It Works body wraps repeatedly popped up on my radar over the past year after receiving emails from readers of my blog and from colleagues asking what I thought of the product.
In my research, I found a disproportionately high number of spammy sales sites which were clearly biased to sell the product and comparatively few reliable reviews.
Some high-ranking reviews try to look reputable, but their sole purpose is to get you to click on affiliate links for some other miracle supplement or potion (here are two spammy review examples here and here).
In light of all the rubbish information out there, I decided to take the time to write an independent and unbiased It Works review current as of April 2017. Disclosure: there are NO spammy affiliate links in this article, but there are Google Adsense blocks over which I have no control.
The company website makes claims that their wraps can “tighten, tone, and firm” your body by minimising the appearance of cellulite and improving skin texture and tightness, all in a space of 45 minutes.
This sounds like great marketing, but is there any evidence that the product can live up to the hype? Will these wraps give you the body of your dreams? Will they cause weight loss?
When it comes to “results,” you have to consider your own personal expectations against what the product ingredients are actually able to do.
In this independent no-conflict-of-interest review, I will critically evaluate the company’s marketing claims and provide my no-hype conclusion at the end.
What are they?
Like most MLM products, the idea is simple enough: sell wraps, get your friends to join as wrapreneurs, and make money from ongoing downline sales.
It Works is comprised of a suite of three products:
- The Ultimate Body Applicator
- Fab Wrap
- Defining Gel (the gel has most of the same ingredients as in the wraps but is used without the wrap like a thigh cream)
Product literature advises users to apply the Ultimate Body Applicator to different parts of the body (see image) and then wrap with “Fab Wrap” to hold the applicator in place for the 45 minute duration.
Users are instructed to reapply the product after three days (72 hours). There are four applicators in a pack so you have about 12 days worth of product if you were looking to use them consecutively.
Product marketing claims
As stated above, the company makes a number of marketing claims mostly centered about potential changes you might experience in your physical appearance, stating that you can “expect ultimate results” (whatever that means).
Specifically, the company states their body wraps can:
- Tighten, tone, & firm
- Minimize cellulite appearance
- Improve skin texture & tightness
- Show results in 45 minutes
- Give progressive results over 72 hours
There are 40 ingredients listed for the wraps (see image). Unless you’re a qualified botanist or organic chemist, you’re probably going to have a pretty rough time trying to pronounce the names (i.e., Aesculus hippocastanum, Equisetum arvense, and methylsilanol mannuronate).
But what are these ingredients and what the heck do they actually do?
I sat down and looked up each of these ingredients and, when taken as a whole, they will exert a number of effects on the body that will cause temporary cosmetic skin tightening, moisturisation, and a bit of sweating (helped along by the physical presence of a barrier between your skin and the atmosphere.
If this sounds familiar to those thigh creams from several years ago, you’d be right. They also use similar ingredients with similar effects but, as is the case with It Works, they are only able to induce a temporary cosmetic change in the skin, not cause fat or weight loss.
All natural ingredients?
It Works advertising emphasises that its products contain all “natural ingredients.” This is true, some of the ingredients are as natural, as if they came out of the ground or of the tree.
But there are other ingredients such as PEG-7 glyceryl cocoate which, according to Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep website, is a synthetic polymer derived from coconut oil. It is used as a skin conditioning agent, emollient, and surfactant/emulsifying agent (helping ingredients mix together). They also add that “due to the presence of PEG, this ingredient may contain potentially toxic manufacturing impurities such as 1,4-dioxane” (sorry to all my tree-hugging hippie friends for ruining all the fun!).
Having said that, I have studied organic chemistry and I know that many of these chemical-ish sounding names are not as scary as they look. Plus the relatively small amounts found in the wraps probably won’t do much harm (see my discussion below on adverse reactions).
Is there any scientific research?
I have not seen any peer-reviewed scientific studies on It Works, but would be happy to consider them for this review if they do exist.
While the company doesn’t claim there are any studies, they seem to be more fixated on highlighting testimonials.
The only thing about testimonials is that “results” can mean virtually anything to anyone, and there is no way to determine if “results” were due to the product or the person dieting and exercising.
Carefully controlled studies would define an outcome to be measured and then use experiments to determine if any results were due to the product or other factors.
For the interested reader, I discuss research factors in greater detail in my Athlete Recovery Sleepwear article
Evaluation of product claims
Do It Works wraps really work?
As I stated in a previous article on body wraps, whether or not It Works wraps actually “work” depends on your individual expectations and definition of “works.”
There are numerous mixed reviews across the internet, with some users saying the product did nothing for them and others shouting from the roof tops that the wraps are the best thing since sliced gluten-free, sugar-free, fat-free, organic paleo bread. Also beware of sham reviews which are just trying to leverage off of It Works’ popularity so they can sell you more rubbish you don’t need (examples here and here).
As a word of caution, the product is wrapped around a multi-level marketing business model. There are a large number of distributor promotional “review” sites, videos, and social media pages, so you must be careful when taking on board their testimonials given their vested financial interest in selling the product. This is not to say they don’t believe what they’re saying, but it is something to keep in mind.
Expectations: Weight / fat loss vs. skin tightening
In looking at numerous user reviews across different websites, there are a lot of people who bought the product in hopes of losing weight.
Ok, right. Good luck with that.
Now here’s the part where I smack you in the face with a wet fish of reality. When it comes to body wraps, you need to check your expectations at the door.
Body wraps DO NOT BURN FAT. They will not cause you burn fat, lose fat, strip fat, shred fat, singe fat, fry fat, trim fat, contour or sculpt away fat (or any other fat-burning marketing descriptor du jour).
Still with me?
Most slimming product companies have smart enough lawyers that keep them from making overtly false claims. In this case, they have NOT overstepped the bounds of legality and nowhere did they specifically state that their wraps will cause “weight loss” or “fat loss.”
If you believe it’s a fat or weight loss product, then you have only misled yourself and might find yourself disappointed.
The ingredients in the wraps might cause a temporary localised tightening and moisturising effect on the skin where you applied the applicator, but you should not confuse this with long-term and lasting weight/fat loss results that can be accomplished by healthy lifestyle changes alone (without the assistance of any wraps and creams).
In fact, the company even states in its literature that if you’re overdosing on a daily ration of cheeseburgers and butt-on-the-couch TV shows, then you’re probably not going to get the “results” you’re shooting for.
While results from the Ultimate Body Applicator are lasting, you can counteract the results from the Ultimate Body Applicator by eating poorly and not regularly exercising (as is true with any weight loss or body contouring results).
The bottom line: It Works and other similar thigh slimming creams do not cause, or claim to cause, fat or weight loss.
Does it reduce cellulite?
Following on from above, there is no evidence that It Works wraps can reduce cellulite (i.e., burn fat or cause weight loss in the form of fat).
Because the product exerts a temporary cosmetic skin tightening effect, it could plausibly reduce the appearance of cellulite, but this is not the same effect as doing exercise and eating healthier to lose stored body fat.
How long do the results last?
The company states that it gives “results that last” but this is also a bit nebulous and may be subjectively defined by your individual perceptions. Questions I’d like answered would be:
- Exactly how long do the results last?
- Is it always 72 hours as stated on the website?
- Is this number based on research or anecdotal experience?
- Is this consistent for most people?
User reviews and testimonials
User ratings and testimonials can be found on the Amazon and RealSelf websites.
Reviews on RealSelf.com
On the RealSelf website, the user rating was 48% based on 136 reviews.
Reviews on Amazon.com
On Amazon, there are 1455 customer reviews and an overall satisfaction rating of 2.4 out of 5 which is consistent with the 48% found on the RealSelf site. However, it is interesting to note that a whopping 46% of respondents gave the product a 1-star rating and the other 54% are spread out over 2 – 5 stars.
As I said above, when looking at these review sites, you need to be aware of the possibility that distributors might be skewing these results by leaving positive reviews.
Are they safe?
In all fairness, there does not appear to be anything in the product that will do any overt harm to you. But given the massive ingredient list (40 different plant extracts, oils, alcohols, and chemicals), there is always the risk of an allergic reaction. There have been reports of allergic reactions on review sites, but no stack of dead bodies from what I could find.
If you have sensitive skin and find you’re generally susceptible to cosmetics, then you should consult with your doctor first to see if this product is right for you.
Where are they sold?
It Works wraps are mainly sold in the United States, but it also appears to be popular in the United Kingdom, Europe, and Australasia.
How much do they cost?
I’ve seen a large range of prices across the internet for the wraps. This is because some people pay more just for the wraps and don’t want anything to do with the multi-level marketing distributor side of things. Others join as “wrapreneurs” and get it as a discounted rate.
According to the RealSelf website, the average price spent for the body wraps was around $100 USD which includes all the various distribution outlets (i.e., from the company, a distributor, online marketplace, etc).
Autoship vs. one-off purchase (Caution)
There have been a number of online consumer complaints on the Better Business Bureau website about products being auto-shipped against the customers’ wishes. Looking at It Works’ responses to these complaints, it appears people did not read the fine print and found themselves on the short end of the stick.
There are two different ways to become a Loyal Customer:
- You can make a three consecutive month minimum commitment to a monthly auto-shipment order.
- You can enroll by making a $50 Membership Fee payment and placing a single order for product.
It works has a B+ rating with the Better Business Bureau which, all up, is really not too bad. As of this writing (April 2017), there have been over 300 complaints addressed by the Bureau over the past three years.
Is there a money-back guarantee?
In a single word: no. The company makes no guarantees that the wraps work. This basically means that once you try the product and it doesn’t work for you (or at least not to your expectations), then it’s sorry Charlie, no refund, better luck next time. Here is the passage from the company’s program rules:
- It Works! products produce different results for different people and It Works! does not guarantee specific results nor offer a money back guarantee. Customers should follow the directions with each product received.
Can you get a refund?
It Works does allow for a refund ONLY IF the product is unopened and unused. So to leave this in no uncertain terms, there is no product guarantee and you cannot get your money back if you’ve opened your product, tried it, and didn’t experience the desired results (a bit of a catch 22). According to the company’s program rules:
- To receive a refund, all products must be post-marked within thirty (30) days of the ship date and all items must be in an unopened, “new” condition. The customer is responsible for all return shipping costs.
If you’re an It Works distributor and you want to terminate your relationship with the company, then you can return any unused / unopened products for a refund.
Company address and contact details
If you are scouring various sites trying to get a hold of the company, I managed to do most of the leg work for you. You can try some of the following addresses and phone numbers below.
It Works Corporate Office Address
5325 State Road 64 East
Bradenton, FL 34208
It Works! Customer Service Team
908 Riverside Drive
Palmetto, FL 34221
US/Canada Customer Service Hours:
Monday – Friday 6:30 a.m. ET – 8:00 p.m. CT (GMT-6:00)
Saturday – Sunday 8:30 a.m. ET – 5:00 p.m. CT (GMT-6:00)
US/Canada Customer Service Numbers:
US Loyal Customers: 1-(800) 537-2395 or 952-540-5699
US Distributors: 952-540-5700 Canada: 1-855-560-1020
International Customer Service Hours:
Monday – Friday 6:30 a.m. ET – 11: 00 p.m. CT (GMT-6:00)
Saturday – Sunday 8:30 a.m. ET – 5:00 p.m. ET (GMT-6:00)
International Customer Service Numbers:
Australia: 1-(800) 750-398
United Kingdom: 0-(800) 098-8925
Want to become an It Works distributor?
If you’re more interested in selling the wraps, be sure to do your homework. A number of distributors have posted warnings to would-be sellers to be prepared for auto-shipments of at least $75/month, a $20/month charge to use the website (which apparently you can’t get a commission without it), a $50/year renewal fee, etc.
Ultimately, you will be participating in a multilevel marketing scheme (aka network marketing), even though they often try to distance themselves from the name. You will be your own boss running your own business and, as is the case in running a business, there are risks involved. If you’re down to your last $500 dollars and wondering how to pay the mortgage, then starting out as an independent distributor has much higher stakes. Tread carefully, get all the facts, and be prepared to accept the risks.
Take home message
There are a few key points about the wraps I’d like consumers to bear in mind.
First, whether or not the product “works,” depends on your own expectations. Online reviews are divided down the middle with slightly more negative reviews than positive ones.
Second, to be fair to It Works, I’d say the company is reasonably subdued in its marketing claims and has done a pretty good job with keeping it above board (i.e., not making any overtly deceptive or false claims).
Third, I note that some consumers think this is a weight loss product (their expectations based on their interpretation of advertising). I would therefore like for the company to be a bit more deliberate and transparent by explicitly telling their customers (or potential customers) that the products are not intended for fat or weight loss (i.e., skin tightening and localised dehydration are not the same as fat reduction).
Fourth, the product ingredient list is very long, but taken as a whole, it is probably safe for most people, spare the potential for a few localised allergic skin reactions.
Fifth, consumers should be aware there is no product guarantee and refunds will not be issued for used products (only unused, unopened products).
Sixth, if you don’t want your credit card to be automatically charged for autoshipped products, you need to be deliberate in following the company’s terms and conditions to the letter. Legally they have a leg to stand on, but you probably won’t have them on your Christmas card list!
In closing, I’d simply suggest that consumers fully educate themselves on the pros and cons of this product to ensure they make an educated decision in their purchase.