Icelandic Beauty Secrets
Having recently spent five days horseback riding the Westfjords in the land of fire and ice, I’ve come to the conclusion that Iceland’s combination of pure air, pristine water and mineral-rich volcanic soil produces a high degree of beauty in both horses and humans.
Like their equine counterparts, Icelandic humans tend to sport thick, luxuriant manes — it’s easy to develop “hair-envy” when walking around the streets of Reykjavik. And I would not be the first to comment on the smooth, glowing complexions of Icelandic women; even ladies of “a certain age” have that ageless quality. The secret, I learned, to their comeliness is a healthy diet of organic food (high in Omega-3 fatty acids), ingesting and bathing in pure, glacial water and access to a fine selection of innovative natural skin care products that are unique to Iceland.
Blessed with an abundance of fresh, clean water, Icelanders make the most of this natural resource; they swear by the health and beauty benefits of steeping oneself in volcanically heated water. Taking a cue from the natives, I spent two days recovering from jet lag by at a local swimming pool/spa near my hotel, where I soaked in hot water (including sea water) ranging from 38–44 degrees Celsius (100.4-111.2 degrees Fahrenheit). I am now thoroughly convinced that a stopover in Iceland, with a visit to a geothermal spa is the best and most civilized way to defeat jet lag on a trip across the pond.
Grown on mineral-abundant soil, fed with spring water and the intense sunshine of the short northern summer, Icelandic herbs are renowned for their potency and purity. Former actress Sóley Eliasdóttir has created an impressive skin care line — Sóley Organics — based on traditional Icelandic herbology. She comes from a family of herbalists and her products are made with hand-picked, Icelandic herbs such as bearberry, birch, yarrow and willow. Free from parabens, mineral oil and other harmful ingredients, these products smell and feel wonderful on your skin and hair.
After five days of averaging five hours in the saddle, I was ready for a spa visit and booked an afternoon at the Sóley Natura Spa in Reykjavik, where I luxuriated in treatments with Sóley products (it’s steep work, I know, but someone has to do it!). The lotion cleanser, hrein, left my skin clean yet moisturized. I highly recommend the eyGló facial moisturizer, with soothing birch and yarrow extracts that give your skin that enviable Icelandic glow. But before moisturizing you’ll want to deep clean and purify your skin with steinEy, a volcanic clay masque that removes dead skin and improves cellular metabolism and skin texture.
Another Icelandic skin care line that has been receiving a lot of attention is Bioeffect EGF. Developed by a team of Icelandic scientists, this line uses EGF (epidermal growth factor) derived from plant stem cells to rejuvenate the skin. EGF naturally occurs in human skin, but as with so many things, its production declines with age. Topical application of EGF has been found to stimulate fibroblast production in the dermis to strengthen skin firmness and improve elasticity. Unlike previous forms of EGF produced from E. coli bacteria (ugh!), Bioeffect is made from barley plants grown in volcanic soil in state-of-the art greenhouses. The product is so pure that it contains only nine ingredients! To find out what the fuss is all about, and to understand why 30 percent of Icelandic women over the age of 30 use it, try the Bioeffect Duo (serum and cream). I suggest stocking up at the duty-free shop on your next stopover in Iceland.
There’s no substitute for going to Iceland, but if a trip is not in the offing, I do have some tips for creating the Icelandic experience at home. First, install a good water filter that removes chlorine and contaminants so that you don’t have to drink or bathe in chemical-laden water. Detoxify by regularly taking warm baths infused with Icelandic minerals (or Epsom salts). For flawless skin and good health take Icelandic cod liver oil — it may not taste great, but you will be pleased with the results, I can assure you. Finally, get out of the city and its polluted air and enjoy nature; this will do wonders for your physical and mental well-being and you may even discover your inner Nordic goddess.