Take a Celtic Seaweed Bath

I had a wonderful—and surprising—spa treat on a cold, rainy day near Sligo, Ireland: a hot Celtic seaweed bath. I’ve had what Americans call kelp baths before, and they usually consist of a tub filled with water turned greenish from powdered dried kelp.

However, a seaweed bath in Ireland is the real McCoy—complete with three- to four-foot strands of fresh-harvested kelp right off the Atlantic coast. Bathing with olive-brown chunks of underwater plants is a cross between a mermaid experience and “Creature from the Black Lagoon.” Either way you consider it, your skin and hair feel silky afterwards.

Whole strands of fresh-harvested seaweed from the Irish sea turns bath water a rusty color, but the effects are great for the skin.

Strands of fresh seaweed from the Atlantic turn bath water a rusty color, but the effects are great for the skin.

My 50-minute treatment started with a 10-minute steam treatment to open my pores. Then I (gingerly) climbed into the tub where the seaweed (Fucus serratus) was floating. The water and tub are extremely slippery from the seaweed, so I clung to the grip rails around the tub. Thankfully, there’s a rubber “no-skid” mat on the bottom of the tub.

But ah, steeping in the rusty, tea-colored water and bobbing about with my seaweed felt divine. I massaged my tired traveler’s feet, did a few stretches, and submerged my head a few times so that my hair benefited from the treatment.

After about 20 minutes in the bath, I hoisted myself out (remember: slippery!), showered, and dried off—feeling as limp and drifty as, well, seaweed!

You can find Ireland’s only indigenous spa therapy at Voya Spa (formerly Celtic Seaweed Baths) in Strandhill, Co. Sligo. A single 50-minute bath costs  25.

Health Benefits of Seaweed Baths:

  • Relaxes the muscles
  • Infuses the skin with vital minerals (especially iodine) and antioxidants
  • Acts as a moisturizer by forming a protective gel-like layer on the skin
  • Supports skin regeneration with some anti-aging properties
  • Detoxifies the body
  • Moisturizes hair and decreases static charge

Laurel Kallenbach, writer and editor

For information on visiting Ireland, check Discover Ireland.

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