Pure and Simple

Epson salt offers skin-softening and muscle-relaxing benefits.

Does anyone really need an excuse to take a nice long soak in the tub? In case you're someone who does, here's a really good one: Epsom salt. A bath in these minerals--sold for just a few dollars in drugstores and supermarkets--offers skin-softening, musclerelaxing and other health-enhancing benefits worth luxuriating in.?Create a home-spa sanctuary with skin-softening and health-enhancing Epsom salt.

Physical Response

Although Epsom salt is a mineral construct known as magnesium sulfate, the real active ingredient that makes it work is our own skin, our largest vital organ. Its ability to absorb nutrients topically is the underlying principle of all bath kurs and treatments. Magnesium is associated with calcium absorption, stress reduction, and blood and nerve function and helps regulate the rhythm of the heart.

It can also help reduce inflammation of muscles that are sore or cramped--which is how my love affair with the Epsom salt bath came about. Growing up in an athletic household, I was introduced to them early on. We used them often to ward off next-day soreness, a habit I still subscribe to. Sulfate, an integral part of the digestive process, is known to be most effectively absorbed through the skin rather than through the digestive tract. Below-normal levels of this mineral have been associated with migraine headaches as well as rheumatoid arthritis.

Practical Beauty

To take an Epsom salt bath, sprinkle two cups in a warm tub while it fills, swirling the water before you. Hop in to be sure the salt is dissolved. (You can adjust the salt amount to your liking, but higher quantities lend the water a soapy feeling.)?Once the tub is full (this is the best time to add essential oils if you'd like to introduce other healing qualities), linger in the warm-to-hot water for at least 15 minutes to be sure your skin drinks in the minerals.?Pat dry and relax.

Beyond the Bath

Of course, all of this soaking naturally leaves skin glowing. But to give it an extra
boost, you can use the crystalline compound as a full-body exfoliant by mixing a handful with pure oil, such as jojoba or almond, or with a more gelatinous substance like aloe vera. Gentle enough for the face, a blend of Epsom salt and any creamy facial cleanser delivers a polished finish. Magnesium sulfate is also recommended as a healthy scalp treatment when added to organic hair?conditioner.

Several minutes of firm massaging will renew this neglected surface, clearing the path for healthier follicles and stimulating the oil glands responsible for lustrous hair.?Additionally, you can blend a few tablespoons into normal shampoo to make it more suitable for oily hair, and apply the salts as a warm compress to draw toxins away from cuts and scrapes and reduce swelling from insect bites.?

Epsom Salt Bath Recipes

Give your bath another dimension with one cup of Epsom salt and one of these therapeutic additions:
  • Gently coax toxins from the skin with one tablespoon of ground ginger in tepid bath water.
  • Ease post-workout pain and stiffness by adding a few drops of rosemary and myrtle essential oils.
  • Relax your body with a mix of equal parts dried lavender buds and coarse sea salt.?

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