On the very last day of 2016—a year that I, like many, was ready to let go of—visiting a salt cave seemed like the perfect way to while away one of the final hours of the year. Soul cleansing was in order, to say the least.
Salt therapy, AKA halotherapy, is a mainstay in Europe and has been on the rise stateside for the past couple of years. As a mineral, salt is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-fungal. Thus, can help alleviate a number of respiratory ailments, and skin conditions (like eczema, acne, and cellulite), as well as contribute to overall wellness. "[It] can be either ingested, applied topically, or inhaled in the proper quality-controlled concentrations," explains Dr. Richard Leinhardt, an ENT specialist and medical director at Halo/Air.
Out on the east end of Long Island for New Year's Eve, my respite of choice was Montauk Salt Cave, a cozy grotto made of tons of pink Himalayan sea salt. Inside, you'll find a slew of beach chairs, rock lamps, and starry "holes" in the ceiling that imitate the night sky. As soon as you walk in, you can breath in the decidedly rarefied air, which is pumped with pharmaceutical-grade aerosol salt you can taste. Soundtrack-wise, you're bathing in deep, haunting ambient music. It's like a yoga class, except without the exercise part.
The session was 45-minutes long and at first, I sat back in one of the reclining chairs and snuggled up beneath a couple of blankets. It was cozy and I did a few breathing exercises with the Apple Watch's "Breathe" app to inhale as many benefits as possible. However, I eventually grew restless, and began toying with the idea of stripping off a few layers so that my skin could get better acquainted with the salt. Before I knew it, I was in a tank top and rolled-up pants making Tumblr-pink snow angels.
I discovered that a dry salt bath is even better than a wet one. It's kind of like laying in the sand on the beach, except it takes exfoliation to a whole new level sans harmful UV rays. As if I were dry brushing my body, I'd take handfuls of the salt and gently massage it into my skin to help combat lymphatic congestion while buffing away dead skin cells. It felt so good. Once I went rogue, the time was up before I knew it...
Upon leaving, I felt relaxed and my skin, especially on the back of my arms and legs where I suffer from KP (keratosis pilaris AKA bumps), felt ridiculously smooth and soft (days later, it's still thanking me for the TLC). I didn't feel like a whole new woman per se, but the whole experience was lovely.
At $40 a session, the treatments are an investment for some and a luxury for others. More often than not, you're going to need multiple visits to see longterm results. But if you suffer from allergies, asthma, or a more severe skin condition, it's definitely worth a try. One of my friends swears by salt cave visits to treat her eczema. If you don't have a cave nearby, or just want to dip your toe into salt therapy, you can also try a salt lamp or add Himalayan salt to your humidifier. Either way, you should be more salty in 2017.
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