The jury is still out on most of these ideas, but beer has been used topically for centuries. It's thought that the women of ancient Egypt and Rome used beer regularly as part of the beauty routine to help keep the skin smooth and diminish discoloration. Perhaps inspired by this early wisdom, some modern-day cosmetics companies have even started adding brewer's yeast to their products, claiming the yeast helps acne sufferers and enables the skin to maintain a healthy pH balance. Taking the beer trend one step further, beer spas are gaining popularity as well.
Beer spas are popular throughout Europe including countries such as Austria, the Czech Republic and Germany. Many of them can be found within the walls of breweries. Visitors can indulge in beer-inspired treatments such as healing baths, facials, wraps and massages.
Simply put, Europeans love their beer! The beer baths in particular are extremely popular, due in part to the social aspect of the experience. Baths are often grouped in one large room so visitors can enjoy the warm water and a pint amongst friends. The novelty of beer-inspired treatments attracts visitors from around the world. Is there science behind this idea? One popular beer spa found at the Chodovar brewery in the Czech Republic has partnered with a local doctor and 'curative specialist' (otherwise known as a balneologist or an expert in the science of bathing) to develop their bath recipes. Dr. Roman Vokatý believes that the beer baths 'have curative effects on the complexion and hair, relieve muscle tension, warm up joints and support (the) immune system.'
To create a soothing beer bath, active beer yeast, hops and a mixture of dehydrated crushed herbs are added to mineral water heated to around 93 degrees. Finally, the brewery/spa's signature beer is added, creating frothy bubbles reminiscent of a frosty cold mug. After bathing for 20 to 25 minutes, you are sent to relax while wrapped in warm sheets. This cocoon-stage allows the skin to soak up all the benefits of the detoxifying, skin-smoothing bath.
So far, the beer spa trend has not caught on in the States, but the success of the European locations is sure to inspire growth in North America. A spa director at a high-end resort in Colorado, where breweries abound, said the beer spa idea sounds interesting enough to explore but adds the concept would only be introduced at the resort 'after our team conducted extensive research to ensure the health benefits are really there.'
Believers in beer baths say each ingredient has a purpose. The soothing, warm water allows your pores to open, drawing out toxins and stimulating the circulatory system. The hops help to exfoliate the skin, sloughing off the dead upper layer. The active beer yeast is considered an extremely healing ingredient and contains B vitamins and saccharides, which help purify and renew the skin while locking in moisture. It is also thought that beer yeast helps with skin elasticity and acne by slowing the production sebum and killing pimple-causing bacteria. The bubbling carbonated water infuses the bath with minerals and invites visitors to slip into deep relaxation.
It's probably not a good idea to dump cases full of beer into your tub, but you can sample the benefits of beer at home with an easy-to-make beer mask.
Combine 1 tbsp. of your favorite beer with 1 tsp. plain yogurt, 1 tsp. olive oil, 1 egg white, 1 tsp. lemon extract and 1 tsp. almond extract.
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