A few months ago, my husband and I got to spend a couple weeks in Indonesia. Though there were many, many wonderful experiences on the trip, the one I’ve been fixating on lately was the 3-hour mandi lulur spa treatment. While it was incredible at the time, after daily, fabulous, $5-10 massages, I’m not sure I was able to fully appreciate the luxury of the experience. What I wouldn’t give for one of those now! Even with all the rain we’ve had of late, I have that dry winter skin that’s calling out for a good exfoliation and deep moisture treatment. So… I decided to try to replicate it myself. The results weren’t quite the same, but they weren’t half bad!
The traditional lulur treatment consists of a long massage (1-2 hours), after which you are slathered with a bright yellow exfoliating paste and wrapped in a dark cloth or towel. Once the paste dries, you are rinsed and then rubbed with yogurt until all the paste is removed. You end with a soak in a hot tub filled with flower petals (marigold, jasmine, ylang-ylang, ginger and bougainvillea) while drinking ginger tea. Pretty incredible.
Historically, brides would undergo this treatment for 40 days prior to their wedding, to get the skin as healthy and pure as possible. Apparently, it’s still common practice, but generally only during the week leading up to the wedding. The massage, yogurt splash and bath are pretty self-explanatory, but here’s the info on the lulur scrub. Just mix the ingredients to a thick paste and rub into skin before your shower. Be careful not to come into contact with light-colored fabrics while you have the scrub on!
Rice for exfoliation: 1/2 cup ground rice or rice flour (I used a combo of rice flour and white rice that I ground in my coffee grinder to give a little more exfoliating texture).
Turmeric for nourishing and as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent: 1 tablespoon. Note that the bright yellow color will stain fabric (and also possibly temporarily color skin) and so only use dark cloths when working with turmeric.
Ginger for circulation: 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
Honey for nourishing skin and absorbing impurities: 1 tablespoon.
Ylang-ylang oil for lymph stimulation: a few drops. You can also use jasmine or sandalwood oil.
Milk for cleansing alpha and beta hydroxy acids: a couple tablespoons, or enough to form dry ingredients into a thick paste.
While I was playing kitchen chemist I mixed up a couple other body scrubs too, in case the bright yellow turmeric scares you off. The peppermint salt scrub is a vigorous, stimulating scrub that is not for the faint of heart. The sugar scrub is intoxicatingly fragrant and a little more soothing, but less invigorating.
Peppermint Salt Scrub 1 cup sea salts (I like to use a combination of coarse and fine salts)
3-4 tablespoons almond oil (or enough to coat the salt)
1 tablespoon dried peppermint
several drops peppermint oil
Chai Sugar Scrub
1/2 cup raw cane sugar
20 dried cardamom seeds, ground in a mortar and pestle
1 tablespoon grated ginger
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1-2 tablespoons cocoa butter (or other oil)