Blue lagoon

The Benefits of the Blue Lagoon

Blue lagoon

If you haven’t been to Iceland yet, chances are you know at least a dozen people who have taken the short flight to Reykjavik and spent a few days among the volcanoes, glaciers and geysers.

Last year more than 2 million tourists went to the Island of Fire and Ice with many of them taking a mineral bath in the iconic Blue Lagoon. I hate to be a lemming, but I wanted to see what drove so many to this sparsely populated island and learn first-hand about the dermatologic potential of Iceland’s most famous destination.

I was surprised to discover that the Blue Lagoon is not one of Mother Nature’s best works, but a beautiful man-made spa utilizing naturally occurring geothermal energy in the form of super heated water extracted from a mile below the earth’s surface. It is an ingenious re-use of the excess water from an adjacent power plant. The water is a mix of fresh and seawater and, according to the spa website, the unique algae plants and high concentration of silica directly benefit the skin. They claim the anti-bacterial effects of silica improve psoriasis and eczema and that the mineral water prevents premature aging.

I had to try it, so we booked a day at the Blue Lagoon Retreat, touted as a “transformative journey into volcanic earth.” It’s definitely a transformative setting, with canals and pools of beautiful blue-white water snaking through volcanic cliffs, overlooking mountains and a starkly spectacular landscape. The experience is soothing and relaxing. Once I was able to pull myself out of the warm water I performed the signature “ritual” using scrubs of lava sand and salt, a cleansing silica mask and moisturizing algae oil. It was a sublime end to a memorable day.

Effects of Blue Lagoon Water

According to Icelandic dermatologist Jenna Huld Eysteinsdottir, research on the effects of the Blue Lagoon’s algae and silica on skin cells showed an increase in the genes that prevent skin aging. These were “in vitro” laboratory studies, however, and I am not aware of any that looked at actual patients. Additionally, there is a great deal of evidence that silica, the star ingredient in Blue Lagoon’s skin care line, is vital for healthy joints, skin, nails, teeth and bones. While it is less clear that applying large amounts of silica on the skin will result in reversal of aging, this pure white mineral is very effective in the absorption of oil and can have a positive role in masks for those with acne, eczema and psoriasis. It’s found in many cosmetic products because it improves the appearance of lines and pores, but as far as I know, only temporarily.

Seeking more “in vivo” evidence of the Blue Lagoon’s claims, I looked around at the Icelanders’ skin. With a population of a little more than 300,000 in a sea of tourists, spotting a native Icelander is almost as challenging as identifying one of the elves that are central to the Icelandic sagas and identity. There is no question though that most natives have exceptionally healthy skin – unlined and evenly pigmented. Lack of sunlight may play a role, however, as they live at a latitude with only 5 hours of daylight in winter.

Is the Blue Lagoon Worth it?

So, what’s the upshot? After a few hours of soaking and scrubbing in the ethereal waters of the Blue Lagoon I felt absolutely fantastic and renewed.  From a dermatologist’s perspective there is not yet enough science to support its skin anti-aging claims, but I would still recommend the experience, if only for the restorative powers to one’s psyche. There will be undoubtedly more data on the horizon, and I will be on the lookout. In the meantime, if you have the chance, check the Blue Lagoon out for yourself.

 

Takk Fyrir!

 

How Chemical Peels Rejuvenate the Skin

Sun exposure can cause discoloration of the skin as well as roughness and wrinkling. This damaged skin can be repaired to a large degree with a variety of rejuvenating treatments.

One of the methods that restores the skin’s natural beauty without significant downtime is a chemical peel. Peels are a great way to brighten the skin and reduce discoloration.

History of Chemical Peels

Interestingly these procedures have been performed for centuries.  The ancient Egyptians used acids to peel the skin as early as 1550 B.C. Dermatologists have been doing the modern day version for more than half a century. The procedures we use today have been greatly refined, and so has our approach to using them.

Modern Chemical Peels

Peels can be tailored for skin type and the type of skin damage. It’s not a “one size fits all approach to anti-aging. Peeling agents include an alphabet soup of  some combination of the following: salicylic, retinoic, mandelic, phytic, and tricholoracetic acids. We choose an agent or agents based on the tone and condition of the skin as well as the desired outcome.

Today’s chemical peels often infuse the skin with ingredients that encourage its own natural processes such as building collagen to diminish wrinkles and improve tone. They can also be combined with other procedures such as microneedling to enhance the penetration of active agents.

Different Types of Chemical Peels

Here’s a primer on peels.  A light peel, commonly called a lunchtime peel, gently exfoliates only the outer layer of skin. This treatment can improve mild discoloration as well as refresh the face, neck, chest or hands. Regular light  peels for acne work well with other treatments and can help reduce the need for prescription oral antibiotics. Light peels are also an excellent solution for patients of color looking to lighten the skin.

To get the results you seek from a light peel, you will need multiple treatments, depending on your goals. Melasma or hyperpigmentation on the face will require several sessions of chemical exfoliation to eliminate the pigment.

A medium peel penetrates the outer and middle layers of skin to improve age spots, fine lines and wrinkles, freckles and moderate skin discoloration. It also can be used to smooth rough skin and treat precancerous skin growths such as actinic keratoses.

Deeper peels are also designed to penetrate the middle layer of skin to remove moderate lines, age spots, freckles and shallow scars.

Preparing for a Chemical Peel

Preparation for a peel is as important as the peel itself.  You may be given instructions on a skin care plan- especially if you have darker skin tones- for the 2-4 weeks preceding a peel. After your peel you we will tell you how to care for your skin, when it’s safe to begin wearing makeup and what you should be using to maintain the benefits of your peel.

Peels are a customizable approach to healthy anti-aging and a natural aesthetic.

Contact us with questions and to book your appointment.