Beyond the Sea

For centuries, people have been flocking to the Dead Sea in search of the healing properties that saltwater provides. Today, those same healing properties can be found in myriad spa treatments and products. In addition to being a natural exfoliant, sea salt contains a number of therapeutic minerals, such as magnesium, which helps promote healing and relaxes the body; bromide, which soothes the skin; potassium, which is a natural moisturizer and helps prevent water retention; and sulfur, which helps detoxify. With all of these positive benefits, it is no wonder sea salt is a star ingredient on many spa menus, helping clients to keep their skin soft, smooth, and hydrated.

Exfoliating Experience

According to Tracey Archer, spa manager at The Spa at Sandy Lane (Barbados), using sea salt to exfoliate prior to wraps helps prepare the skin properly. "Sea salt is very beneficial before a wrap because it removes dead skin cells and allows the pores to open, which helps the products used during the treatment penetrate better," says Archer, who offers several treatments that include sea salts from Anne Semonin. Among the favorites is the Crushed Sea Salt Envelopment ($270, 90 minutes), a moisturizing body scrub experience that includes a therapeutic scalp and full body massage. To begin, warmed aromatic oils are applied over the entire body to soften the skin, followed by an invigorating exfoliation using sea salts, a warm body wrap, and a massage. According to Archer, this treatment is the ideal preparation for pre-tanning, leaving the skin hydrated and silky smooth.

Sea salt scrubs take center stage at Lincoln Avenue Spa (Calistoga, CA), where the scrub itself is the main treatment. Using a blend of natural sea salts, shea butter, herbs, and oils, the Salt Scrub ($95, 45 minutes) begins with the therapist massaging the mixture onto the client's body, paying special attention to rough spots, such as elbows and knees. Next, warm herbal towels are used to gently remove the salt, leaving skin glowing.

Hydrating Helper

In addition to being an ideal exfoliant, when combined with essential oils, sea salt helps moisturize the skin. At The Watermark Spa (San Antonio), one of the most popular treatments is the Purple Sage Salt Glow ($119, 50 minutes), which blends mineral-rich Dead Sea salts with citrus, rosemary, and sage essential oils to exfoliate, stimulate circulation, and leave the skin smooth.

As an add-on to any facial, guests at Kneaded Relief Day Spa (Fitchburg, WI) can opt for the Pumice Peel, a manual microdermabrasion treatment that contains refined white pumice crystals and works by removing dead cell layers and accelerating the turnover of new cells to stimulate collagen. Because the treatment is a little harsh on the skin, Bioelements's Seawater Catalyst is used afterward to soothe and hydrate. "It has a mild antibacterial action that provides an added benefit most tonics don't," says spa director Nichol Schumacher. "It not only nourishes the skin with added vitamins, minerals, and plant extracts, but the seawater also soothes."

Sea salt also plays a key role in many manicures and pedicures, leaving hands and feet feeling smooth and revitalized. At Le Petite Spa (Vancouver, Canada), the Signature Pedicure ($75, 75 minutes) includes a foot soak, callous removal, and a salt scrub prior to a paraffin treatment. The deep exfoliation from the scrub allows the paraffin to create a better seal around the feet, allowing products to penetrate deeper.

Detox Detour

Because it contains sulfur, sea salt can also be used in treatments designed to help clients detoxify their bodies. At Spa @ Face (Bangkok, Thailand), the Detoxifying Salt Powder Scrub ($30, 30 minutes) can be added to any treatment to better prepare the skin. The salt powder is combined with black sesame seeds for the ultimate purifying results.

Also as a prelude to an additional treatment, The Spa at Hilton Dubai Jumeirah Resort (United Arab Emirates) which offers the Detoxifying Body Wrap by Phytomer ($90, 60 minutes) incorporates a clay body mask and Dead Sea salts, creating a complete exfoliating experience that purifies and moisturizes the skin. The Spa at Sandy Lane also uses sea salt in its Detoxifying Body and Face ($270, 90 minutes) treatment, which combines sea salt mixed with botanical oil to produce the ultimate scrub to slough away dead cells before products are applied to keep the skin hydrated. "Our sea salt is sourced off of the island of Brittany, where the ocean is rich in trace elements due to the abundance of seaweed varieties," explains Archer. "This makes it not only remineralizing but it also helps to purify the skin and give it a glow, which is what all spa-goers desire."