(CNN) — For first-timers in a bathhouse in South Korea, stripping bare and soaking for hours in tubs with strangers usually comes as a jolt.
The scrub nook in any jjimjilbang (a Korean facility that is a bathhouse, sauna and spa rolled into one) is the part newbies discover most alarming.
It is because the scrub nook traffics in a totally completely different form of bare intimacy — one during which a grumpy Korean lady in black lace underwear makes use of a rough towel to clean each nook of her visitor/sufferer’s physique.
For many, it is a punishing, but oddly satisfying expertise.
It lasts about 40 minutes — or a couple of minutes longer than you’d end up within the ring for a championship prizefight.
Good Korean scrub
The extreme Korean cleaning course of (referred to as “seshin”) entails soaking the physique in scorching water, then rubbing it with a “Korean Italy towel” — a colourful, skinny loofah with a sandpaper-like texture — to rid the physique of all of the gunk, filth and layers of useless pores and skin that accumulate naturally.
Rolls of darkish, grey pores and skin fall away because the ddemiri (scrub mistress) works away, revealing smooth, pink layers of pores and skin beneath.
It is a very rejuvenating — and, once more, painful — course of that locals embrace as a weekly ritual with household and mates.
Women and men have separate bathing areas and get scrubbed by members of their very own gender.
Korean scrubbing rituals have sometimes been embraced by few Westerners — assorted Hollywood stars have gone in for fast classes in LA’s Koreatown.
In any other case, the approach is basically unknown.
Over the previous yr or so, nevertheless, in accordance with Seoul’s Dragon Hill Spa head of public relations Hyun-Kyu Sang, the variety of foreigners coming for scrubs is growing.
“We have been noticing vacationers coming to (South) Korea and staying two nights at a resort, and one night time right here, on the spa,” says Sang, explaining that many international guests go for bundle offers that included a seshin possibility.
“A number of vacationers come to (South) Korea and are available right here first, with their baggage, and get scrubbed to begin their go to,” he says.
Is the Korean-style scrub on its technique to turning into the following world magnificence pattern? Whether it is, we need to be among the many first to test it out.
That is why we went to Seoul to ask the perfect scrub mistresses for tips about getting essentially the most out of a scrub session.
What to do — and never do
1. Do not contact the bathe gel
Whereas many convey their very own fancy bathe gel to the bathhouse to lather up earlier than the scrub, it seems that bar cleaning soap, not the liquid type, is definitely the way in which to go.
“Use the cleaning soap supplied by the bathhouses throughout the pre-scrub bathe and soak,” says Kim Jung Yeol, who’s been a scrub mistress on the Dragon Hill Spa in Yongsan, Seoul, for greater than a decade.
“When you use physique shampoo, the pores and skin will get too slippery to clean correctly, and the ‘dde’ (useless pores and skin rolls) would not come off almost as effectively.”
2. Soak for 30 minutes in medium-hot water
We all know, it is scorching, however keep in slightly longer. Your useless pores and skin will thanks.
Impatient scrubees bolt out of soaking tubs after 5 or 10 minutes. Korean grandmothers keep in tubs seemingly for hours. However the optimum size for a prescrub soak is 30 minutes.
Soaking in hotter water causes the pores and skin to wrinkle quicker (a very good factor), however in accordance with a gaggle of ddemiri (scrub mistress) at Geumgansan Sauna in Hapjeong, prospects ought to keep within the water temperature they’re most snug with, as an alternative of making an attempt a warmer tub and calling it a day after a couple of minutes.
“Staying within the water to prune is most necessary,” says one ddemiri.
Three. Be fully naked
This one could appear apparent, however scrub mistresses say lots of their prospects come to them with out eradicating every thing. This contains rings, earrings, glasses and different equipment.
These with lengthy hair ought to convey their very own hair-tie — the ddemiri will tie their hair in an ideal bun.
four. Significantly, loosen up
“Loosen up!” is the instruction issued most frequently by the ddemiri.
If the physique is just too inflexible, the scrub mistress cannot contort it into the positions essential to get at each nook and cranny. It is awkward and painful at first, however forcing the physique to loosen up its muscle tissues permits the ddemiri to get issues finished most successfully.
“Normally prospects hear after which they find yourself having loads of enjoyable,” says Jung.
5. The enjoyable ought to come afterward
This one surprises locals in addition to foreigners.
Although some assume sitting in a spa’s numerous scorching rooms earlier than a scrub is an efficient technique to get the pores and skin prepared, ddemiris advise getting scrubbed earlier than enjoyable.
“If prospects get scrubbed first after which go to the recent rooms, they will really feel extra refreshed, because the sweat is not blocked by soiled pores,” says Jung.
“Then all they need to do after is rinse off within the bathe.”
6. Scrub weekly
Scrubs ought to be booked not more than as soon as per week. Any extra usually and there is hazard of overexfoliation.
However in accordance with Jung, weekly scrubs enhance pores and skin vibrancy and blood circulation, in addition to muscle rest.
Jjimjilbangs with the perfect scrub
Dragon Hill Spa, 40-713 Hangangro Three-ga Yongsan-gu, Seoul; +82 2 797 0002; open 24 hours; ₩11,000-₩13,000 ($10-$12)for admission, scrub costs fluctuate
The Spa in Garden 5, 5/F 10, TOOL Da-dong Garden5, 292 Munjeong-dong Songpa-gu, Seoul; +82 2 404 2700; open 24 hours; ₩6,000-₩eight,000 ($5-7)for admission, scrub costs fluctuate
Spa Land, Centum Metropolis, 35 Centumnam-daero, Haeundae-gu, Busan; +82 51 745 2900; open day by day, 6 a.m.-midnight, admission: ₩12,000 ($11) on weekdays and ₩14,000 ($12) on weekends; scrub begins at ₩20,000 ($18)