed soap and a facial massage to boot; on another visit, she
was rough, and the soap left sting marks on our tender bellies. But, oh! The
mineral baths. Switch between hot and cold pools for a minute each, for an hour;
forget your name; emerge reborn. Century Sports Club & Day Spa, 4120 W. Olympic
Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 954-1020. Beverly Hot Springs, 308 N. Oxford Ave.,
Los Angeles. (323) 734-7000.

—Kate Sullivan


4. Body Therapy

The Body Clinic’s Aromatherapy Body Polish gets it right — invigorating
but not harsh, a good blend of massage and exfoliation that soothes and stimulates
the body down to the extremities, all in 50 minutes. The therapist had an assured
touch, and the scrub itself was super­fine, like white sand, and smelled heavenly.
Located down the street from LAX on Sepulveda, the Body Clinic manages to feel
and sound a world away from Worldway — no small feat. That it happens to be
one of very few full-service spas in town that’s black-owned increases the accomplishment.
The Body Clinic, 13455 Maxella Ave., Marina del Rey. (310) 577-2211.

—Erin Aubry Kaplan


5. Some Like It Hot

After 20 frustrating minutes navigating the hellish Grove parking structure,
I was very much in need of something therapeutic. The Amadeus Spa and Salon,
with its laundry list of indulgences, was just the ticket for a bitter wiseacre
like myself. I chose the highly touted Aqua Polish, a full-body salt scrub accompanied
by a moisturizing massage, which turned out to be given by a very hunky masseuse.
The massage room itself was warm and steamy; the music soothing. Patrons are
given a two-piece get-up to wear. Unfortunately, the three sizes I was offered
varied widely: The small might fit Barbie; the medium, Kate Moss. The large
looked as if it would fit Jumbo the Elephant. Having no choice, I chose Jumbo.
At the start of my scrub, I was doused repeatedly with warm, soothing jets of
water before the masseuse rubbed a salt-purée concoction over every nook and
cranny of my body, excluding my face and private parts. I was doused again with
warm water before being flipped over — whereupon the procedure began all over
again. The rubdown lasted about 30 minutes, followed by a 10-minute moisturizing
massage. The rub itself (and possibly the massage) is the real reason to visit
Amadeus. The changing rooms are small, the waiting room has all the flair of
a dentist’s office and the sauna is lukewarm. Perks schmerks. The rub alone
is worth the trip — and the hunky masseuse is a bonus. Amadeus Spa and Salon,
189 The Grove Drive, Suite S-10, Los Angeles. (323) 297-0310. Other locations
in Pasadena and Newport Beach.

—Christine Pelisek


6. Hunting and Gathering

After a long week of bear- and elk-hunting west of the Fairfax District, after
cleaning the rifle and then, in the blazing midday sun, picking up the shell
casings I’d strewn across West Hollywood, I was overdue for my Hunters Retreat,
a body scrub and hose-down offered at the tony Burke Williams Spa, in
the Virgin Megastore complex on Sunset. This “wet massage” is given on a table
surrounded by several nozzles. The plastic foliage wrapped around the pipes
reminds you that you’re never too far from the wilds. My masseuse said she was
certified but got special training by the Spa for the wet room. I felt a bit
like a slab of meat myself after being hosed and rubbed with scrub and slopped
with a wheat sponge that resembles an octopus — hosed again, massaged, flipped
over and then the whole process began all over again. The effect is a languorous
entry into an entirely new zone of relaxation. The spa offers post-massage dips
in hot pools and cold pools, steam rooms or simply a soft chair in which to
stew with a cup of cold water. Enough. Back to the jungle, sleepwalking. Burke
Williams Spa, 8000 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood. (866) 239-6635. Other locations
in Santa Monica, Pasadena, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Mission Viejo and Orange.

—Steven Leigh Morris

LA Weekly