The Most Natural Exfoliators, not for the squeamish. – Metta Murdaya

2 Sep

So much of the time we talk about how to best exfoliate skin, how get rid of the dead skin and impurities without drying out or scratching and irritating the skin, etc. Technology and natural botanicals can play together in the form of peels, scrubs, washes, etc. But if you’re an adventurous soul, come to Asia and try something different – experience the Garra Fish. Little fish that nibble on you and remove your dead skin cells. Your trash is someone else’s treasure, and not to mention, food. This, I thought, was the ultimate in sustainability and symbiosis. When I first put my feet in the pool swarming with these fish, I admit I was a bit skeeved. (That’s my leg in the picture!) Seeing fish swarm around, gravitating to an incoming leg the way goldfish swim to the surface when they see food was a bit disarming. I had an Empire Strikes Back flashback to the trash compactor scene where Luke and Lea have to contend with creepy crawlies swimming in the dark water they were wading in – except the walls weren’t closing in on me (oh yay.) I went with my cousin, and after taking a deep breath, we plunged our feet into the pool of these mini-piranha looking creatures. Yes, I cringed. Yes, I burst out in uncontrolled operatic yelps. Yes, I had to remind my cousin, “keep your hysteria down and for the love of not embarrassing ourselves, scream on the inside!” But after 5 minutes of thinking of pretty clouds and cute puppies, counting to 10 forwards and backwards to stop hyperventilating, I actually got used to the fish and quickly became fond of them. I was cheering them on, “More more! Eat more dead skin! Clean me up!” My cousin was looking fresh skin on her legs, dipping them deeper to attract more fish. After a while, it was really fun. We could see the fish nibbling on our legs, gobbling away, and they did look like they were kissing us rapidly. Admittedly, they were kind of cute. We were laughing and mesmerized. And after we left, our skin was not only incredibly wonderfully smooth, more so than if we used a body scrub – but was is not dry at all! That’s the best part. Body scrubs can either be drying or oily, but this gentle and FUN experience left our legs comfortably smooth. All we did was rinse our legs, put on our sandals, and be on our merry way.
Garra Fish / Fish Spa quick facts:
Origin: Hot springs near Kongal, Turkey
Good for: People who want to exfoliate skin, especially people with eczema, psoriasis. People who want a different experience. (Not good for the squeamish, but I still say worth a shot!)
How it got popular: Japanese and Koreans popularized the fish in the form of fish spas. Fish spas can be found also in Singapore, (where I was,) Malaysia, and China.
Where I went: Singapore: Kenko Fish Spa.
You can find these spas in other parts of Asia. If you have gone to one, tell us of your experience and where you went!
-METTA MURDAYA

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