Happy New Year everyone! I hope everyone had a safe and restful holiday, and that 2012 brings you good health and happiness.
As some of you know, I have always had a personal history of very dry, sensitive skin, and as a result, winter is not always a season I look forward to with fondness as I know that the tight, itchy skin accompanies. This winter is a particularly dry one, and while I am sure most of you are moisturizing like crazy right now and turning on humidifiers in your bedrooms at night, it occurred to me that many of you might not know about the simplicity of a bath in helping your skin.
Sea salt as a tool for healing the skin has been known about throughout history, and is a long-standing treatment for skin disorders. The Dead Sea specifically and the high concentration of salt in it allowing you to float on its surface has often been used to heal the skin (in addition to many other conditions).
What about sea salt is so beneficial?
Recent research suggests that sea salt with a higher proportion of magnesium actually helps to restore moisture to the skin surface. A group of patients with atopic dermatitis submerged one forearm with regular water and the other with Dead Sea salt high in magnesium, and over the period it was noticeable that the arm submerged in sea salt had a higher moisture retention, reduced inflammation, and improved skin barrier compared to the arm in normal water. So, getting away to the sea and going away for a vacation to the sun and salt water in the winter is now making more sense, yes?
Making your sea salt getaway in the tub at home
- Make sure it is sea salt (this may also be salt from the dead sea if you can get!). Sea salt can be found at most pharmacies in large stones, in a bag for 5 dollars. Epsom salts or magnesium salts will really sting raw or dry skin are not the same as magnesium-rich Dead Sea Salt, so avoid epsom salts for open sores and go with sea salts which will sting temporarily but will heal long-term and you will feel very soft after your bath!
- Dissolve 2 cups of sea salt in hot water and let dissolve in a separate bowl before adding to your bath. (you may need to pour off the saturated salt water and refill the bowl to fully dissolve all the salt)
- Add the mixed salty water to your bath. The water should taste a little salty, but not so much that it is stinging. Enjoy for 30 minutes, bring a book, listen to music, light a candle (hopefully in a glass container away from the water!)
- After 30 minutes and you are ready to get out of the tub, you can rinse off a bit of the salt in lukewarm water, but very briefly as you do not want to eliminate the benefits you have just received!
- Pat yourself dry and cover your damp skin with moisturizer immediately. You want to trap the water into your skin surface and protect that with a good moisturizer.
Urquhart C. Bathing in a magnesium-rich Dead Sea salt solution improves skin barrier function, enhances skin hydration, and reduces inflammation in atopic, dry skin.
Int J Dermatol. 2005 Feb;44(2):151-7.