January 29, 2010

The Truth About Bath Salts

We've all heard that too much salt in our diet can be a bad thing. A little for seasoning (unless you have been restricted by your doctor) is a good thing as many salts contain trace minerals like calcium and iron. My Nana used to say, "Moderation in all things and you'll live a long life." When it comes to using salts for bath therapy, I believe more is better.

Why use salt in your bath? Some benefits include soothing stressed muscles, easing the symptoms of skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema and helping to draw out toxins. Think natural healing mineral baths or hot springs that people flock to for help with any number of ailments. Not to mention the soothing aromatherapy effects of soaking in a scented salt bath. Salts change the osmotic balance of the water so that less water is absorbed by the skin through osmosis, thus reducing the pruning effect you might experience after soaking in the bath and effectively softening the skin.

Types of commonly used bath salts:
  • Epsom Salts (magnesium sulfate for body detox, sore muscles and skin ailments)
  • Sea Salt (sodium chloride contains therapeutic trace minerals)
  • Dead Sea Salt (contains a multitude of natural beneficial minerals)
  • Sodium Bicarbonate (baking soda softens the water, soothes itchy skin)
  • Sodium Sesquicarbonate (alkalinity source that helps soften water)
There are many types of exotic salts that may be incorporated into salt bath therapy such as:
  • Hawaiian Red Alaea - Rich in trace minerals and iron oxide.
  • Himalayan Pink - Ancient deposits of this crystal salt are mined from deep inside the Himalayan Mountains and provide beneficial amounts of 84 trace elements & iron.
  • Organic Grey Sea Salt - Organic sea salt from the Isle of Noirmoutier undergoes no treatment after harvesting allowing it to keep its essential nutrients.
  • Cyprus Black Sea Salt: Crystal salt pyramids that are mixed with activated charcoal to increase the natural detoxifying properties of the salts.
Bath salts are available on nearly every drug store or grocery shelf these days. Though all products are not created equal and some use more of the fillers than the beneficial salts, most serve the purpose of relaxing and soothing while you bathe. Whether you prefer scented, moisturizing or herbal bath salts your options are fairly limitless.

You can make your own simple bath salt mixture with Epsom salt or sea salt. Just throw a cup or two into warm running bath water and get in when the salts are dissolved. Add some fragrance or essential oil and a few drops of vegetable or nut oil (olive, sunflower and macadamia nut are all good choices). Be careful getting out of your bath if you add oils as the tub can get slippery. For best results it is suggested that you soak for about 20 minutes and use a good lotion or cream after drying off to help retain skin moisture.

January 20, 2010

Spa Therapy

We all need a bit of TLC once in a while and indulging in a bit of spa therapy might just be the ticket to beat the winter blues. If you can afford to go to a spa and partake of their many and varied services, by all means do so. Some spas, like Canyon Ranch, offer everything from manicures to a full week of restorative treatments, nutrition counseling and more. If you feel the need to spa but don't want to spend the money or time try creating a quick in-home spa experience.

What you will need:
scented candles
relaxing music
exfoliant (sugar or salt scrub)
mineral soak, oils or bubble bath
massage oil or moisturizer
cozy bathrobe and towels

Now that you have your accouterments make sure you have at least an hour to yourself without interruption. Turn off your cell phone and tell your family you're not to be disturbed. Pour a glass of wine or get a chilled bottle of mineral water, go into your bathroom and lock the door. Turn your music on low, dim the lights and light a few candles. Spa time!

The first thing I do is run a warm bath with a moisturizing mineral soak or bubble bath so it's ready when I want to step in the tub. While the bath is filling I use this time to exfoliate. I have a separate shower/bath, if you don't you can just wait to run the bath when you're done with your treatment. Step into your shower to moisten your skin and use your selected scrub to buff away dry, dull skin cells from top to bottom using gentle circular motions to help stimulate blood circulation. Don't forget to give special attention to elbows, knees and feet. Rinse the scrub off with warm water.

Time to sink into a scented tub of soothing water and soak for about 20 minutes. That should be enough time to drink your wine or mineral water and let the cares, aches and pains of the day fade away. When you're done with your soak, lightly pat your skin dry and apply your choice of moisturizer. If you're lucky to have someone willing to give you a massage, go for it. If not you can use a gentle kneading motion when you apply your lotion to further relax and rejuvenate your muscles. Use a good foot cream and slip on a pair of cotton spa socks, slide into your warm, cozy robe and you'll be ready to drift off for a well deserved nap or a good night's sleep.

It's easy and inexpensive to treat yourself to a relaxing spa experience. You can add additional treatments like pedicures and manicures, facial steams, face and body masques and hair treatments. Spa days will help you refresh your outlook and relax your body, mind and spirit. It does take some scheduling in our busy lives, but of course, you know you're worth it!