The sea provides a cure for all man’s ills’, proclaimed Euripides, the classical Greek dramatist, nearly two millennia ago.
It certainly does wonders for our skin. Sea water purifies and nourishes, soothes and heals. Simply bathing in the sea can improve a variety of skin conditions from eczema and psoriasis to pimples and puffiness. What makes this salty solution so special?
Back in the early 1900s, a French doctor called Rene Quinton showed that live human cells soaked in sea water not only stayed alive, they also thrived. Sea water is not just a solution of salt. In composition it is uncannily similar to our own blood plasma and contains traces of essential minerals such as calcium, potassium, sodium, iron and zinc, plus a wealth of trace elements and organic substances.
Thalassotherapy (sea water) experts believe these marine elements may be taken up by the skin through osmosis and reach the bloodstream where they help to restore and preserve good health. But for optimal absorption the sea water should be warmed, preferably to around body temperature.
Thalassotherapy or sea water therapy is similar to other hydrotherapy treatments but filtered and warmed sea water is used in place of spring water. Thalassotherapy is harder to bring into the bathroom, so next time you are by the sea make the most of it.
- Wallow in the warmer, shallow pools.
- Stand thigh-deep in breaking waves for a stimulating massage.
- Wade through the water to firm up the muscles in the lower body, and take long, deep breaths of revitalising sea air.
Seaweed harvested from the purest marine waters is an integral part of thalassotherapy. This slippery sea vegetable is valued for an ability to promote weight loss, encourage deep cleansing, boost blood circulation and lymphatic drainage, and soothe muscular aches and pains. It is used to treat a variety of skin problems from dryness and acne to cellulite.
While there are some benefits to collecting seaweed from the beach, rubbing it into your body and hanging it in the bath, you will get better results from using the professionally prepared variety. For spa treatments, the seaweed cells are exploded by ultrasound to release the active ingredients and then pulverised to form a powder. The skin then draws from the seaweed the vitamins, minerals and trace elements it needs for optimum health.
Enveloppement d’algues’ or seaweed mask is a popular spa treatment. Warm seaweed paste is smeared over the skin from neck to toes, then your body is wrapped first in clingfilm and then in foil to seal in the heat. Warmth encourages the uptake of seaweed nutrients into the skin and encourages the elimination of wastes.