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What’s the Deal With Halotherapy and Salt Rooms?

Halotherapy is not a revolutionary concept: Using salt as a healing remedy and antiseptic dates as far back as ancient Greek and Egyptian civilizations. But in modern times, salt rooms are becoming increasingly popular as a wellness treatment from coast to coast, as they’re said to have calming effects on your immune system, your lungs, and your nervous system — often paired with other self-care practices like yoga and meditation to double the benefits. We set out to discover whether relaxing in a room jam-packed with salt could actually make a positive difference in your health.

Many spas with halotherapy rooms are filling them with Himalayan salt, believed to be the purest salt for this kind of therapy — thousands of pounds of it. Wellness centers like Hugh Spa in Los Angeles and Modrn Sanctuary in New York City have rooms built with bricks of salt, as well as salt completely covering the floors. Because it is modeled after traditional Korean spas, Hugh Spa’s major focus is on detoxing, according to its director of operations Catherine Bak; its salt room is heated to 140 degrees Fahrenheit and is made for shorter 15-to-20-minute sessions. Modrn Sanctuary’s room features heated floors, as well, and categorizes itself as an “active” salt room, explains founder Alexandra Janelli, because a machine called a halogenerator is also releasing additional salt into the air. “The heated salt in the room is releasing negative ions that can attach to the free radicals in your body, which can help you feel more grounded.”

In a salt room, you may want to just lay there, zone out, and cleanse your mind, which is completely possible. You are usually offered a kind of choose-your-own-adventure spa experience. At Hugh Spa, for an entrance fee of $20, you can hop from room to room to reap all the possible benefits of each wellness center, from the charcoal mud room, to the infrared magnet room, to the ice room for a cool-down. The main goal of the spa experience is to chill out, sweat it out, and then replenish the lost electrolytes with some bone-broth-based homestyle Korean food at the spa’s restaurant. In some spas, you have the option of taking wellness classes inside the salt rooms. For example, Modrn Sanctuary offers everything from simple electronic guided meditation or hypnotherapy sessions, to different types of yoga and Pilates, to astrology, Reiki, and crystal classes, Janelli tells us. Breathe Salt Rooms, also in the NYC area, gives you the option of simply relaxing in one of the rooms or in one of their salt beds, activating your muscles with a salty yoga class, or activating your soul with a chakra healing, meditation, or sound bath session.

What Are the Benefits of Halotherapy?

Pink crystals of Himalayan salt rest on a wood table

Dry salt therapy has been studied mostly within the context of the lung condition COPD. A meta study published in the International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease found at least some potential evidence for “improvements in oxygen saturation, respiratory function, and quality of life,” according to Dr. Chirag Shah, an emergency medicine physician and co-founder of Accesa Labs, an online lab testing service. “The disease process underlying COPD does have some similarities to asthma, which makes the findings potentially applicable across both diseases.” Many salt room clients report feeling clearer sinuses after the salt dries them up, especially if they’re suffering from colds, congestion, or asthma, but Dr. Shah adds that much more research needs to be done to explore and verify potential respiratory benefits of halotherapy.

“The feedback I’ve gotten is mostly skin benefits,” Bak says of Hugh Spa’s clients, who love coming to the spa to feel like they’re sweating out the “toxins” that seep into their skin from the heavily polluted LA air. Janelli echoes that her New York City customers feel equally cleansed after a visit to Modrn Sanctuary. “Your skin might feel a little dry, because salt is drying, but it’s actually bringing the moisture up the surface. It’s great for things like psoriasis, eczema, to dry them out, and salt has healing properties — it’s antiseptic, antibacterial, and antifungal,” Janelli asserts. Plus, she adds, the mineral content of the Himalayan salt can feel incredibly regenerating: “This salt is natural and pure; it’s what we’re made from. It’s got the 80-plus trace minerals that are found in our bodies.”

There’s a potential for salt therapy to have a positive effect on your mental health as well, because of the healing atmosphere it fosters. Mindfulness can invite a release of the feel-good hormone oxytocin, says Connie Omari, a licensed professional counselor and executive director of Tech Talk Therapy. Also, Omari shares, the air quality may make your brain that much sharper: “Dryness of the air creates a sense of calm that can help to declutter thoughts and invites organized and productive thought processes. This, in return, enhances mental clarity.” The relaxing environment and direct focus on inhaling and exhaling deeply can put you in the right headspace to drift off to sleep as well, she tells us.

More scientific study is needed to verify the health benefits of salt rooms, but they certainly can’t harm your health, and they’ve been reported to make users feel calm and clear in their heads, skin, and sinuses and give them an overall sense of balance. So we can’t see any excuse not to get salty.

Have you ever tried halotherapy? Tell us about your salt room experience @BritandCo.

(Photos via Getty)

Alright, folks. We've officially made it to fall. And if you haven't already started switching out your decor (as long as it's ready by Friendsgiving, right?) you still have time to do so. Draw inspiration from this round-up of new home products that includes harvest-inspired candles, cozy linens and textiles, and a v. practical piece of furniture. One scroll through these, and you'll have all the motivation you need to transition the seasons. Scroll on to start shopping.

Prism x LOREM Collection ($96+): Calling all Cali babes. The popular Long Beach boutique, Prism, announced a boho-fabulous collab with home decor line, LOREM, that we can't get enough of. Shop everything from plant hangers (eight options, to be exact) to artwork, all inspired by the very colorful vibes of the brands. If you were looking for a cheery way to tide you through winter, this. is. it!

Floyd Mattress (Price TBD): Fans of the cult-favorite Detroit-based brand will love their latest launch debuting on October 29. The highly-coveted Floyd Mattress will have the same made-to-last design and superior comfort as their other furnishings, tailored perfectly to fit the line's in-demand bed frame. Additional details for the mattress include a breathable foam material, highly-mobile packaging, and a low-profile design to secure your best night's sleep yet. Check back on the last week of the month to get one for yourself.

Dims 'Composed Vanity' ($595): Small space? No problem! Direct-to-consumer brand, Dims, is giving you a quick and stylish solution to your storage needs with their newest item that doubles as both a desk and vanity. The functional piece is made with non-toxic, chemical-free materials and can be assembled in seven minutes or less. Throw in four sleek shades to choose from, and this may just be your best purchase of 2019 yet!

Saatchi Art x The Citizenry Holiday Collection ($225+): Get ready to deck your walls this holiday season. Saatchi Art partnered with The Citizenry in a one-of-a-kind collection that features a curation of art across styles. Explore everything from modern to abstract creations in a selection so stunning, it's bound to spark a conversation at your next gathering.

NEST Spiced Orange & Clove Collection ($16+): If you haven't experienced the addicting aromas of the beloved NEST fragrance brand, this is the perfect time to get on board! The label recently released their latest scent — spiced orange & clove — just in time for all your gatherings. Inhale festive notes of orange pomander, spiced brandy, cinnamon, and gingered honey across their suite of candles and diffusers to bring all the good vibes to your home.

Bloomingdales x RiLEY Home ($19+): RiLEY Home gets millennials. So they teamed up with Bloomingdales to make shopping their selection more attainable than ever. Now, you can get in on long-lasting, luxurious staples like flannel sheets, bedding, printed throws, premium pet beds, and more, by shopping online and in-stores at the department store. (Trust us: These dream goods are ones you're going to be *glad* you stocked-up on.)

Italic Serene Towels ($12+): The luxury brand that prides itself on using the *same* factories namesake brands (like Calvin Klein and Lacoste) use, but without the price tag behind them, brings you a new product for fall. Treat yourself to Italic's ultra-soft towel set spun from fluffy, 100% Australian cotton, in a convenient set of six. Consider it the perfect indulgence after a long soak in the tub on a cozy FNI (Friday night in)!

Hyascent x Neiman Marcus ($169): 'Tis the season for a delightfully scented home. Warm your abode with scents like bourbon joy, cheeky rose and more in a unique diffuser that doubles more as decor than a fragrance-inducer. Fresh off the (online) shelves of Neiman Marcus, explore nine scents that last up to six months in a specialized hourglass holder. (Shhh! Your friends will never know the secret of why your place smells so darn good!)