Ahava

Ahava At-A-Glance

Strengths: Most of the cleansers are good.

Weaknesses: Expensive; several of the daytime moisturizers with sunscreen do not list active ingredients; Dead Sea mud is not the cure-all for anyone's aging skin; disappointing toners; lackluster moisturizers and serums; jar packaging; no AHA or BHA products; no products to manage acne; no products to lighten skin discolorations; average masks; irritating men's products.

Ahava is the Hebrew word for love, and this group has adopted it for these skin-care products imported from Israel. Other than the endearing title, the point of difference for Ahava is that their products contain salts and minerals from the Dead Sea in Israel. So, you ask, is your skin going to love these products because they contain Dead Sea water? Supposedly, Cleopatra did, and, of course, she must have had skin to die for, or else Mark Antony wouldn't have risked everything for her. Is that a good enough reason to consider these products for your own skin-care routine? We hope not. Aside from the folklore, there is little truth behind the hype—why would anyone believe that Cleopatra knew any more about skin care than she did about computers or cell phones—and skin care in this millennium is indeed akin to rocket science.

Keep in mind the Dead Sea in Israel is called "dead" because nothing can live in it (technically, there are some bacteria and fungi that can). There are many environmental factors that contribute to making the Dead Sea one of the saltiest lakes in the world, but we won't get into that discussion. A comparison should give you an idea of just how salty it is. The seawater in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans has a salt content of 3–4%, while the Dead Sea has a salt content of 32%, as well as a large concentration of minerals such as sulfur, magnesium, calcium, bromide, and potassium. If you haven't been to the Dead Sea, we can tell you the aroma of the sulfur in the water is overwhelming. It is hard to imagine that anything so noxious would be considered a desirable beauty treatment.

Despite the smell and the high mineral content, there are no clinical studies or research showing that Dead Sea minerals have any effect on wrinkles, discolorations, sagging skin, or acne. There are, however, several studies demonstrating that Dead Sea minerals can have a positive effect on psoriatic skin, a practice known as climatotherapy (Sources: International Journal of Dermatology, October 2007, pages 1087–1091; Journal of Dermatological Treatment, May-June 2005, pages 308–313; and Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, September 2003, pages 451–457). Psoriasis is a skin condition characterized by rapidly dividing, overactive skin cells. How the Dead Sea minerals and salts affect psoriasis is still being debated. One of the more popular theories is that the mineral content of the water slows down the out-of-control cell division. Some research indicates that the benefit is cumulative and that the results can last for up to five months. Immersing psoriasis-afflicted skin in Dead Sea minerals is also a treatment that is better-tolerated than many conventional medical options.

Studies by the Department of Medicine and Department of Epidemiology and Dermatology at the Soroka Medical Center of Kupat-Holim in Israel and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev on psoriasis and other skin rashes noted that "improvement [in skin] was found when patients soaked in two pounds/one kilo for three baths per week, for a period of six weeks." Now that's a lot of Dead Sea water, and certainly not the amount you would get by using these products. Most important, however, if you are looking for Dead Sea water to heal wrinkles, think again, because wrinkles are completely unrelated to psoriasis or other skin rashes.

Even if Dead Sea salts could benefit normal skin in some way, the amount you'll find in the Ahava products and products from other Dead Sea–oriented lines are infinitesimally small in comparison with the amounts used in the published studies, and your skin deserves so much more than these one-note products can deliver. For more information about Ahava, call (800) 366-7254 or visit www.ahavaus.com.

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