Exfoliating treatments at Chicago spas

Get your skin ready for summer with one of these exfoliating spa services.
Photograph: Erica McKeehen
By TOC staff |

Lavender Salt Glow treatment at Tiffani Kim Institute
You know those scenes in period movies where royalty are being bathed by their help? That’s how I feel during my visit to the Tiffani Kim Institute. After a dry brush whisks away the first layer of dead skin, my aesthetician, Kara, applies generous handfuls of the exfoliating mix (a blend of Dead Sea salt, avocado-, grapefruit- and lavender-extract oils) to my entire body. Like any good salt-based exfoliant worth its, well, salt, it’s a bit coarse on the skin, but the calming scent of lavender sends me into a relaxation coma. And then the best part of the service: using a hand towel to prevent any tickling-induced hysteria, Kara washes away the scrub by running warm water from a single shower head all over my body as I lie flat on the table. Then, like magic, the wet, plastic sheet beneath me disappears, and I sink deeper onto a warm, towel-covered surface. I can barely stay awake as she lathers me in aloe and lavender extract–infused lotion. By the time the treatment is over, my mind feels as refreshed and renewed as my body. $70 for 40 minutes. (310 W Superior St, 312-260-9000).—Jessica Herman

Customized exfoliation experience at VALEO
The difference between VALEO (located in the basement of JW Marriott) and other spas is that VALEO doesn’t offer a typical spa menu. Instead, you decide what kind of experience you want and the spa creates the service. So after I tell the spa professionals that I want a full-body exfoliation, I’m led to the Clarity Chamber (a marble-clad treatment area inspired by Turkish and Moroccan baths, complete with a fireplace). I lie down on the heated marble table and, although I’ve never been to Morocco, it feels as if I’m instantly transported there. The oils and scrubs used during the experience have an old-world smell—Moroccan spices made sweet with a hint of honey. The attendant scrubs and massages my body and uses a bucket of warm water dozens of times to wash it all away. The scrubbing is a little rough but in a relaxing way. Once the hour-long process is complete, I’m guided to the larger marble table in the middle of the chamber, where an avocado-honey shea butter is massaged into my body. My skin feels supersoft and ready for summer. If you have the time (and the money), an additional 30-minute exfoliating facial complements the service nicely. Spa experiences are $1.80 per minute for VALEO members, $2.50 per minute for nonmembers. (151 W Adams St, 312-660-8200).—Kevin Aeh

Mango Enzyme Body Wrap at Urban Spa Chic
After settling into the comfy, dimly lit room, I’m completely rubbed down with a cool, exfoliating mango enzyme glaze, while lying atop a layer of thin plastic (this makes the turning-over part a bit sticky and awkward) and warm blankets that are later folded into a cocoon for body baking. Once tucked in, I receive a super-soothing lavender oil scalp and neck massage. It’s warm but not boiling, and my spa pro Janet does a great job addressing the problem knots at the base of my neck. The postbake rinse, however, is a little jarring. Entering the bathroom totally relaxed, I’m blasted with sharp teal walls, bright lights and Bruno Mars as I stand in a shower that more closely resembles my own than that of an upscale spa. But back in the treatment room, the postrinse body butter rubdown—special attention is paid to my feet and toes—is delightful and leaves my skin soft, glowing and bikini-worthy, erasing any sign of winter dryness. The fruity description of this treatment made me think I’d leave smelling like a bag of Skittles. However, the products are totally organic and have a mellow, natural scent. I can’t help but enjoy the subtle citrus aroma that remains. $75 for 45 minutes (1401 W Hubbard St, 312-492-8050).—Erin Osmon