Dead Sea beauty zone

  • 2010-02-17
  • By Darja Kuznecova

RIGA - The Dead Sea area is one of the world’s unique natural sites. The specialness of this site can be attributed to several factors, such as its location 400 meters below sea level and the resulting special biodiversity system due to this location. In addition, it is rich with natural resources, like its ground water, surface water and especially its system of springs. Dead Sea water has the highest salt and mineral content of all seas in the world (the salt and mineral concentration is 29 percent, on the north-eastern shore). A natural phenomenon occurs in the Dead Sea, where an additional layer, caused by the high rate of evaporation, filters out the harmful rays of the sun creating a favorable UVA / UVB ratio.

Dead Sea treatment

The Dead Sea region has become a major center for health research and treatment for several reasons. The mineral content of the water, the very low content of pollens and other allergens in the air, the reduced ultraviolet component of solar radiation, and the higher atmospheric pressure at this great depth; each have specific health effects. For example, persons suffering reduced respiratory function from diseases such as cystic fibrosis seem to benefit from the increased atmospheric pressure.
Sufferers of the skin disorder psoriasis also benefit from the ability to sunbathe for long periods in the area due to its position below sea level, with the subsequent result that many of the sun’s harmful UV rays are reduced.

Thus, the region’s climate and low elevation have made it a popular center for several types of therapies:

•    Climatotherapy: Treatment which exploits local climatic features such as temperature, humidity, sunshine, barometric pressure and special atmospheric constituents. The Dead Sea mud contains salts & minerals as the mud absorbs them from the water itself, it is rich in Magnesium, silicon compounds, it has a mask effect to the skin, helps the stimulation of blood circulation around the joints.
•    Heliotherapy: Treatment that exploits the biological effects of the sun's radiation. The natural healing power of the Dead Sea is utilized to treat skin diseases and joint disorders, antistress therapy, relaxation, fitness and beauty programs.
•    Thalassotherapy: Treatment that exploits bathing in Dead Sea water.

There are many spas and treatment centers on the shores of the Dead Sea.

The history of Dead Sea salt in the cosmetics industry

The Nabataeans, a Semitic people who lived in Judea and the surrounding areas, first appear in the historical record in about 300 B.C., fighting the Greeks. Their capital city was in Petra, now part of Jordan. They spoke Aramaic, and originally used the old Hebrew alphabet, then the Syriac alphabet, and then their own script, the Nabataean alphabet, which developed into the Arabic alphabet. The Nabataeans harvested Dead Sea salts, and mixed them with balms including myrrh and frankincense. As a result they sold the first treating creams. This seems to be the earliest-known example of Dead Sea salt cosmetics.
Queen Cleopatra’s lover, Mark Antony, supported King Herod during the Parthian Wars. In 37 B.C., Herod and Mark Antony’s armies captured Judea, including Jerusalem and the Dead Sea region.

If you look at Dead Sea salt vendors, spas, and cosmetic sellers on the Internet, they pretty much all claim that Cleopatra went to the Dead Sea and built her own spa there, and was an enthusiastic user of Dead Sea salt cosmetics, skin creams, and lotions. In reality, Cleopatra definitely funded the wars, as Mark Antony’s brother-in-law in Rome, Octavius, kept promising to fund an army but never quite got round to doing it. Soon after, Mark Antony gifted the area including the Dead Sea, to Cleopatra, but nobody says she went there. In fact, Mark Antony sent Cleopatra back to Egypt, and some time later he joined her there for the winter. From historical books, it’s also known that Cleopatra leased the rights to the Dead Sea salt and mineral industries back to the Nabataeans, for 200 silver talents a year.

Later, King Herod was very fond of the health and beauty properties of the Dead Sea. According to the Roman historian, an ex-Jew who converted, Josephus Flavius, he spent time there, and even built palaces for himself nearby so as not to be short of a luxury or two when on a spa retreat. Herod built the Second Temple in Jerusalem, and also the famous palace at Masada, overlooking the Dead Sea.

The Greek physician, Galen visited the Dead Sea, during his time in Palestine. Writing of the Dead Sea salts for health purposes, Galen said: “The most beautiful salt is produced in the Sea called ‘Dead’... the potency of this medicine consists in its drying and next its healing capabilities; it is indeed appropriate that people use it for closing bleeding wounds.” He also prescribed it as an ingredient in medicines taken internally. The Dead Sea spa experience was specifically recommended by Galen to Roman soldiers serving in the region, as being good for the skin, as well as generally rejuvenating.

Beauty industry

However, water from the Dead Sea is unique not only for a high concentration of salts, but also of their structure. Normally, 77 percent of all sea water salts are table salt - NaCl (sodium chloride). But in the structure of the Dead Sea salt – NaCl is less than 30 percent. There is more than 50 percent chloride and magnesium bromide, which is more useful for the body. Potash salts here are made naturally in a process of evaporation. To make them from other sea areas is not possible. Ions of these elements are a part of the lymph and blood plasma. If we have some problems of metabolism it is necessary to fill their stocks constantly. Minerals increase the level of humidifying the skin, promote elasticity, strengthen membranes. Thus, the skin is reliably protected from loss of moisture and the harmful influence of the environment.

Each mineral is a key for a certain health problem. If you want to maintain the good condition of your body, you should add minerals to it. Normally, we receive all necessary elements from food and water. But in the process of the body ageing, the quantity of minerals in our organism decreases and we need to build it up with minerals from other external sources. One of the unique sources are Dead Sea mineral cosmetics and mud masks, balms.

Geological and environmental conditions of the Dead Sea have also created special kinds of mud. These were generated on the seabed. The mud of the Dead Sea contains more than 100 minerals, salts and microcells. They influence blood circulation, the activity of the nervous system, internal secretion glands, metabolism processes, they remove muscular stress, cellulite, strengthen the hair roots and eliminates dandruff, and facilitate and eliminate rheumatic pains.

There are special pools (frying pans), which evaporate Dead Sea mud for cosmetics manufacture. The mud is taken from sea-bottom. It is not oxidised, therefore saving almost all possible curative properties. Then the mud is packed and immediately delivered to cosmetic factories. Cosmetics on the basis of the Dead Sea mineral mud render beneficial influence on the viability of cells, regulate water-salt balance and improve skin metabolism.

However the Dead Sea has not opened all of its treatment secrets to the beauty industry. The scientists of the leading companies will continue to invent new formulas for regenerative creams and balms with the Dead Sea components.

Compiled from