Taking Care of Mama: Tighten My TummyBy
Update: You can see more pictures of wrap results for wraps two to four for my tummy and one wrap for my chin here. The progress in just three wraps is amazing!
I’ve blogged about my issues with hormonal balance before. I had a miscarriage in Feb 2012 that kicked off a lot of not so fun things. One of those not so fun things is an increasingly disproportional belly. On top of that, thanks to being short-waisted and giving birth to a bouncing ten-pound baby boy AND having lost over 100 pounds, the skin on my stomach is shot. It hangs and jiggles. I hate it. If I were just dealing with a little excess fat, it would be ok. But the excess skin combined with the excess fat is a major issue.
Before my son was born, I was a solid stretch mark from hip to hip and from pelvic bone to three inches above my belly button. My whole stomach was red. They have, of course, faded over time, but they prevented my stomach from being able to really bounce back and once again look proportional. Most women I have discussed it with say they also have the same problem- excess tummy skin after having kids. I’ve been determined to get rid of the sag without resorting to cosmetic surgery.
If a fairy showed up and would grant me one wish, I would wish to get rid of my excess abdominal fat and skin, I hate it so much. It controls the clothes I can wear, what activities I do and makes me self-conscious any time I’m out in public. I won’t wear a bathing suit and it’s keeping me from having fun with my kids.
They wanted to take swim lessons this Summer and I made excuses for signing them up because I didn’t want to put on a bathing suit at all costs, much less go out in public in one. That’s when I realized, something has to change. I’ve got to take care of me.
Simply put, my goal is to look proportional and no longer have anyone ask me if I’m pregnant. How’s that for blunt? Embarrassing, yes, but there it is. And I KNOW I’m not alone in that. Out of all of my closest friends who have had children, more than one has complained about being asked their due date when they aren’t expecting. Many more have complained about the flabby skin. It doesn’t take much to find a woman who complains about looking 4-5 months pregnant when she is not and I many more few moms who don’t dislike the loose skin they have goin’ on. In a quick survey of my 20 closest friends, all but two have loose skin from having kids.
As someone who has dealt with infertility and whose baby is now 8 and I’d love to have another one, it’s pretty painful to be asked if you’re pregnant. But even if you’re not wanting another baby, it’s very embarrassing to have people assume you’re pregnant when you aren’t. When complete strangers come up and ask when you’re due and you can point to your youngest and say ‘8 years ago,’ it’s pretty humiliating, especially if they do it in front of other people. If I could get the loose skin to tighten, I believe I wouldn’t look pregnant anymore.
Currently, I’m a size 8 in tops but a size 12 in bottoms due to my waist– my hips aren’t disproportional like my waist. I wish to also be a size 8 in bottoms so I look more balanced. I’d LOVE to kick the jiggle to the curb!
Recently, two jiggle-no-more friends of mine, both having 4 or more children, told me about how they got rid of their jiggle using It Works! Ultimate Body Applicator Wraps. I was interested but I hesitated because I wasn’t familiar with the product. Since you tend to develop more loose skin the more kids you have, they had my attention. I wanted to take time to look up the ingredient list. It took several months of seeing how my friend’s jiggle was staying off plus the approach of swimsuit season with my kids to finally convince me to get on that research.
Now that the research is done, I decided to share it and my results with you. I’m so thrilled with the results that I decided to join their team so I could get the products at a discount. I will continue to blog through this journey so you can see the cumulative effects.
How the Wraps Work
One of the habits I’ve developed is that I always read labels- par for the course for a real foodie, right? If I can’t pronounce it, if I don’t know what it is, it’s not going on or in my body. For ingredients I’m not familiar with, I always do a little reading and check out the EWG database before proceeding.
I was resistant to trying It Works! Ultimate Body Applicator Wraps despite having two natural-minded mom-of-many friends permanently reduce their size and become more proportional because of the ingredients. Some of the ingredients aren’t a 0-2 on the EWG database. However, I did some research on each ingredient and I finally decided that the occasional exposure to tiny amounts of these ingredients wasn’t as much of a long-term risk to my health as the stress the flab was inducing. And it certainly isn’t worth making my kids miss out on activities they want to do! While I am very careful about my exposures to non-natural ingredients, I believe there are times the benefits are worth the risks and this is one of those times.
The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database rates both finished products and individual ingredients for the toxicity based on the available studies and information. Their database is very large, having over 64,000 entries. In this scoring a 0-2 is a low hazard, a 3-6 is a moderate hazard and a 7-10 is a high hazard. So we want to see ingredients have low scores, with a zero being ideal.
The ingredients in the wraps and their EWG scores are:
Water (Aqua) – 0
Glucose – 0
Caprylic /Capric Triglyceride – 0
Glycerin – 0
Alcohol Denat – 0
Stearic Acid – 1
Stearyl Alcohol – 1
Ceteareth 12 – 3-7, depending on use
Aesculus hippocastanum (Horse Chestnut) Seed Extract – 0
Urea – 0
Centella asiatica (Hydrocotyl) Leaf Extract – 0
Camellia sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract – 2
Fucus vesiculosus (Bladderwrack) Thalle Extract – 0
Hedera helix (Ivy) Leaf Extract – 0
Equisetum arvense (Horsetail) Leaf/Stem Extract – 0
Ruscus aculeatus (Butchers Broom) Root Extract – 0
Paullinia cupana (Guarana) Seed Extract – 0
Simmondsia chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil – 0
Decyl Oleate – 0
Magnesium Aluminum Silicate (also known as fuller’s earth or kaolin clay) – 1
Glyceryl Stearate – 1
PEG 7 Glyceryl Cocoate – 0
Tocopheryl Acetate – 3
TEA-Hydroiodide – 2
Methylsilanol Mannuronate – 0
Menthol – 1
Camphor – 2
Panthenol – 1
Phenoxyethanol – 3
Retinyl Palmitate – 8
Triethanolamine – 5
Carbomer – 0
Rosmarinus officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Oil – 0
Eucalyptus globulus (Eucalyptus) Leaf Oil – 0
Caprylyl Glycol – 0
Sorbic Acid – 3
BHT – 6
Limonene – 6
Linalool – 5
So let’s look at the items that scored a 3 or above.
- Ceteareth 12 scored a 3-7, depending on use. As best I can tell, the reason why it was given this rating is that it is a penetration enhancer. In this case, we want to see the lotion penetrate the skin as deeply as possible to enhance absoprtion of the active ingredients and get all the way through the skin.
- Tocopheryl Acetate is Vitamin E. Its score was a 3. Some people have allergic reactions to this ingredient, hence its rating.
- Phenoxyethanol rated as a 3. It is a preservative that shouldn’t be used in products that go on, in or near the mouth.
- Retinyl Palmitate you would recognize as Vitamin A. The concern over Vitamin A is about its reproductive effects at high doses. It is a teratogen- it causes birth defects if taken orally in high doses while pregnant. Accutane, anyone? As this ingredient is near the preservatives (Rosemary and eucalyptus leaf oils), I don’t consume any sources of artificial vitamin A in my diet or supplements and it isn’t going into my mouth, I’m not concerned. Vitamin A products applied onto the skin have known effects to soften wrinkles and improve the look and texture of the skin, but the concentrations necessary for that effect are prescription products. However, people tend to shy away from ingredients that can cause birth defects when taken orally and I understand that. This ingredient is likely one of the reasons why the body wraps aren’t recommended during pregnancy. I’m not pregnant and not likely to get pregnant any time soon, so I’m not concerned about using it in skin-care products that have nonprescription concentrations.
- Triethanolamine rated as a 5. The highest concern was the potential for allergic reaction in some people with some secondary concern over reproductive toxicity in higher amounts. There are limits as to how much of this can be found in products, and because this is near the essential oils that act as preservatives, one could assume it is a low amount.
- Sorbic Acid rated as a 3 because it has the potential for allergic reaction.
- BHT rated as a 6. BHT is often used as a preservative in food products and it has a bad wrap from that. The studies and information I could find were on BHT that was consumed or inhaled and not applied to the skin. In looking over EWG’s assessment of this ingredient, their biggest concern is its allergenic potential. However, they do have some information on it potentially being able to cause cells to mutate at high doses. Since this is literally the only product in my house that contains BHT and it’s going on my skin and not in my mouth, I will accept the risk. Since it appears to be dose dependent, I’m ok with that. I imagine you’d get more BHT exposure in one fast food or restaurant meal than in a lotion, but that’s just a guess.
- Limonene rated as a 6. As its name implies, it comes from citrus skins. The concern is its allergenic potential as undiluted citrus oils on the skin can cause reactions in some people. As this is the second to last ingredient, it isn’t a high concentration.
- Linalool is rated as a 5, also due to its allergenic potential.
So as we can see, most of the ingredients that scored as a 3 or above are due to their allergenic potential and are at the end of the ingredient list. So I would say the recommendation to use the wrap for only 45 minutes the first time is justified and acceptable. If you don’t have a reaction, then you can wear the wraps for longer periods of time in subsequent uses.
Considering that my other personal care products are all a 0-2 on the EWG list and the potential I have to gain in trying the product, I’m willing to accept exposure to these few ingredients as use of the wraps is limited to once every 3 days and it isn’t done perpetually- once you achieve the results you wish, you can then just use one on occasion to encourage skin firming.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, they’re just my research on the historical use of the herbs and what current scientists are finding in their labs. Let’s look at each herb in the wrap.
- Horse Chestnut isn’t related to the chestnuts that you eat. According to the NIH’s Medline Plus, it is effective for improving the circulatory system.
- Hydrocotyl Leaf is also known as Gotu Kola. It also increases circulation according to the American Cancer Society. Historically, it is used to increase circulation and enhance memory.
- Green Tea is commonly used in natural skin care products today due to its antioxidant content.
- Bladderwrack is a seaweed harvested from the Atlantic Ocean. It is historically thought to increase skin elasticity and thickness. Recent studies in Japan have suggested good results from its use. It is recommended to not use it orally during pregnancy or nursing due to its high iodine content.
- Ivy Leaf, sometimes called English Ivy, is one of my favorite herbs. Personally, we use ivy leaf syrup as a cough syrup during colds to allow us to rest at night and I’m very happy with how well it works. Historical uses have pointed towards it being used to increase circulation in addition to its decongestant and respiratory effects.
- Horsetail is thought to be the most abundant plant source of silica and is in a highly absorbable form. It was thought to stimulate production of collagen, which encourages skin elasticity. It is astringent, antioxidant and thought to benefit circulation, as well.
- Butchers Broom is thought to improve circulation. Historically it was used as a treatment for varicose veins and other similar disorders.
- Guarana Seed is revered by the natives of Brazil. It is thought to be stimulating.
I decided to sign up for the loyal customer program and try the It Works! Ultimate Body Applicator Wraps. That allows me to get the wraps for $59 a pack of four wraps with a 3 month commitment instead of $99 a pack with no commitment. Each pack contains 4 wraps, and the four used together is considered one treatment.
I decided I needed to give the wraps a decent try and stick with them, even if I didn’t see immediate results. I know several people who have used them with excellent results, but I met some others who had to use several wraps before they really started seeing results and several of those women mentioned they were riddled with stretch marks, just like me. So I decided to stick it out and keep going even if I wasn’t seeing lots of improvement at first.
The Fine Print
If you wish to buy just one pack to try out, you can purchase them at retail. That’s $99+ taxes and shipping for one pack of four applicators with no further commitment, no auto-bill, nothing like that.
The packs at the loyal customer price are $59 apiece (each containing four wraps) and I also had to pay taxes ($4.41) and shipping ($3.95) so each pack cost a grand total of $67.36. I knew that if I stuck with the auto-ship, after four shipments I’d be able to use bonus points to purchase product. I also knew that if I stuck with it for four months, I’d get free shipping on any future product purchases. But the minimum number of shipments is 3 or they charge you a $50 cancellation fee when you sign up for the loyal customer program.
At any rate, I didn’t feel that $202 over three months was a bad investment to move some of this jiggle off of my belly, firm myself up and become more proportional. All of the details, including how to cancel the auto-renew, are printed in plain English on the receipt and on the site before you commit.
How to Wrap
The wraps come four to a pack, and one pack is considered one treatment. The wraps should be used at least 72 hours apart. Of course, they recommend you eat a sensible diet while wrapping and exercise if you can. I chose not to change my exercise routine and to maintain my normal diet in order to not skew the results, as I’m not currently doing anything towards trying to lose weight or tighten the jiggle. They also recommend that you drink half your weight in ounces of water per day for 72 hours after the wrap. In other words, a 150 pound woman would drink 75 ounces of water a day. I found out how critical that is because I had dizziness and headaches from not drinking enough fluid, but more about that below.
First, you want to measure yourself and take pictures. You’ll want to measure about 2 inches above your abdomen, at your belly button, and about 2 inches below your belly button, around the fullest part of your lower stomach.
I put the tape measure around the fullest part of the area I’m measuring, look in a mirror to make sure the tape is level on both sides and front to back, then take a marker and put a mark on each side of my body so later I can get the tape in the exact same spot. Then I read the number off of the tape, while making sure it’s just laying against me, not tight, no pulling the tape, and making sure it isn’t slack anywhere. You just want it laying against your skin.
The wraps are simply a thin sheet of plastic with a lotion on one side. Open up the package and unfold the wrap, lotion side up. Apply it to where you want it to be, smooth out the wrinkles, then use a layer of plastic wrap to hold it in place or put on some tight clothing to keep it there. I covered it with just a little plastic wrap to keep the lotion from getting onto my clothes, then I put on a pair of bike shorts to keep it in place while wearing it. The lotion does have jojoba oil in it, so I didn’t want the extra laundry of removing oil spots on the clothes. Some people prefer to put it on before bed and sleep in it beginning with their second wrap.
When you take off the wrap, you’ll want to take any lotion remaining on your skin and rub it in before getting dressed.
I only wore the first wrap for an hour then took it off, to make sure I wouldn’t have a bad reaction to the ingredients, as recommended. I left the second wrap on for 6 hours.
Through the six days, I gained 1 pound but my size 12 skirts began feeling loose. So you can see that I didn’t lose any weight, it just tightened up the jiggle. I’m THRILLED!!! This is the first time in years that I have felt good about my body!
PLEASE NOTE: Update July 2016 – I did my initial wraps on my stomach over 3 years ago. Since then, industry regulations have changed and I can therefore no longer share those old pictures.
So in lieu of those pictures, I will show you my most recent wrap result, which was done on my chin, after a 40 pound weight loss in 6 months. These pictures were done in March 2016.
I am leaving the original text of using my first wraps, so you can see my experience at the time. I will post new pictures of my stomach as soon as they are available.
I didn’t take pictures before my first wrap, but I wish I had. Truth be told, I was too embarrassed. I thought I’d never be willing to post pictures of myself on the internet, but once I saw the results from the first wrap, I quite quickly became enthusiastic.
Here’s the picture taken before my second wrap on June 8 coupled with the after picture on June 11, seventy-two hours later. Lest anyone say it’s the difference between relaxing and sucking in your stomach, I decided to do pictures of both. June 8 is on the left in the pink shirt, June 11 on the right in the blue shirt. I’m wearing the same shorts in all of the photos.
It has definitely pulled my belly button up and is tightening the skin. It did pull my fat roll up, but I was told by multiple people that is normal and will change soon if I keep wrapping. I’m definitely going to keep going and I’m THRILLED with the changes!!
Why Water is Critical To Wrapping Success
The interesting thing is that while wearing the wrap, I developed a headache and some dizziness. I was on a very long phone call and I wasn’t drinking water as I normally do and as instructed to do when wrapping. Increasing my water intake stopped it. And when I washed my face the morning before the second wrap, I didn’t have any zits or sore spots. Yet over the day I had several deep, very painful zits come up on my face. If I’m going to get acne, it normally develops overnight or when I’m asleep, not during the day. So it definitely was stirring something up.
But Does it Last?
Judging from my friend’s results, the It Works! Ultimate Body Applicator Wraps do produce permanent skin-tightening results IF you take care of yourself and continue to eat a nourishing diet. Of course, a nourishing diet feeds the skin and entire body. I’ll be blogging this journey and the aftermath, so we’ll see how well I’m able to maintain the results over time.
Of course, everyone will have different results and the company doesn’t guarantee a particular result for you.
You’re Just Losing Water Weight
Water weighs 8.34 pounds per gallon. The old saying ‘a pint’s a pound the world around’ is a good guideline because it is close. One pint of water, or two cups, weighs 1.04 pounds.
I would think if I lose enough water to make a multiple-inch difference in my body, my weight would have changed! I didn’t lose any weight, you can see in the table above that I gained one pound. And losing water weight doesn’t last for a long time, you rebound pretty quick back up to your prior measurements. If it were water, I imagine I’d have rebounded in 6 days, especially since I’m drinking about 80 ounces of water a day while wrapping!
Cheater, Cheater, Pumpkin Eater
The directions say to only use each It Works! Ultimate Body Applicator Wraps once, but I saw online where people recommended using the same wrap twice. Follow the instructions for use, then re-fold the wrap and place it into a zip-top bag, being sure to squeeze all of the air out of the bag before sealing it up. Then use it for your next wrap session three days later. The thought process is that as long as the wrap is saturated with the lotion, it is good for use. I did notice that the wraps have an ample amount of lotion on them and it was never a problem to re-use them.
I also saw where some people would take a used wrap, store it, then cut it into pieces and use it on a different part of the body. For example, I saw some people who would use it first on their abdomen, then after 72 hours, cut the wrap in half and use it on their thighs. Or cut it into six pieces and use it on their chin. Personally, I do plan to eventually wrap my chin, so that might be an option for me. However, to really test out the wraps, I decided to use them only on my biggest problem spot, my belly, for now. I’ll eventually try them on other areas of my body and report the results with pictures.
I’m Thrilled! It Does Work!
At $202.08 for 12 It Works! Ultimate Body Applicator Wraps and you get 24 uses out of them, that works out to be $8.42 a wrap at the loyal customer price, including the taxes and shipping I had to pay. Contrasting that with the belly cream I had been using for a while that claims to tighten one inch per month and costs $80 for a one month supply, I’ll stick with the wraps!
I was practically giddy after measuring on June 8th when it had been 72 hours and was time for my second wrap. I was THRILLED to see so much change in a short space of time because everything else I’ve been trying has required a long time to work and takes more time on my part.
I loved the results so much that I decided to sign up to become a distributor for It WORKS! myself. I am going to continue wrapping and reporting my results here on the blog, including pictures, so you can see how it turns out.
Try Them For Yourself!
If you’d like to look at the wraps, click here to be taken to my site. I’ve been so completely pleased with my results that I hope you’ll try them out and let me know how much skin tightening and stretch mark shrinking you see happen!
If you’d like to try a wrap before you make a commitment, you can contact me.
If you need help picking out products, please don’t hesitate to comment or contact me and I’ll help you pick out what fits your needs.