The simplest way to wellness is not through self-denial or punishing diet and exercise regimes. It’s by taking a bath, but we’re not talking about a standard soak in the tub (although that’s never a bad thing), rather one filled with Newton Wood’s Epsom salt crystals – a centuries-old cure-all which is the secret weapon in many an athlete and A-lister’s bathroom cabinet.
These salts were discovered right here in our hometown and the craze for them back in the 17th century gave birth to Epsom’s other famous export – The Derby. A luxury brand with local roots but global ambitions (there are plans to launch in the US and Europe later this year), Newton Wood® is giving Epsom salt a luxurious, sustainable spin. We spoke to founder Leslie Wilson to find out how these clever crystals can make all the difference to your physical and mental wellbeing.
Let’s start at the beginning. During the long, hot summer of 1618 Henry Wicker was looking for water for his cows on Epsom Common in an area called Newton Wood. His cattle refused to drink from a small pool and on trying it himself he found the water to be salty with mild laxative properties (we’ll skim over that bit). Henry had stumbled upon a remedy for constipation. By 1621 the Lord of the Manor had cleared the land around the springs – still known as The Wells – and people were flocking to Epsom to ‘take the waters’. The hotels, Assembly Rooms and horse racing on the Downs quickly appeared to cater for the visitors. By the 1700s the wells were drying up and Epsom’s spa town heyday was over, however ‘Epsom salt’ stuck as the popular name for magnesium sulphate (MgSO4).
These days, Epsom salt crystals are prized for their anti-inflammatory properties, easing aches and pains when dissolved in water. But this traditional remedy has some very modern applications, while neatly tapping into the growing demand for ‘clean’ products, as Leslie Wilson explains. ‘Made from the highest-grade Epsom salt, our crystals are just as nature intended, without any artificial production methods and UK-made biodegradable packaging.’ Organic and vegan-friendly, they are free from parabens, sodium lauryl sulphates, artificial colours, perfumes and other nasties – ideal if you have sensitive skin or simply want to avoid toxins and microbeads.
‘Whether you’re on your feet all day or in front of a computer, a soak with 100g of the crystals in the evening will help you relax while alleviating the symptoms of repetitive strain injury. If you’re in a salt bath, just lean back and let your hair soak in the water. Rinse with fresh water afterwards and you’ll see and feel the difference,” says Leslie.
And if you’re not a bath person, you needn’t miss out. These particular Epsom salt crystals are made using a technique that doesn’t just give them a diamond-like sparkle, it lets them mix easily with your favourite shower gel, cleanser, shampoo or conditioner. A gentle, natural exfoliant for the skin, the crystals will also give the scalp a deep cleanse resulting in shiny, squeaky-clean hair.
But let’s finish where we started, in the tub. There’s something about the ritual of running a bath, maybe pouring a glass of wine and lighting some candles, before sinking in for a long, contemplative soak. You might read a book or just close your eyes and escape the stresses of daily life for a while. It’s so much more than just ‘getting clean’, it’s about letting the water soothe your aches and cares away, so you feel physically and mentally replenished. Adding a scoop of Newton Wood® crystals to the mix will simply take that experience to the next level (glowing skin, shiny hair, better sleep). As self-care goes, it’s as easy and effective as it gets.