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Growing up I was told the ocean was good for skin. I took the advice from family members with a grain of salt because they weren’t skin experts nor were they ocean experts.
I remember wondering if the ocean was good for skin and if it was why did it sometimes sting my eyes or small scrapes that I had.
As we’ll learn in this article, the ocean is excellent for your skin for a number of reasons. It contains a high amount of minerals that can absorb into you skin. Sand stirred up by waves can act as an exfoliator that scrubs and polishes skin. Furthermore, saltwater in the ocean can naturally rinse and soothe sinuses similar to a saline rinse (or neti pot).
Occasionally those old wives tales have some truth behind them. Let’s explore the many reasons the ocean is good for your skin.
4 Reasons The Ocean Is Good For Your Skin
#1 The Ocean Is Mineral Rich
Skin is the largest organ of the human body so it’s really important to care for it. Few people have a naturally perfect complexion and many of us apply lotion on a daily basis to nourish our skin.
Skin largely relies on the liquids we consume to stay hydrated and obtains minerals and vitamins from the foods we eat (hence why eating healthy is good for your skin).
But did you know your skin can also absorb minerals, nutrients and even chemicals? Skin is actually considered waterproof so you’ll never want to rehydrate by sitting in a bath.
However, your skin can absorb minerals through a process known as “selective absorption”.
Selective absorption means that your body can block water from penetrating your skin but can allow minerals like magnesium to enter your body. Thus, activities like bathing and swimming in the ocean can be a means for your body to acquire essential minerals.
It also means that chemicals like chlorine can also enter the skin and potentially harm your body.
Swimming in the ocean can provide your body sodium, potassium, magnesium, and manganese among others. To this day some homeopathic doctors still prescribe swims in the ocean for skin conditions like eczema and people still flock to the Dead Sea to bathe in its mineral rich water.
The Dead Sea has a high concentration of minerals including sodium, magnesium, bromide, iodine, calcium, sulfur, zinc, and potassium.
Although you won’t actually feel the minerals entering your body, many people believe this is why you often feel refreshed and rejuvenated after swimming in the ocean.
#2 Sand Can Exfoliate Your Skin
Sand is a big part of going to the beach and lying on the warm sand is one of those childhood experiences we never forget. In fact, we dream about days spent at the beach and on the sand.
Sand is made from the rocks around the beach. Sometimes this results in a white sand beach while other beaches are black sand from volcanic rocks. These tiny grains of sand aren’t just on the beach. They’re also in the water.
When waves crash in the ocean it stirs up sand. The sand particles become suspended in the ocean water and come into contact with us when we swim.
Now imagine millions of tiny sand particles brushing against our skin. Similar to sandpaper, sand in the ocean helps rub dead skin off your body and let fresh skin glow.
An easy way to recognize the ocean’s scrubbing potential is to look at your toenails and fingernails after swimming in the ocean – there’s usually no dirt in them!
If sand is exfoliating your skin it also means it’s washing away your sunscreen. So make sure you keep your glow and don’t get sunburned.
#3 The Ocean Acts As a Sinus Rinse
The ocean does more than just clean our skin, it also helps the inside of our body. Many people struggle with sinus problems due to allergies, stress, and general congestion.
If you’ve used sinus irrigation or neti pots you’ll notice that the main additive to the water is a saline solution. The saline helps moisturize and the sinuses as it rinses them.
Well, the ocean has its own saline solution called salt water! In addition, there are plenty of minerals that we discussed earlier. Now, I’m not saying anyone should use ocean water to rinse their nose, but while swimming in the ocean water will naturally make its way into the ears and nose and it will gently wash the sinuses.
When people exit the ocean their sinuses often feel clear and experience less inflammation so they can breath easier. It’s not only a benefit realized when swimming.
People who live near the beach tend to have healthier respiratory systems and a contributing factor is the saltwater-filled air they breathe!
#4 Ocean Water Can Be An Antiseptic (Wound Healing Capabilities)
Many would argue that the ocean should never be called an antiseptic. At certain times of the year (after heavy rains) or in areas where sewage is dumped near shore, the ocean can make people ill.
The ocean is full of bacteria from both living and non-living things and it’s constantly recycling its contents.
With this said, the ocean does have antiseptic properties that can be beneficial. Saltwater tends to clean and dry out small wounds that are healing (like scrapes and cuts).
The salt water also moisturizes dry skin. Ailments like eczema and psoriasis tend to benefit from the mineral-rich ocean water as well. The ocean tends to clean the outer layers of skin as well so it’s great for exfoliation.
When The Ocean Might Be A Bad Option For Your Skin
There are times when exposing your skin to the ocean might be a bad idea. Open wounds. Here are a few examples:
- Open wounds (fresh without time to heal)
- Older wounds that have been infected
- After rain (waste and bacteria on land tends to drain into oceans)
- If sewage is deposited into the ocean without being treated (occurs less in developed countries)
Wounds that haven’t begun the healing process will usually sting when they enter the salty ocean water. Wounds that have scabbed over can usually benefit from the ocean.
The ocean can be very good for your skin. I’ve been swimming with skin rashes, with acne, with scrapes and bruises and I’ve never had a problem with my skin.
Getting sunburned can be horrible for your skin so don’t confuse the sun with the beneficial effects of the ocean water.
In this article, we covered 4 ways the ocean can be good for your skin. They are:
- The ocean is mineral rich
- The ocean is exfoliating
- The ocean can help rinse sinuses
- The ocean can be antiseptic given the right circumstance
The ocean does have healing properties for skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis and it can help wounds if they are already covered with scabs. Your skin can actually absorb minerals from the ocean!
If you have fresh or open wounds you might not want to enter the water. The salty water can sting!
Even if your skin is in great shape make sure you’re extra careful swimming after heavy rains or if there have been nearby sewage spills in the ocean.
The ocean does a great job at decomposing organic matter and cleaning human errors but occasionally it can be overwhelmed!