The Dead Sea gave my skin life.

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I don't know if you can tell, so let me just start by saying that I'm giving you my best Loch Ness monster impersonation in this photo. Now let me explain why I've covered myself in this grayish-green stuff.

My skin has been extra-wonky the past few months with hormone-related breakouts and weird patches of dry skin; I've generally just felt like my skin had a more papery quality to it than usual. I can thank pregnancy for all these lovely little skin fiascos, which also means I have to be extra-careful with what I put on my skin I'm canceling out parabens, endocrine disrupters, and a variety of other things that could potentially make their way to my little fetus, and whether or not these concerns are proven, it's not a risk I'm down to take.

At my most recent OBGYN visit, I asked what I could do to fix the skin issues at the very least. She told me to drink more water, and when I reminded her that I'm drinking as much as I can without puking, she understood I was looking for a more intense and realistic approach to making the skin dramas dry up.

"Try some natural mud treatments. They don't have preservatives or retinoids usually, and that's what your body can tolerate. I'm not sure which mud is right for you, but at least it'll be fun to scare your husband."

Thanks, doc.

So I got to emailing every derm I've ever met (and I've met a lot in this career of beauty writing), and just about all of them responded quickly suggesting Dead Sea mud as my best bet. It turns out the Dead Sea is extremely rich in magnesium, sodium, potassium, and loaded with anti-bacterial elements, all of which are good for clearing up spots of acne without harsh acids or synthetic chemicals; plus, the balance of sodium and potassium sort of trap water in the top layer of skin, leaving it super-plump and hydrated instead of the weird papery texture I'd been experiencing for the past few months.

I promptly bought myself a large, jumbo size bag of the best-known Dead Sea mud out there, AHAVA, and covered my face, neck, and chest with it and just kind of hoped for the best. I let it sit on my face till it was dry and kind of cakey (about 25 minutes in the heat of my NYC balcony), and headed for a quick shower.

I think it's important to note that I didn't use any face washes or soap to get the mud off. A washcloth and warm water were my only de-mudding tools, and they worked just fine. I didn't want to ruin my experiment in a scientific way by adding another set of ingredients or products to the mix, so I went purely with the mud and water experience.

I emerged from the shower clean and instantly noticed my skin was ultra-smooth — like, not normal levels of smooth. The papery texture was gone, and my forehead apparently just became a major watering hole of Dead Sea mud-infused moisture. I was pleased but figured I needed to give it a few more days to see if the results were long-lasting.

Lo and behold, not a single zit for five days after that mud treatment! In pregnancy years, that's like forever.

The moisture part definitely kept up for a day or two after as well, but I did use my regular day cream with SPF by the next morning, because as hydrated as my skin was, I wasn't willing to risk wrinkling, skin cancer, and/or sun spots.

The best benefit, though, was that I felt a slight boost in energy, which is also saying a lot for a gal who is six months along in a pregnancy. It turns out that magnesium, which Dead Sea products are rich in, is most easily absorbed through the skin, and women experiencing hormonal swings (like pregnant gals or PMS times) are in serious need of more magnesium, also the same reason women tend to crave chocolaty things during our periods, because that heavenly substance is rich in magnesium.

So while the sea itself may be dead, the mud gave my skin life, and strangely, I felt more alert and focused for the remainder of the day. It's definitely messy, so don't do this near your favorite fancy towels, but it's beyond worth $16 for the bag of mud that will last several weeks, if not months.

Extra bonus: You can scare the daylights out of any children in your home or neighborhood. My kids screamed "ZOMBIE!" and ran when they saw me. Win.

  • Have you tried any mud treatments?
  • What's your favorite messy beauty ritual?