Made Up in Boston

"A man's face is his autobiography. A woman's face is her work of fiction." -Oscar Wilde

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Dead Sea Spa Experiment

Hello, hello!

I'm back from Israel, winding down after enjoying two of the most amazing weeks of my life. Israel was so different from anything I'd ever imagined, and I have to say it was truly the coolest vacation I've ever had!

I promised a blog post on my trip to the Dead Sea, and now I'm finally delivering! I did actually try to blog while in Israel, but unfortunately Blogger was not having it. It kept freezing and yelling at me in Hebrew, and because I neither speak nor read Hebrew, I abandoned the effort completely and drowned my frustrations in a glass of Israeli shiraz while sitting in a Mediterranean beach cafe. Impossible situation, right? ;)

So onto the good stuff!

During our first weekend in the Holy Land, Kyle and I drove out to the Dead Sea, which is about an hour and a half outside of Jerusalem. If you're not familiar with Israel's geography, the Dead Sea is just south of the West Bank, on the Israeli-Jordanian border, right dead smack in the middle of the desert. We decided to make an overnight trip of it and spent the night in Ein Bokek, an all-inclusive hotel community comprised of a dozen or so resorts. Our hotel, The Lot Hotel, was a smallish but adorable spa resort right on the shores of the Dead Sea.
View of the hotel community from our hotel's beach
Wine and a hammock = a happy Tiffany!
On our first night at the hotel, we decided to explore the grounds and sneak a quick dip in the warm waters of the Dead Sea. There are signs posted throughout the resort, and your room (and the Internet) warning you not to shave for at least forty-eight hours prior to going in the water. This is because the salt from the water will cause any abrasion on your skin to sting with the fire of a thousand burning suns. And they totally mean it. I stupidly ignored the warning and as a result bore some lovely ankle irritation for the next two days. So bear this in mind should you find yourself at the Dead Sea sometime.

But back to the Dead Sea experience....

The beach is made up of yellow, salty sand. You have to wear flip flops or dock shoes because there are small, sharp salt formations along the shoreline and you can easily scratch your foot.
The water itself is very clear, but almost has the consistency of melted plastic wrap, meaning it is very heavy and almost slick on your skin. It feels a bit like wading through olive oil. The point is not to swim (in fact, there are signs warning you against it; imagine getting that water in your eyes! OUCH!), but rather to float and immerse your body in the water, which contains high levels of sulphur (which is supposed to oxygenate the skin and heal tired muscles).

I think it would be impossible to sink in this water, even if you wanted to. To even touch the bottom, you have to curl your body into a cannonball position, and force your legs down! As Kyle so aptly described, "This place defies the laws of physics."
After you get out of the water, it immediately starts to crystalize on your skin. You end up brushing off small amounts of crusted salt from everywhere. The crusted salt excretes some kind of oil on your skin, rather than drying it out, and the oil leaves skin feeling silky-smooth. Don't ask me how this works, but it does, and it's really strange.

Unfortunately our hotel did not have the famous freestanding mud baths that the Dead Sea shore is known for. Because the Lot Hotel is a spa hotel, you have to book an appointment in the spa if you wanted to actually lay in the mud. However, you could stop by the hotel spa and grab a pre-packeged packet of Dead Sea mud for about $2 US and just apply it yourself on the beach. I picked up two bags and after the quick dip pictured above, applied the goopy, thick mud all over.
Dead Sea mud contains Magnesium, Potassium, Selenium, Calcium, Bromides, and trace elements of Lithium, Zinc, and Sulfates. According to chemists and skincare specialists, these elements are supposed to cleanse and revitalize tired skin, and activate cells in the skin that absorb moisture. Dead Sea mud is also used to aid in the healing of aching and tired muscles and improve blood circulation.

As far as how the mud actually feels, it feels so good! The mud is cold and thick, and when you're in the middle of a desert under a hot sun, nothing feels as good as slathering this stuff all over your body!

Even the husband got in on the action :)
You're supposed to leave the mud on until its dried, which is between 15-20 minutes. You're not supposed to put the mud on your face, which I didn't realize and was a bit disappointed to discover. When it dries, it looks gray and cracked, so you know its time to wash it off in the sea.
Kyle makes an excellent arm model, no?
It mostly just flakes off you as you immerse yourself in the water, but you are supposed to use the water to rub the mud into and off the skin. The salt in the water exfoliates your skin while you do this. That process actually tickles a bit, but in my opinion, it works really well.

So what's my conclusion on the Dead Sea treatment?

Kyle and I noticed a distinct difference in our skin and muscles after our day at the Dead Sea. We both remarked on how soft our arms and legs were, and how we felt like we'd had a full body massage after floating in the sea for a couple of hours. My skin felt moisturized and supple, and I felt stretched out and relaxed. This feeling lasted for a few days afterwards, even after several showers and a few very hot and sweaty days.

It was definitely a very cool experience and if you find yourself in Israel some day I highly recommend spending a night in Ein Bokek and enjoying a leisurely float in the Dead Sea and a nice cooling mud bath!


  1. Welcome back! What a great vacation!

  2. Hahaha, these pictures are hilarious! I need to do more touristy things next time I'm in Israel :)