The principle behind thalassotherapy is that repeated exposure to sea air and immersion in warm seawater, mud, clay, and protein-rich algae helps restore the body's natural chemical balance. Because seawater and human plasma are very similar, the body (when immersed in warm seawater) absorbs the minerals it needs through the skin. The vitamins in seaweed nourish the skin and form an essential complex for overcoming the smallest deficiency. These elements work in association to increase circulation which, in turn, allows more oxygen to reach and nourish the cells.
The use of seaweed and seawater for the purpose or preventive and remedial skin care treatments has been documented as early as 60 B.C. In 1898, a French doctor, La Bonardiere d’Arcachon, coined the formal term ‘thalassotherapy’ to refer to the use of seaweed and seawater in therapeutic applications.
While the therapeutic use of seaweed and seawater is only now receiving widespread attention in the United States, the benefits of thalassotherapy have long been recognized and enjoyed by Europeans. They have popularized the concept at treatment centers and health spas located abroad, some of which have been in operation for over a century.
THE TRANSFORMATION OF SEAWEED
There are approximately 25,000 varieties of seaweed in the world and they all vary considerably in appearance. Despite physical differences, they are all nourished by osmosis and other elements contained in seawater, which is a rich and balanced substance that contains all of the elements necessary for cellular life. Seaweed has the unique property of being able to concentrate these elements in a density up to 10,000 times greater than that of seawater.
In order for the skin care industry to make effective use of this exciting, new ingredient, the harvesting and transformation process must follow very strict procedures. First, the seaweed must be cut by variety and at specific times of the year, depending on the geographical region of the harvest. Within 24 hours, the seaweed must be delivered to the laboratory where it is carefully washed.
Next, the seaweed undergoes a transformation process whereby raw material suitable, for cosmetic-chemical formulation, is obtained. There are only two processes in the world that allow all the vitamins, trace elements, and amino acids in the seaweed to remain fully active. One procedure is called lyophilisation (freeze-drying), but is considered far too expensive for cosmetic use. The other procedure is cryobroyage, a French word meaning ‘microburst under cold temperatures.’ France’s Brittany coast is the only area of the world that has the technical expertise to use the cryobroyage process. To produce a cream of seaweed, whose particles are between six to 10 microns in size, the seaweed is microburst in two stages at temperatures of -4 and -58 degrees Fahrenheit.
The raw material produced by the cryobroyage process is neither subjected to high temperatures nor dehydrated, both of which would destroy most of the active elements of the seaweed. Until recently, most of the seaweed products on the market were made from powdered (dehydrated) seaweed and, therefore, had lost most of their beneficial effects.
MINERALS AND VITAMINS IN SEAWEED
Thanks to the cryobroyage process, microburst seaweed is now available to be used for cosmetic products such as lotions, creams, soaps, shower gels, masks, ampoules, and bath products. Regular use of these products provides numerous benefits to the skin. Due to its iodine content, microburst seaweed helps to increase the metabolic rate, activating the exchange of substances and eliminating toxins. Minerals like magnesium, potassium, and calcium act on the cell’s vitality, as do polysaccharides and vitamins A, B1, B2, B12, C, D, E, and K.
Specifically, the amino acids found in seaweed serve to aid in tissue development and reconstitution. Mineral salts act on cell vitality by moisturizing dry and sensitive skin while also checking sebum in oily skins. Trace elements have the effect of increasing biological reactions which helps the skin to assume a smoother, suppler texture. These elements work in association to increase circulation, which, in turn, allows more oxygen to reach and nourish the cells.
Research has shown that the ionic and percutaneous penetration of the constituent elements of seawater and seaweed takes place under specific temperature. The skin is not an insurmountable barrier but a place of exchange.
When skin care products are formulated using a generous concentration (at least 15 percent) of microburst seaweed, it creates products that are rich in vitamins, trace elements, amino acids, and other important elements. A new and exciting raw material, microburst seaweed, comes from a single, yet balanced source – the sea.
BENEFITS OF THALASSOTHERAPY
The beneficial effects of thalassotherapy have been documented in laboratory tests and verified under rigorous empirical studies. The benefits include the detoxification effect of the interstitium, the oxygenation of interstitium tissue channels and cellular structure, and the noticeable physical slimming effects due to sudation. It also includes the retardation of aging of conjunctive tissue, the mineralization and nourishment of interstitial tissue, and the relaxation and relief from stress. Furthermore, the iodine content of seaweed processed with the cryobroyage method helps to increase the body’s metabolic rate and, in turn, encourages the exchange of substances and elimination of toxins.
SLIMMING EFFECT OF THALASSOTHERAPY
Thalassotherapy treatments can be recommended for minor weight loss, in addition to a sound program of diet and exercise. The seaweed by-products of the cryobroyage process provide a slimming effect due to the concentration of iodine. Iodine is naturally present in the body’s thyroid gland, which is instrumental in the regulation of the body’s metabolism, the activation of blood circulation, and the revitalization of the body’s cells. It has been established that thalassotherapy treatments support this process.
Numerous centers of thalassotherapy, which continue to be popular resorts and treatment centers, were built in Europe during the 19th and 20th centuries. Certain thalassotherapy spas, such as Biarritz, have recently received attention in major women’s magazines. The treatments offered at these seawater spas generally last from eight to 12 days and include baths and showers of seawater supplemented with seaweed, body wraps of seaweed and marine mud, and massages with cream of seaweed. For the baths and showers, the temperature of the water, a key element of the treatment, is maintained at 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
The clientele of thalassotherapy spas is just as varied as the motivations for receiving treatments. While some clients seek relief from stress, others simply want to revitalize their body. Overweight clients go for help in weight reduction, while others have treatments to maintain their already-trim appearance. Clients with locomotor difficulties due to an accident, sports injury, or old age also derive benefit from thalassotherapy.
Therapeutic Dry Brushing
The body is brushed from the feet upward with a skin-massaging brush, a sisal massage glove, or as a substitute, a Turkish or a rough towel. Skin care professionals should begin at the right leg, move to the left leg, and brush then the abdomen in clockwise spirals from the outside to the inside. The purpose of brushing is to improve the blood circulation of the skin. Because the skin should only be slightly reddened and should not show abrasions or welts, the brush should not be too stiff and should not be handled with force.
Dry brushing the entire body takes about three to five minutes and is best done in the morning. If clients are used to it, they can brush with the windows open, but a draft should be avoided. If the body is brushed every day, it becomes dependent on this stimulus.
Dry brushing is an excellent skin care procedure. This gentle, yet thorough, blood circulation stimulating procedure keeps the skin looking firm, healthy, and youthful.
Seaweed Powder Bath and Seaweed Powder Body Wrap
Bathing in seaweed enriched water or the application of a seaweed wrap combines the beneficial properties of the enriched concentrate filtrate. If followed by exercise, massage, or lymph drainage, thalassotherapy can last approximately 90 minutes. For maximum results, a series of three treatments per week, over a period of five to six weeks is highly recommended.
Seaweed Powder Bath Preparation and Procedure
Deep frozen and dried seaweed products (lyophilisation) ensure the conservation of the product’s natural qualities in a way that no other method can by conserving mineral salts, vitamins, and enzymes.
Add four ounces of seaweed powder to the warm water (40 to 50 gallons) at a temperature of 102 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure the client is comfortable and place a cool, damp towel on their forehead. Let the client relax in the bathtub for 15 to 20 minutes (or longer if the client is comfortable) and provide plenty of liquid for them.
Check on the client every 10 minutes. The product is even more effective when the client rests for 90 minutes after the bath, while wrapped in a warm bathrobe or blanket. This rest period prolongs perspiration and the consequent elimination of toxins. All seaweed bath ingredients are biodegradable and can be drained normally. Finally, the client should take a cold shower as soon as possible in order to increase vascular response.
The seaweed powder bath contains a rich concentrate of pure seaweed powder (algae) and is for skin needing toning. It can also be used for a slimming and contouring program. This bath has no contraindications and contains ingredients such as laminaria, lithothamnium, spirulina, and aromatic essences. Minerals, trace elements, beta carotene, and iodine make up luminaria, while calcium and magnesium, which reduce bloat and detoxify, constitute lithothamnium. The spirulina helps to stimulate circulation while the aromatic essences relax the client and stimulate nourishment of the skin. The specially-processed seaweeds have toning and cleansing actions for the skin tissue. When used professionally for a cellulite program, add four ounces of powder to bath water. The powder may also be applied directly to the skin as a detoxifying and toning body wrap. For home use, advise clients to do a seaweed powder bath three times a week for its toning and detoxification properties.
Seaweed Powder Body Wrap Preparation and Procedure
Place a metallic blanket, electric blanket, and plastic sheet on table. Thirty minutes before treatment, turn on the electric blanket. Have a knee bolster, a head pillow covered with a towel, ice water, drinking cup, and drinking straws available. After having the client take a warm shower, recommend a short stay in a sauna to elevate the body temperature and ensure relaxation.
Have the client stand next to the treatment table (without clothes or if uncomfortable, wear a swimsuit) and proceed with dry brushing (always stroke upwards, toward the heart) with a loofah sponge to slough off dead skin cells and stimulate blood to the surface.
After dry brushing, have the client lie down on their stomach and massage cellulite cream into their legs, buttocks, of wherever cellulite occurs. Then, cover the whole body with a seaweed powder mask. Have the client turn over and cover the front of their body with the rest of the seaweed mask. Wrap the client tightly in plastic sheet, followed by the electric blanket and metallic blanket. Turn off the lights and play soft, relaxing music. Place a cold, damp towel on the client’s forehead and offer a glass of cold water.
Check on the client every 10 to 15 minutes while they are relaxing. After 30 to 40 minutes, unwrap the client and let them take a cool shower. Afterwards, massage the cellulite cream onto respective body areas and instruct the client to wear a compression garment.
The seaweed powder body wrap employs a light green blend of micronized laminaria gigitat and lithothamnium calcarium powders from the coastal waters of the Atlantic coast of Brittany. For this wrap, the powder should be used as a paste in order to treat cellulite. It has no contraindications and contains, minerals, trace elements, alginic acid, and beta-carotene. The mineral ingredients include magnesium, potassium, and calcium for cellular-balance restoration and trace elements such as silica, zinc, selenium, and iodine for skin nourishment, free radical damage reduction, and increased metabolism. The alginic acid comes in the form of an elasticizing agent and emollient, and the beta-carotene is vitamin A for skin vitality. This wrap has a balanced concentrate of the ocean’s nutrients to nourish the skin, tone and detoxify tissue, and reduce bloat. For professional use, mix the powder with water to form a pancake-like paste, followed by an optional essential oil.