Water’s hidden virtues are a boon to skinFor centuries, people have found virtues in water, besides the obvious ones. The British believed the water of Bath had healing powers. The Greeks immersed themselves in water to reduce muscle spasms and joint degradation. The Native Americans used hot springs for spiritual communion.
The use of the 15 hot springs at Vichy, in the mountainous Auvergne region of France, dates back almost 2,000 years. In the late 19th century, the town and spa of Vichy were renovated into a resort area; it attained the nickname “the second Paris.” These days, about 13,000 people visit Vichy annually for therapy ranging from rheumatology to gastroenterology to dermatology. Spa therapy can include facials, water massages and mud wraps.
At the Marquis Thermal Spa at the Marriott Hotel in Seoul, one of the customized packages is a Vichy Spa treatment, although you won’t find it on the spa’s brochure of offerings. “Vichy products are sold in drugstores, but the company, and the city it is named after, is famous in France for using spring water,” says Kim Gap-sook, the spa manager.
The course at the Marquis includes 20 relaxing minutes in a hot tub. Clients are immersed in warm water that has been sprinkled with sea salt. This hints at a type of therapy called thalassotherapy. Seawater contains many minerals that the body requires, such as iodine, potassium and magnesium, as well as small amounts of iron; according to the theory behind this treatment, ions from the seawater and from seaweed can move, by osmosis, into our bodies.
Vichy and other cosmetic companies have studied the properties of spring water and seawater to create skin care products that can be used at home. All Vichy products use thermal spring water from the Vichy area. One to keep in a purse is Eau Thermal, a spray formulated with 17 minerals and 13 trace elements to decongest the skin, increase skin tolerance and strengthen its natural defenses.
Biotherm also began as a spa water brand. To this day, all the company’s products contain a concentrate of active ingredients that has been trademarked as Pure Extract of Thermal Plankton. This natural agent was discovered in the thermal springs of the French Pyrenees mountains and is naturally endowed with minerals and proteins. The Source Therapie mask, just out this month, makes use of thermal spring water to rebalance, regenerate and soothe the skin.
H2O Spa uses seawater in its products. “Seawater naturally contains magnesium, calcium and other minerals,” says a spokesperson. The Face Oasis Hydrating Treatment is a water-based gel hydrator made of a penetrating liposome delivery system and sea mineral complex to help attract, transport and distribute moisture. Marine extracts of seaweed, sea lettuce and sea fennel provide vitamins A, C, E and Provitamin B.
Shu Uemura is another cosmetics company that offers products made with mineral water. The Depsea line began with water sprays in scents like chamomile, lavender and bergamot for a spritz of refreshment. The formula for Depsea Therapy Moisture Recovery, which will be available in December, includes minerals from seaweed extracts to replenish damaged skin. Even Evian, a bottled water company, offers water sprays to mist over the face and body.
Of course, one can take vitamin pills or drink a certain amount of water every day, but skin care products can support the remineralizing process. “Our body needs the right balance of minerals to create a feeling of balance,” Ms. Kim says.
by Joe Yong-hee