Forget dieting! A hammam treatment might be the easiest way to get bikini-body ready

Le Hamam by Jean-Léon Gérôme
Le Hamam by Jean-Léon Gérôme

It’s swimsuit season! And while most people might be focusing on slimming down, I prefer the (slightly easier) task of making my skin look radiant. After all, it doesn’t matter how thin and fit you are in a bikini if your skin is flaky and dry.

So before I headed to the beach last weekend, I decided to prep myself with a hammam at the Haven Spa on Mercer Street. A Turkish treatment, hammam is a steam session, full body wash and a massage that works to exfoliate your skin and rid it of any scaly ickiness that might be left over from winter.

The entrance to Haven Spa
The entrance to Haven Spa

At Haven, the treatment starts with a 15-minute steam session, during which time I sweated out pretty much every liquid I have ever consumed. When the 15 minutes were up, my therapist, Kalina, came to get me and led me into the sterile treatment room, which is not unlike a doctor’s office. As I lay down on the table, I felt a bit like I was either going into surgery or about to have my throat slit by Dexter.

Thankfully, once Kalina started working her magic, that feeling quickly dissipated. She rubbed my entire body with African black soap and massaged every aching muscle until it was tender.

Be warned, this treatment involves getting almost completely naked (you are given a disposable pair of underwear) and Kalina works on pretty much every part of your body, though she asked for permission before she touched my more sensitive areas.

The steam room
The steam room

After the scrubbing, Kalina used warm water to wash the soap off of me “like a little baby.” This part was a little messy, and she deposited layer after layer of plastic wrap into the trash can as they filled with water.

Next came the exfoliating glove and this part was, well, less pleasant. Kalina rubbed it all over me to remove dead skin cells, which kind of scratched my sensitive skin though she was gentle. My aching skin was rewarded for its pain afterwards, when she put on the Rhassoul clay, which had a warming and soothing effect. She then wrapped me up in plastic (note: make sure you attend to any nagging irritations before the wrapping; I was mighty glad I scratched my nose beforehand) and put a heavy blanket on top for another fifteen minutes. I drifted off as Kalina gave me a scalp massage, and when this blissful time was up, she once again washed me and then applied an Argan oil, to seal in the moisture.

At the end of the appointment, which took about an hour and a half in total, I was beyond slippery, but my skin felt smoother and firmer than it had been before. I looked toned, relaxed and definitely bikini-body ready — and the best part was I didn’t even have to do any exercise.

The treatment room
The treatment room