Worth their Weight in Salt (and Sulphur).
In Małopolska, beauty and health care are turning into a truly regional product, and it is not for nothing that the region ranks second in Poland in terms of officially registered health resorts and first in terms of amount, diversity, quality, and use of minerals (mostly dissolved in water) with therapeutic values.
Salt is a mineral that has long been reviled for its impact on our digestive system and body, while sulphur has been considered so detrimental that it became an attribute of hell and its devils centuries ago. Yet, when used in cosmetics, both salt and sulphur abandon the dark side and lend their forces to our health.
The perfectly and absolutely visitable Salt Mine in Wieliczka is perhaps the longest operating industrial facility in Europe, as the first organised attempts at collecting and evaporating brine were made in distant prehistoric times, and salt was mined in a royal enterprise in the early days of the kings. As the value of salt has diminished and is perhaps only remembered in the phrase “worth their weight in salt”, other than offering a subterranean route for the visitors, the mine uses its salt for making unique cosmetics – ranging from anti-aging massage gels, via body care sprays and body peelings with brine, to crystal bathing salts – helping you regenerate and moisturise your skin, and make it pleasant to the touch.
Sulphur is found in Swoszowice, on the outskirts of Kraków, and has been used for therapeutic and cosmetic purposes. Apart from a wide range of therapeutic procedures based on the local mineral waters with large quantities of sulphur, the Swoszowice Spa uses the mineral for the cosmetics it sells.
Whether from Wieliczka or Bochnia salt mines or from the spa in Swoszowice, cosmetics with salt and sulphur bring some of the subterranean magic to the surface for you and make fantastic souvenirs from Małopolska.
Unlike the cheap commercial white chemical product you find in your corner shop, the rock salt from Bochnia and Wieliczka that has waited for you under tons of rocks for millennia offers unique tastes and colours thanks to the chemical impurities.
The salt crystals sold in the mines are real, albeit perishable, gems. Unlike diamonds, they are vulnerable to light and moisture, so setting one up on the mantelpiece will let you observe how it is slowly obliterated as the humid air blunts the sharp edges of the crystals and makes its transparent walls translucent and then milky.