I first encountered seaweed while living in Japan, way back in the, ahem, 1990s – the nori in sushi rolls, the wakame in miso soup and the dark hijiki used in salads. Growing up in Wales, I guess I should have been used to eating traditional laverbread (a variety of seaweed, sometimes mixed with oatmeal) for breakfast, but that particular tradition seems to have passed by my particular hometown on the North Wales coast.
It’s fair to say, I’m pretty sold on the taste and nutritional benefits of seaweed.
But bathing in seaweed? Now that’s a new concept to me, and probably to most other people too. So it was with a little trepidation that I unwrapped the beautiful biodegradable box that contained Voya’s dried organic seaweed bath (you can read more about the great background to Voya here).
My pleasant task for the day was to try out the seaweed product (Lazy Days), as well as Voya’s handcrafted beesewax candle with essential oils (The Original), and its natural reed diffuser (Oh So Scented) with French basil. All the ingredients for a delicious home spa.
It was the weekend, and I’d scheduled a rare bit of me-time. One hour to take a long lazy bath, while my little one napped and my husband watched over him.
The dark green, netted bundle I took out of the box immediately filled the bathroom with a strong smell of the sea. Not an unpleasant smell, but a familiar smell that threw up images of seaside holidays and sandy beaches.
As per the instructions, I filled the bath tub with very hot water and immersed the net, which also contained some dead sea salt. Over the course of around 5-10 minutes, the bundle started to expand as the seaweed rehydrated into long, silky fronds. Swirling the net around the bath and turned the water the colour of weak green tea, which was not a particularly enticing look – but being a brave girl, I nevertheless decided to step in.
By this time, I’d also lit Voya’s scented beesewax candle on the side of the bath, which was now filling the room with a gorgeous aroma of citrus, patchouli and cloves (it was the type of delicious smell you experience in a top-end spa ) and mingling with the smell of the sea.
I kept the expanded seaweed in its net for a while and gave my body a good all over scrub, squeezing the seaweed as advised to also release more of its nutritious and moisturising gel (think soothing aloe vera in consistency). Then I released it from its net, and a mass of strong, springy fronds took over the whole bath tub.
I felt like the creature from the black lagoon! It was very tactile, and actually very nice to touch. I lay there, under a heavy green blanket of plantation and began to slowly relax into it, all the while breathing in the aroma of the Voya candle. I rubbed some of the seaweed over my face and into my hair and it felt warm and soothing.
When I was single, I used to luxuriate in long, pampering baths all the time, without a care in the world. But with the arrival of motherhood and married life, even getting more than a few minutes in the shower each morning is no mean feat. So soaking myself in this seaweed bath for an extended period felt like absolute heaven.
I must have wallowed for at least 45 minutes before I even thought to stir. When you’re in a spa, you’re always under a certain time limit, conscious that at some point the therapist is going to come in and interrupt your thoughts. At home, you’re really more in control of your treatment time, and can luxuriate for a lot longer (just remember to switch off the phone and tell your baby not to wake up).
I also noticed that, probably due to the added insulation of the seaweed, my bath stayed really warm for a lot longer than normal. Taking a long bath usually involves having to drain out some bathwater and refill again with the hot tap. But here, the seaweed provided a lovely, heavy cloak that kept me warm and cosy.
I somehow managed to call time on my Voya seaweed experience and stepped out of the tub carefully, as the seaweed gel makes all things slippery, rubbed myself down with a towel and put on a warm robe.
Voya says you can re-dry the seaweed outside and re-use again within three days. When it’s back in its net it can also be used like a loofah. Once you’ve finished with it, you can then spread it as an organic fertiliser on your garden. Who’d have thought a bath product could have been so versatile? Priced at 18 euros, I feel that makes it pretty good value.
The Voya candle comes with a bigger price tag. At 40 euros, it’s comparable to the price of say, a Jo Malone candle. The Voya product is completely organic and handmade, and has around 55 hours of burn time. So if your baths generally last around half and hour, you’ll be able to take over 100 baths with this lovely smell wafting in the air. Looking at it this way, I’d say it makes it pretty good value for a premium product. If you’re thinking of buying one as a generous present for a loved one, be warned, you may not want to part with it when it arrives!
I decided to light the Voya natural reed burner down in our kitchen diner, to take help away daily kitchen smells and introduce a refreshing, uplifting scent to greet us in the early mornings.
I really dislike any type of artificial room scents – actually they make me feel rather nauseous – but this product is all natural and organic and smells lovely. Plus it comes in a beautiful, frosted glass bottle that’s very appealing. It’s priced at 44 euros, so again it’s very much a premium product that will probably be purchased as a treat.
Nutritious and healing
A few hours after my bath treatment I was still feeling incredibly relaxed and my skin felt well cleansed and smooth. I was also extremely thirsty and needed to drink lots of water, which would indicate that the seaweed was having a strong detoxifying effect, in the same way that I’ve experienced with several thalassotherapy (heated sea water) spa treatments in the past.
The benefits of seaweed are plentiful, and there is now much international research and studies to back up health claims. The mineral content of some varieties account for huge 80 per cent of their dry matter. Seaweed also contains algal polyphenols and carotenoids which are powerful antioxidants.
As Voya’s dried seaweed is hydrated in hot water, it releases its natural oils, which remain suspended in the water and are more easily absorbed by the open pores of the bather. The product is said to naturally cleanse and purify, sooth and moisturise, and improve the suppleness and elasticity of the skin. It can help with all kinds of skin complaints, from acne to psoriasis. A Voya customer who was suffering from severe hay fever recently contacted their Facebook page to say that the seaweed bath was the only thing he’d found to alleviate his symptoms.
Luckily, I don’t suffer from any particular health complaints, but I’m always happy to find something that’s a good antidote to daily stress. Voya’s seaweed bath definitely ticked that box.
After all this indulgence, I now was left with only one problem – who was going to clean that post-seaweed bath?
For more information on Voya products, visit their website at www.voya.ie