Danish author Isak Dinesen said it best when she wrote, “The cure for anything is salt water — sweat, tears, or the sea.”
Elemental, mineral, present in our bodies, our oceans, our meals; salt comes to us in many forms and is a necessary, healing, and tasty part of life. At G&G I utilize Pacific sea salts, Epsom salts, and Himalayan Pink salt in our soothing bath salt blends to elevate your soaks with nourishing herbs and relaxing scents.
But what effect does salt really have when used externally on our skin and bodies? To answer this question, I took a deep, salty dive into some scientific literature for you:
First, let’s take a look at the frequently soaked-in Epsom Salts
Put simply, Epsom Salts are a fancier name for crystals of magnesium sulfate.
Fun fact: The name Epsom comes from a town in England where naturally occurring magnesium sulfate-rich waters bubbled up from a spring underground.
While Epsom salts are often said to relieve muscle aches and pains, there is little to no scientific evidence to back this claim up. Our bodies do use magnesium for basic functions like cellular energy and metabolism, but we absorb this magnesium from food sources like leafy greens and bananas, rather than through the skin. The more likely explanation for Epsom baths relieving common aches and pains is the action of soaking in warm water to soothe and help our muscles relax.
There have been studies that point to the effectiveness of topically applied Epsom salts in supporting skin barrier repair. According to one study, “magnesium salts are known to bind water, influence epidermal proliferation and differentiation, and enhance permeability barrier repair.” Which is a lot of words to say, that mineral salts can help your skin retain moisture, and generally repair and take care of itself.
What about sea salt?
All of our bath salt formulas incorporate Pacific Sea Salt, right from the source of the big blue beauty that laps at the shores of our home island.
There have been several studies conducted on the effects of sea salt soaks used to aid skin conditions ranging from atopic dermatitis (eczema, or irritated, dry, itchy skin) to psoriasis. One study found that bathing in a mineral-rich sea salt solution significantly improved skin barrier function as compared to those subjects that bathed in regular tap water. Some salt water bathing effects noticed included improved skin hydration, as well as reduced roughness and redness. This research suggests that regular salty soaks may be beneficial for promoting soft, supple skin.
The real magic is in the soak itself.
I really believe Ms. Dinesen was spot on when she described salt as a sort of cure-all; it does incredible things for our bodies, inside and out. But she knew the real beauty and benefit is all in how you interact with it.
At G&G I talk a LOT about body care “practices”. These are the routines and rituals we lovingly create around the regular task of cleaning, grooming, and caring for our bodies. Our products serve as tools to help you craft body care practices that empower you to feel grounded, supported, and loved in your skin.
So yes, dipping your tired feet into a well-salted soak after a long day may help to soften some rough patches; but that’s really the sweet cherry on top of the time you carved out of your day to slow down, find a sense of presence, and perform an act of love and service for yourself. Our body care practices go a long way in building a healthy, caring relationship with ourselves that in turn makes us happier, healthier human beings overall.
Braving the initial chilly shock of diving headfirst into Alaska’s Pacific Ocean might leave you with softer skin and perfect beachy waves in your hair, but the really really good stuff is that feeling of total liberation that comes from shaking out the jitters, taking a deep breath, and running full steam ahead into the weightless embrace of the wild blue ocean.
Dip into the good stuff.
Consider the ways you can invite some salt therapy into your life. Find some sweaty movement for your body. Take a walk by the beach. Or, if you don’t have beach-access, find some ocean sounds on spotify or youtube to sit with (or perhaps pair with these salts to soak with) and relax a frazzled mind. Draw yourself a hot bath or foot soak and sprinkle it with a Deep Blue Sea, Rainforest, or Wildflower Bath Salt.
Stay well and stay salty.