Being in the wellness industry, we have heard of salt being used as an anti-bacterial and of course, there was the fad of pink Himalayan salt (lamps as well) being good for health as well. However, this was the first time we’ve heard of salt therapy used specifically for the skin and this is the signature treatment of Pablo Blau.
Pablo Blau is Singapore’s first luxury spa that offers treatments in a salt room environment replicated after salt mines and caves in Europe. In doing so, the aim is to harness the therapeutic effects of being in a salt cave together with their treatments to achieve healthier glowing skin and general well-being.
We tried out their customised signature treatment to give you our take on whether it lives up to the claims. But before that, let’s learn a little bit more about salt therapy.
What is salt therapy?
Steeped in history, salt therapy (also knowns as halotherapy) is one of the earliest forms of alternative medical treatment where sick people were taken to the salt caves to convalesce during medieval times. Thereafter, it was observed that salt miners displayed younger and clearer skin, and they also seemed to be cleared of respiratory issues which were in stark contrast to their coal and metal counterparts. Villagers who sought refuge in the Klutert salt mines in Germany during World War II were also discovered to be free from any respiratory conditions.
When fine salt particles are inhaled, they will fall on the airway linings and draw water into the airway, thinning the mucus and making it easier to raise, thus making people feel better,”
– Dr Norman Edelman, Senior Scientific Advisor to the American Lung Association
Throughout history, Eastern Europeans especially have been studying and harnessing the benefits of salt therapy. Wieliczka Salt Mine, UNESCO World Heritage Site, claims 2 million visitors a year¹. Other popular salt mines in Ukraine² and Belarus³ record 9,000 visits a year collectively. People seeking overall health benefits or relief from respiratory ailments, allergies or skin conditions have turned to salt mines and caves. Those who have benefitted from salt therapy claim its effectiveness in reducing over-reliance on medications and credit salt therapy for clear skin.
Despite its long tradition, many sceptics maintain their stance that salt therapy is a placebo but the recent COVID-19 pandemic has spurred a team of scientists at the University of Edinburgh to re-examine the effects of salt and how it may work by boosting cells’ antiviral defence when patients are affected by a cold4. 95% of participants in the study who had a cold and used saltwater to gargle and rinse their nasal passages experienced a shortened duration of illness by two days and reduced intake of medicine such as cough or cold syrup. Moreover, these participants reported similar benefits of clearing of stuffiness, easier breathing and better sleep5.
Singapore’s luxury alternative to salt mines and caves
Well, since we can’t travel often to Europe to those salt mines and caves, Pablo Blau has brought the salt caves to Singapore by replicating and manifesting the conditions within the premises. The treatment rooms, as well as the waiting room just outside the treatment rooms, are entirely coated with pharmaceutical-grade dry salt crystals. Each room is also equipped with a unique salt generator that grinds and produces atmospheric salt particles to create an environment that is allergen and bacteria-free. These microscopic salt particles help to clear congestion and calm inflammation and irritations of the skin.
“In order to achieve the therapeutic effects of salt therapy, we have created an environment closest to that of a salt mine or cave, only more luxurious. Together with our spa treatments, we stimulate and bolster the skin and respiratory tract. We believe that these are our immune system’s first two lines of defence against bacteria, viruses and microbes,” said Ms Nicole Zhang, Centre Manager of Pablo Blau.
As I walked from the waiting area to the treatment room, I couldn’t help but feel like I was at the beach and walking on very rough sand. The air didn’t smell any different from a normal air-conditioned room but I was also told that because Pablo Blau’s atmospheric salt particles, being in the treatment room for 45 minutes would be equivalent to 3 hours spent in a salt cave. Hence, it is quite an efficient manner of getting the benefits of salt therapy while enjoying a spa treatment, which is important in our busy modern lifestyles.
As mentioned earlier, your spa treatment is customised to your skin type. So although there is a menu of spa treatments that you can choose from, the therapist may make some changes and advise you accordingly. As I have sensitive combination skin with a history of eczema, my therapist did a collagen massage for my face and she was not very aggressive with the extraction of blackheads, although I was complaining about the sudden increase of them thanks to the usage of masks, but she did use the vibrating tool to loosen up the blackheads which are then scraped away. I should be grateful that I don’t have maskne (acne due to the wearing of masks), unlike some of my friends.
My therapist told me that one of the ‘side effects’ of salt therapy is feeling very thirsty and that I would need to drink lots of water, which will help in the detox process. Besides the thirst, some may find that their skin might itch slightly. She also shared that some of her regular customers have reported improvements to their eczema and that is something that I was looking for.
Immediately after the facial, my skin did look a bit dewier and quite a lot of my blackheads were removed. However, I would expect that from any facial. True to what the therapist told me, I was very thirsty for the whole afternoon till late night and I believe that I drank more than two litres that evening! The skin on my shoulders and arms started to itch a little in the night but it wasn’t anything as bad as an eczema flare-up.
The next day, my pores still look quite tight and the more stubborn blackheads that were still on my nose and cheeks did not darken or enlarge any further, which would normally happen even if I had a facial the day before. What was a little more incredible was that eczema on my wrist started to clear up on its own! It didn’t itch and I did not have to put any creams or ointments on the area. This continued for about a week, which I think is really incredible because it meant that my skin was actively healing on its own. Definitely a very good experience from just one treatment! Nonetheless, like most natural therapies, you’ll need to go through it several times on a longer-term basis to reap its full benefits. With prices at Pablo Blau starting from S$190, perhaps you might want to pamper yourself once a month and gain additional health perks at the same time.
However…good news to our dear readers! Pablo Blau has a promotion where the Signature Salt Room Customised Facial is now at S$89 and there’s an optional top-up for a customised eye treatment at S$29 for the first 100 customers. Go ahead and book your appointment today at www.pabloblau.com/pbpr!
Raffles City Shopping Centre
252 North Bridge Road
Tel: +65 6261 6885/ 6261 7886
Opening hours: Everyday, 11am to 9pm.