Though by no means a new ingredient, salt is spicing up spas like never before. From salt rooms and caves to healing Himalayan salt crystals, tools, and beds to treatments and experiences that incorporate salt, sodium chloride is most certainly making waves. One of the hottest ways to sprinkle it into spas comes in the form of salt rooms and caves that incorporate halotherapy, or dry salt therapy. “When it is inhaled, the dry salt acts like a sponge, absorbing all the mucus, pollen, allergens, and foreign toxins that may be in the respiratory system,” says Leo M. Tonkin, CEO of The Salt Chamber and cofounder and chairman of the Salt Therapy Association. “It is also anti-inflammatory, so people with restricted airways find tremendous relief.” Sofia Benke, owner of The Salt Cave (multiple locations), says the particles also influence the integumentary system (skin, hair, nails, glands, and nerves). “Salt microparticles inhibit the growth or reproduction of bacteria, reduce swelling, and ease inflammation. The therapy results in pH normalization and better skin microcirculation.” Additionally, the salt penetrates deeply into the epidermal layers of the skin and absorbs any excess oils, which allows accelerated cellular growth of skin cells and improves skin rigidity, says Tonkin.
The Himalayan version of this mineral is proving to be a particular spa standout. Himalayan salt, mined from the Khewra Salt Mines in Pakistan, includes transparent, white, pink, red, and dark red salt crystals and contains 84 necessary minerals. As a design element, its particular benefits are multi-fold. “Himalayan salt, especially when heated, releases negative ions around its surface,” says Tonkin. “These ions alter the air around us to provide a more stress-free environment.” Plus, as Sue Harmsworth, founder and chairman of ESPA International, points out, “Its beautiful pink or reddish hue makes it especially attractive, which, along with the therapeutic benefits, is perfect for a spa environment.”
Used in the treatment room, Himalayan salt is also a spectacular healer. Saltabilty CEO Ann Brown says it is intriguing because it is so versatile and can be used cooled or heated, wet or dry, and is beneficial through touch but also through simple proximity.
“By adding Himalayan salt to a full-body massage, clients get additional heat to allow the organic trace minerals to penetrate into the skin and body,” she says. “It detoxifies, restores energy levels, improves skin conditions, purifies and remineralizes, provides relaxation, and increases alkalinity in the body.” Another unique Himalayan salt offering involves personal salt therapy concepts, like the Salt Chamber S.A.L.T. Bed Spa Table manufactured in partnership with Gharieni. It uses heated Himalayan salt crystals within a multi-positionable massage and treatment table, along with a halogenerator, to create the ultimate dry salt therapy experience.
But the story of salt goes well beyond the Himalayan variety. From head-to-toe, from sea salt to Epsom salt, and from scrubs to soaks, it’s an ideal ingredient for countless spa services. Harmsworth points out that adding Epsom salts to a warm bath soothes aching muscles while also removing impurities and toxins from the body. Steaming skin with saltwater prior to exfoliating enhances the effects by opening pores. Salt-scrub body exfoliation removes dead, dull skin cells to leave smooth, even-toned skin and a naturally healthy glow. Also effective is thalassotherapy, which according to Harmsworth, can boost the production of serotonin and melatonin to aid in relaxation and improve sleep, balance alkalinity in the body, counteract high levels of acid, and aid in healthy cellular function.
No matter how you shake it, salt therapy is a very safe, natural, and alternative modality for wellness and beauty. “So what’s the magic?” asks Benke. “It is simple, affordable, and it is proven to work in any shape and form.”