Soakaholics flock to Southern California’s new Seaweed Sok Spa for traditional Irish seaweed baths.
The humble seaweed is one superpowered force of nature: Rich in iodine, minerals, amino acids and vitamins, it’s beneficial for restoring dry, damaged skin; reducing cellulite, eczema and psoriasis; boosting metabolism; and even improving one’s mood.
Spa pro Missy Finlay had enjoyed plenty of seaweed wraps before, but it wasn’t until visiting the western coast of Ireland 10 years ago that she discovered the centuries-old European detoxification ritual of submerging oneself in warm, seaweed-rich salt water to counteract the havoc that long winters wreak on skin. Finlay fell in love with the “euphoria-inducing” tradition and grew determined to bring it stateside.
The only problem was, Irish spas have the luxury of proximity to remote areas of the wild Atlantic coast that are free of boats and people, and where seaweed grows naturally organic and clean. After a few more visits to the remote town of Sligo, Ireland, however, Finlay arranged to have the town’s indigenous seaweed hand-harvested, dehydrated and imported to her home town of Newport Beach, California, where she opened Seaweed Sok Spa last October.
The name of this spa says it all. Each of its four treatment rooms contains a cast iron-clawed tub and an infrared sauna. The only menu item is a 60-minute session ($65/1 person; $85/2 people; monthly unlimited pass/$125) during which guests are shown to a room and instructed to indulge in a 20-minute sauna session—to kick start the detox process and open pores—followed by a 40-minute soak in a warm bath that combines Himalayan-salted water with up to five pounds of seaweed. Guests control their own bath temperature, and can play music or read in the tub. The service is safe for all ages.
“It’s like soaking in a big cocktail of vitamins,” Finlay says. “The seaweed is extremely therapeutic, and clients emerge totally relaxed and euphoric.” She adds that these sessions are especially popular with sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis, body aches and skin conditions, who appreciate this medicine-free form of relief. One less-expected fan base lies in the jet set, and women prepping for special events. “It de-puffs you and serves as a kind of instant cleanse,” Finlay explains.
Seaweed Sok is the first spa of its kind to open in the U.S. Finlay also helps “soakaholics” soothe themselves at home via an array of seaweed-based retail items.