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Detox Buyer's Guide
Detox is de rigueur these days, and it’s no wonder: Toxins assault us daily via stress, pollutants, additives and chemicals in our food, water and air, furnishings, cleaners and more. Experts suggest a regular detoxifying whole body cleanse to improve sleep, energy and overall health by mopping up those substances that get in, but won’t get out.
So where do you start?
Experts recommend five major methods of detoxification, so I tried products in each category and talked to experts about how and why they work. Here’s my personal shopper’s lowdown on your body detox options.
1. Detox foot spas and detox baths
The first thing to know about detox footbaths is that once you put your feet in, the water changes — often to a rusty tone with a sediment-like layer you’d expect to find at a steel mill, not a spa. This isn’t your toxins fleeing, as you (and I) might presume. Rather, it’s a chemical reaction between the little electronic device in this gadget (a “bio-energizing cartridge” that extracts toxins through the 2,000 pores in your feet) and the salt you add to the water.
The upshot of this therapy is that something most definitely happens. I got little happy-zappy feelings in my toes. Others report it boosts energy, which may be the case if you try it out earlier than bedtime (I didn’t).
As for luxurious full-body baths, go for it. I enthusiastically vouch for their efficacy and sheer enjoyment. And I’m not the only one. “Hot baths can encourage sweating, which is a major form of elimination for the body,” says Brenda Watson, author of The Detox Strategy: Vibrant Health in 5 Easy Steps. “We can sweat out toxins through the skin.”
2. Detox wraps, exfoliators and masks
Many wraps, exfoliators and masks do remove toxins by prompting us to sweat or otherwise drawing them out from your epidermis. While some experts say the results are pretty temporary, those fleeting results can be well worth it.
“A good exfoliator gets rid of all the pollutants on the skin’s surface and leaves the skin glowing and dewy looking,” says Joanna Vargas of Joanna Vargas Skin Care in New York City, who recommends using exfoliators that contain fruit enzymes and avoiding harsher ones made with glycolics.
Clay and seaweed in masks and whole-body wraps do draw out toxins, and the heat in wraps helps you sweat. “It’s a great thing to do before an event you want to look slimmer for,” Vargas says.
An exfoliator with dramatic detox advantages is the dry brush — a lymphatic system stimulator that makes you feel as glorious as a cat getting its belly scratched.
3. Detox exercises
You can’t go wrong with exercise. Not only does movement that makes you sweat release toxins and generate feel-good endorphins (a great battler of toxic stress), it also stimulates your body’s natural trash-disposal system. Exercise “is one of the best ways to encourage lymphatic flow,” Watson says. “The lymph system is part of our immune system and also helps rid the body of foreign substances and bacteria.”
Want something more tame? Try the Healthy Circulation Machine, a novel exercise device that does the moving for you, undoubtedly stimulating the lymph system. Rest your ankles in it, and it gyrates you in figure eights that are more meditative than aerobic (my mother tried it and darned-near fell asleep).
Again with lymphatic flow. That’s what massage in any form is all about when it comes to detox — it physically stimulates your body’s natural elimination system, helping to move the garbage out, out, out.
“Lymphatic drainage massage on the face and body can drain out excess water and make you look refreshed even when you don't feel it,” Vargas says.
5. Detox foods and supplements
This is the mother lode for detox, say folks in the know. Food is a frontline defense against internal pollutants — the more organic and less processed, the better. And supplements can boost your offense in the battle. You can also try different detox diet programs or detox recipes.
“This is one of the best ways to encourage detoxification of the body,” Watson says.
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