GET SALTED Beauty insiders are buzzing about the rejuvenating benefits of salt therapy. Emily Dudding gives it a good shake.
Ilie naked under a plastic dome while a tiny machine pumps microscopic particles of pharmaceutical-grade salt into the air. I can’t see it or smell it – it’s only when I lick my hand and taste the salty film that I’m sure something is happening. It’s my first time on a dry salt bed, but I may be hooked. While nutritionists pepper us with dire warnings about its health risks, salt aficionados of a different breed are touting these little crystals as a cure for asthma and allergies, a boost to the immune system, and a way to increase athletic endurance, as well as to add a glow to your complexion. The secret? Skip the shaker in favour of inhaling the white stuff.
“Salt has incredible qualities,” says Ülle Pukk, a co-founder of the Salt Therapy Association. “It’s antiviral, antimicrobial, and antifungal.” Pukk is at the forefront of a movement that’s bringing halotherapy, also known as dry salt therapy, to America. Popular in Europe, the treatment utilises a halogenerator, which grinds warm salt into breathable particles and dispenses dry salt aerosol into the air of enclosed chambers. “Dry salt goes deep into the recesses of your lungs,” she explains. “It absorbs impurities from your body and helps break up mucus so you cough out toxins. When you have clean lungs, you get more oxygen, which gives you more energy, impacts every organ, and improves overall well-being.” There are now more than 150 salt rooms in the US. “It’s holistic, there are no side effects, and it can address so many different issues,” says Ellen Patrick of New York’s Breathe Easy spas, which feature salt rooms and salt beds. (Former football pro Tiki Barber salted up at one before running the New York City Marathon.)
Even mainstream doctors see potential benefits. “A lot of patients say it increases exercise tolerance,” says pulmonologist Denise Harrison, an assistant professor of environmental medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center. She adds, however, that more research is needed to substantiate claims. At Breathe Easy’s location on Manhattan’s Park Avenue, the salt chamber is luxurious, with plush lounge chairs for group salting. Each session lasts 45 minutes, and no disrobing is required. “The salt emits negative ions that promote the relaxation response, unlike the positive ions we’re exposed to through cell phones and computers, which agitate the nervous system,” says Patrick. The salt beds offer a faster, more intense option and expose more skin to salt’s exfoliant and antibacterial qualities. After 20 minutes, my skin was lightly salted – and soft. “Benefits have been seen for eczema and acne, and it gives an instant glow,” says New York dermatologist Dendy Engelman.
At New York’s La Casa Day Spa, the hot sauna is lined with blocks of Himalayan salt that “strengthen the barrier function of the skin, and the heat helps negative ions penetrate into your lungs,” says owner Jane G. Goldberg. She also recommends an hour in the flotation tub with 800 pounds of Epsom salts. “They’re a phenomenal healing agent,” she shares. “One hour in there is like five hours of sleep.” Engelman agrees. “Epsom baths help eliminate toxins by pulling them out of the skin and also relax muscles and relieve pain.” After just minutes in this mini Dead Sea, I found it hard to tell where my body ended and the water began, and even a nagging hamstring began to loosen up. The only side effect? A craving for a salted margarita. CRYSTAL BLISS Lit by lamps of natural crystal salt about 250 million years old, the Himalaya Salt Room at The Orchard Wellness & Health Resort emits a subtle warmth that truly relaxes. The negative ions released bond with harmful pollutants in the air to neutralise
them, and delve deep to help rejuvenate in myriad ways. These
include speeding up recovery, stabilising body rhythm, boosting alertness, relieving respiratory
problems and migraines, enhancing the immune system, and increasing lung capacity. Its soothing light also has a calming
effect, clearing your mind to leave you positively recharged.
The Himalaya Salt Room at The Orchard Wellness &