The Healing Properties of Seaweed Facials, Wraps and Baths

In many spa treatments, such as hydrotherapy baths, body wraps and facials one can find seaweed in some form. This is because of its therapeutic properties such as moisturizing, toning and hydration for the skin as well as its overall effect on detoxification of the body itself.

Seaweed is very rich in nourishing minerals such as magnesium, potassium, phosphorous and calcium as well as trace elements that include zinc, copper and iodine. These all can be absorbed through the skin. Seaweed is a broad term for all sea plants that live in the oceans and seas all over the world, be it microscopic algae to huge beds of kelp. Depending on the type of seaweed, it will have different properties.

Seaweed usually comes in the form of micronized algae when it is used in spas. In this form it delivers minerals in a significantly more concentrated form. The benefit of using seaweed in spa treatments are numerous. From revitalizing cells, which leads to anti aging effects, to anti inflammatory effects, which are fantastic for sensitive skin. It also helps with hydrating and moisturizing of skin.

Seaweed also helps with stimulating the body’s metabolism. This accelerates the body’s own detoxification processes.

All this, and more, is why seaweed is so heavily featured in body wraps, hydrotherapy baths and cellulite treatments. Some people dismiss the entire idea of treatments that support detoxification, but personally, I will never forget getting a seaweed hydrotherapy bath. This bath helped stimulate my lymphatic system after I had spent a night with far too much wine and heavy food. It was incredible how much better I felt after the therapy.

Seaweed At The Spa

It is highly likely that you will find many body treatments and facials at spas that are based on seaweed, especially if those spas are located somewhere by the ocean. Every spa will use a line that helps tell its story. An example of this would be the OH! Spa at The Ocean House at Watch Hill in Rhode Island. This spa carries Osea and Phytomer, which are both made with marine ingredients.

A country known for its sea spas that offer thalassotherapy, which is a type of therapy that uses seawater is France. All along the French Riviera as well as the coast of Britanny, you can find thalassotherapy spas which are a part of the European tradition of going to spas in order to restore and maintain your health. The Sofitel Thalassa Quiberon in Britanny has seaweed filled Olympic sized pools as well as body wraps that use real seaweed. As such, it is the largest thalassotherapy center in the world. There really isn’t anything comparable over the Atlantic, in the United States. Over there the seawater is bypassed and seaweed comes in micronized algae form which is then applied to the body using various products.

Why Is Seaweed So Good For Spa Treatments?

There is a very long tradition that connects the sea with good health. In fact, modern research has confirmed a lot of what people already knew intuitively. For instance, the clear part of our blood, the plasma, has a concentration of salt and other ions that is very similar to diluted seawater. Basically, it’s like we are walking around with our very own, private sea. As marine plants get their nutrients from seawater, they become concentrated storehouses for all the elements that can be found in the sea.

The reasoning behind seaweed treatments and thalassotherapy is that since our human bodies are so similar to the ocean in terms of mineral concentrations, they can „recognize“ and take up more easily the beneficial minerals and trace elements found in seaweed and seawater. For instance, during seaweed baths and wraps, minerals like magnesium, iodine, potassium, selenium and calcium as well as some trace elements are absorbed by our skin which allows the body to remineralize and rebalance our internal chemistry.

There are numerous example of seaweed treatments. These include seaweed wraps, where a warm, thich cream is applied to your body, usually after you undergo an exfoliating treatment like a body brushing or a body scrub. You are then wrapped up in a plastic sheet and a warm towel or blanket for roughly twenty minutes. Following this procedure you shower it all off in a stand up shower or on a table with a Vichy shower. Another examble is a seaweed bath, where micronized seaweed is added to the water in order to replenish essential minerals and elements and tone the skin.

The benefits of these treatments are vast and numerous. The seaweed will stimulate your metabolism, soothe your skin and remineralize your body as well as rebalance your internal chemistry. Furthermore, seaweed bath treatments and wraps also help with detoxification of your body. Seaweed promoted levels of calcium and magnesium will accelerate the elimination of trapped toxins and fluids that contribute to cellulite and cause inflammation. Seaweed treatments also help improve micro-capillary circulation which brings oxygen and fresh nutrients to the affected areas of your body. The result of this are healthier cells as well as skin that is firmer and more toned.

It is definitely advisable, though, to ask the spa which products are they using and then check the ingredients it contains online. For instance, with seaweed body wraps, a lot of spas will use a ready made product from Amber. This product uses seaweed extracts and French green clay as well as some synthetic ingredients which include PEG-100 stearate, parabens and dimethicone. In the event that this is what they’re using, I would recommend you give it a pass and instead have a seaweed bath.

How To Do Harness The Power of Seaweed At Home

There are numerous high quality marine based products for body and skin care that are carried in spas. This is why seaweed is found in numerous top quality skin and body care products such as Phytomer, THALGO and Creme de La Mer from France, Spa Technologies and Osea from the United States, Babor from Germany as well as VOYA from Ireland. One of the ways to try out and experiment with the healing properties of seaweed is to look for spas that carry one of those lines and try out body treatments and facials there.

You can, of course, also buy the products directly from the company that makes them and see how and if you like them. All these lines feature both body and skin care products but there are some recommendations on where to start.

One of the leading companies in this industry is THALGO. It was founded in 1964 in France and has been a supplier of micronized marine algae to French thalassotherapy centers ever since the early 70s. Their Micronized Algae Powder was the product that helped me personally with my miracle recovery, but you can also buy it for home use for roughly $50 for ten packs. It comes with three types of algae that will stimulate circulation, drain lymphatic fluid and remineralize. It is highly recommended!

Another strong contender is the French company Phytomer. It was founded in 1972 and they have created a proprietary seawater concentrate called Oligomer. It has optimum doses of 104 trace elements and minerals that fortify the epidermis and stop cellular fatigue. Oligomer serves as the basis for its body and skin products, but in many cases, such as with the Oligomer Silhouette Contouring Enhancer Marine Baths, it will also contain algae. This product costs around $100 for an eight pack.

Another company that offers an excellent mineral rich milky bath powder that is made with laminaria called Sea Cal that you can add to your bath is Spa Technologies. Sea Cal remineralizes, helps with drainage and helps with hydration, which makes it good for use combined with a slimming or a detox program. Follow it up by using Hydrating Laminaria Oil which is around $36 for six ounces or Seaweed Firming Cream, which is $79 for 8 ounces in order to extend the treatment.

A line based in California, called Osea, uses USDA certified organic and hand harvested seaweed that is gathered in Patagonia. They offer an Undaria Body Soft Set which includes an exfoliant algae oil for $84. Their Anti-Aging Body Balm that goes for $48 for six ounces is also fantastic.

The Walton family opened VOYA Seaweed Baths in Strandhill, Ireland in 2000. In doing so, they brought back the traditional bathhouses that were pretty much wiped out in 1965 when hurricanes and changing consumer tastes took over. From this bathhouse came the development of baths, skin, hair and body care products, all based on seaweed. Their first line was the seaweed bath Lazy Days that goes for $32 for 14 ounces, which is still a good place to start.

A high end French skin care line called Creme de la Mer turns fermented kelp into a proprietary „Miracle Broth“ which is used and liked by thousands of people. This skin cream goes for $310 for two ounces.

A German skin care company called Babor, has an extremely high end line of anti-aging face creams and serums called SeaCreation. They have combined „the effective anti-aging protein Glycoceane GP3 with BABOR thermophilus and exclusive Green Caviar Algae Extract to form the Sea-telligent Complex“. Their skin cream goes for $500 per ounce, but I did try out a small sample once and the results were amazing. Their claim that my skin would appear „firmer, smoother and youthfully fresh“ was absolutely spot on!

Making Sense of Seaweed

There is over 30 thousand species of algae that are further divided into familes based on their colors – green, red, white, brown and blue-green. Because of their different colors, they reflect different types of light as well as absorb different types of light for photosynthesis. This dictates how close or how deep to the surface they tend to grow in general.

According to Dan Fryda, the president and founder of Spa Technologies, depending on the different types of seaweed, they will have various properties:

Brown Algae: By far the most the most re-mineralizing family of algae. They are traditionally used in rejuvenating and slimming programs. Laminaria algae are the richest when it comes to trace elements as well as Vitamin K and B and beta-carotenes. Furthermore, 50 percent of its bulk is in the form of muco-polysaccharides like fucoidan, mannitol, alginic acid and laminaran, which all have healing and anti-inflammatory properties.

Red Algae: These are extremely rich in folic acid, amino acids and muco-polysaccharides that gently treat sensitive skin. They are also rich in essential fatty acids such as the omega 3 and omega 6 oils that are usually available from fish as well as arachcadonic and gamma-linoleic acids.

Green Algae: Their mineral content is fairly weak compared to the red and brown algae and as such they aren’t used all that much in thalassotherapy. They are, however, a rich source of chlorophyl and vitamin C, which leads to them attracting more attention in skin care.

White Algae: A very unique species, these algae grow with a natural calcium-magnesium shell. White algae such as Lithothamnium Calcareum are very soothing to irritated skin and they also help with drainage of excess water retention and bloat. They are excellent when combined with brown-green algae for the treatment of cellulite.

Blue Green Algae: They have high concentrations of amino acids. Blue green algae such as spirulina add an incredible amount of trace elements and chlorophyl which help stimulate our cellular metabolism. They are also a natural way for seaweed bath products to have a brilliant color.

Because not all seaweeds are alike, it’s not enough that a skin care line puts “seaweed” on the label, or in the product.  It has to be the right seaweed, in the right amounts, for the right purpose.

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