Staying Beautiful in Iceland
Looks do matter but staying pretty in Iceland is no trouble at all.
In many ways Iceland is just like the rest of the world when it comes to people wanting to look good. When you visit Iceland you'll notice there are gyms and tanning salons, plenty of beauty parlours and all the usual lotions and potions on offer from people like Nivea, Clinique and Olay.
But in other ways there is plenty that sets our fair island nation apart from the rest – and with all the talk of how youthful and vibrant Icelanders tend to look (not to mention long-lived), you might just want to take the metaphorical 'beauty tour of Iceland'!
The first thing people tend to highlight is the unrivalled fresh spring water flowing from our taps and the fresh, pure diet, which is heavy on fish and seafood. Indeed, these would be very good for people's skin in a world where the average Icelandic diet wasn't as heavy on cola, pizza, candy and alcohol as it is in reality. So the secret must lie somewhere else.
It could be the sun. We simply don't have the option of getting sunburnt outside for six months of the year. And for the other six months the sun is not exactly what you'd describe as ‘Arizona strong'. The ageing effects of strong sunlight are very well-known. But then, on the other hand, Icelanders are extremely fond of sunbeds and their use is more widespread than in a lot of nearby countries. And don't forget that cheap flights to Iceland work both ways, and we love a beach holiday in Spain as much as anyone else!
Okay then, what about the bathing water? The first time you wash your skin and hair in a Reykjavík bath or shower, with its eggy/sulfur smelling natural hot water, you will undoubtedly feel great. The mineral-rich water certainly feels good – and so it probably is good. That doesn't account, however, for all the people who live in places elsewhere in Iceland without this type of hot water.
The spas are another old chestnut, and not one we're going to disagree with. Places like the Mývatn Nature Baths and the Blue Lagoon both make you feel youthful and rejuvenated…and also have their own brand of fancy beauty products for sale containing their unique spa minerals. So they must be good.
Good as they certainly are, it is hard to deny that these products are a cash cow exploiting an obvious business opportunity. You might therefore want to try the Icelandic creams, drops and lotions made for their own sake by companies who really know what they're doing. Top of this list is undoubtedly Sif Cosmetics, the biotech company which meticulously grows its own barley in individual pots at its lab and then extracts a very specific chemical from the seeds which reacts with human skin to speed up its rejuvenation process. The high tech Bioeffect EGF Serum doesn't come cheap, but sources say it really works wonders and it is already conquering the world.
On the more down-to- earth side, the good people of Villimey use a thousand years of study into Icelandic herbs, flowers and plants, and wild harvests from the unspoiled natural abundance of the pristine Westfjords region to make their popular beauty products. There is a similar story behind the equally lovely company, Sóley; based in the capital region and started by a successful actress using her great, great grandmother's recipes.
Last but not least, and although it's superficial, a lot of Icelanders have good hair. And that is thanks to the country's hairdressers who really have taking the cutting of hair to an artform. Grab a cheap flight to Iceland next time you need a trim, you won't regret it?