Why I Traveled Nearly 3,000 Miles for My First Spa Experience

And why it was well worth the trip. 

by Emily Chambers

Photo: Courtesy, Blue Lagoon

Photo: Courtesy, Blue Lagoon

I wouldn’t consider myself a beauty person. Growing up in a small town in central Pennsylvania, my idea of a beauty experience was getting a $15 haircut at Holiday Hair, a no-frills salon at my local mall. At the age of 21, I bought my first foundation—I’m now 22. I let my nail polish chip, and my only massage experience was courtesy of my high school athletic trainer that time I had tendinitis. Despite all this, when I decided to take a post-graduation trip to Iceland, paying a visit to Blue Lagoon geothermal spa was a top priority.

In 2014, Iceland had 997,000 international visitors, of which 700,000 were projected to visit Blue Lagoon. With 100º F-geothermal waters, breathtaking mountain views, otherworldly lava fields, and a range of skin-perfecting natural masks, it’s easy to see why so many people have added this spa to their bucket lists.

Entrance packages at Blue Lagoon range between approximately $50 to $235. I purchased the Premium package, which included a silica mud mask, an algae mask, a bath robe and slippers—plus, my first drink was on the house.

The spa was the first stop on my 11-day vacation in Iceland and I was a little nervous. Not only would this be my first spa experience, it would also become my first solo international trip. But one of the bigger reasons for my heightened sense of anxiety? The showers.

Being raised in the United States, nudity is typically confined to the privacy of your own home. This was not the common attitude at Blue Lagoon. Guests shamelessly stripped down in the locker rooms, baring it all before hopping into the showers for a mandatory rinse before hitting the lagoon. I, however, timidly removed my street clothes, rinsed, and changed into my bathing suit all within the shower stall.

Having arrived at the lagoon around 9 AM it was still pitch-dark outside. Despite it being cold, windy, and rainy, there was a large group of people waiting in line. Among the shivering herd of spa-goers, I quickly hung my robe, kicked off my flip-flops and raced to the warm water.

Instead of the crystal-colored waters I was expecting, I stepped into a black, steaming pool, but once the sun rose, I could fully appreciate the view. The lagoon gets its name from the vibrant blue hue of its waters, which contain a blend of algae, minerals, and silica known to nourish and rejuvenate dry, irritated skin. Though naturally chalky white in color, the high content of silica makes the waters appear aquamarine in the sunlight. The entire day was cold with brisk wind gusts and a constant icy mist of rain. The steam and fog obstructed the full view of my surroundings, but I could feel the warm water and it was fantastic. Every now and then, I'd get a glimpse of a mountain peeking through the mist and some of the lava fields. It felt like I was on another planet.

I spent the entire day alternating between relaxing in the water, detoxing in the sauna, and napping in the relaxation room overlooking the lagoon. At times, I silently thanked myself for this opulent reward for completing three and a half tough years of undergrad. And other moments, I lost myself in my thoughts about what my future as a budding publicist in a major city would hold. Before I allowed those premature first-day jitters to set in, I floated over to the in-water silica bar for a facial.

Photo: Courtesy, Emily Chambers

Photo: Courtesy, Emily Chambers

I applied two silica mud masks, which are said to draw impurities from skin and clarify clogged pores. After rinsing the masks in the lagoon’s waters, my face felt clean and smooth in an instant. The algae mask, which I applied before leaving the spa, is immensely hydrating. Although technically a DIY experience, my very first facial exceeded my expectations. Tempted to purchase an aquatic massage service, I had to remind myself that I'm just a recent college grad with a small budget and ten days of travel still in store. Instead, I took my fellow spa-goers' word for it when they raved about the invigorating massages.

My trip to Blue Lagoon has likely spoiled me for any future spa experiences, as I can’t imagine a better pampering session. I'm already planning my next trip to Iceland and have vowed to make another stop at the spa. In the meantime, I'm adding Blue Lagoon Algae and Silica Mask Duo to my skin care routine for days when I'm in need of a reminder of my time in Icelandic paradise.