Oligomer Bath Soaks
Bring the ocean home.
It sounds like an unlikely claim, but it’s actually not too far from the truth when you use Oligomer Bath Soaks from Phytomer. Based in the Brittany region of France—a huge, rugged peninsula that juts into the Atlantic Ocean and is known for its unpolluted waters, pink-granite coastline, medieval gray-granite fishing villages, and abundant oysters (plus an ancient recipe for a really delicious hard cider to wash them down with)—the company still sources 80% of its active ingredients from the ocean that surrounds Brittany.
And, incredibly, with a process that Phytomer’s founder, Jean Gédouin, came up with in 1972, it’s possible for you to partially reconstruct that same mineral-rich water that crashes on the Breton coast in your own bathtub, without any drama or engineering skills.
Still a manufacturing secret held by the family-run company, the technique involves taking clean ocean water, freeze-drying it, and removing much of its salt, leaving a pure powder of ocean minerals and 104 trace elements—literally, a seawater concentrate. Named Oligomer, the potent concentrate is integrated into most of Phytomer’s face and body products, but you can also purchase it alone, in a simple one-use sachet for your bath called Oligomer Pure Lyophilized Sea Water Bath. According to Phytomer, which became a cult-favorite skincare line in France and opened its own marine-based spa after the Oligomer process was discovered, the act of freeze-drying (not heat-drying) seawater suspends and preserves the active properties found naturally in the ocean until you reactivate them with water. Soaking in an Oligomer Pure bath is intended to re-mineralize the skin, re-energize the body overall as it absorbs trace nutrients, and reduce fatigue at the cellular level.
Trying Oligomer Pure Lyophilized Sea Water Bath at Home
Adding the fine, silty white powder to plain tap water, you get the feeling that your bath is all of a sudden slightly exotic and very therapeutic, and according to clinical results that Phytomer has released, that feeling might actually be more than in your head. In tests on two groups of 26 volunteers—one group had baths with the Oligomer seawater concentrate and the other had plain baths—after just one soak, 88% of the Oligomer group reported feeling rested, 96% felt reduced tension, and 96% reported a feeling of well being. Just 23% of the comparison group reported the same results in each of the three categories. And after one month of two baths per week, 80% of the Oligomer-bath-takers reported soothed skin, while only 22% of the plain-water group said the same.
When I’ve tried the powder in my humble tub, I’ve noticed a distinct change to bumpy skin: the small follicular bumps that are usually visible on my upper arms and legs subside—my skin becomes flat and smooth. Note that unlike some bath soaks, Oligomer Pure Lyophilized Sea Water Bath contains no added hydration, oil, or scent. It’s simply pure marine nutrients. After the bath, my skin isn’t dry, but it isn’t moisturized, either. It feels clean, uninflamed, and soothed.
Truth really be told, though, the most soothing thing about taking a bath with Oligomer Pure concentrate is imagining the source of the product: the coastline near the historic port of Saint-Malo, where Phytomer is still based and manufactures all of its products. It’s a walled town, known for its rows of austere, granite townhouses that teeter over aqua blue water, protected by a stone fortress on an islet offshore, not far from the beautiful, magical, otherworldly island of Mont Saint-Michel (Google that!), oaky hard cider being pressed nearby, towers of icy shucked oysters served at the local brasserie. . . . If you’re like me, it is very easy to get lost in Oligomer seawater concentrate.
Oligomer Pure Lyophilized Sea Water Bath sachet ($11.50) is available at Mynd locations nationwide. Simply adding it to warm bathwater for a short soak works wonders, but for a spa-like experience, Phytomer recommends the following technique: Fill your bath first with water that’s around your body temperature or slightly above (98–102°F), and mix in Oligomer Pure. It should dissolve quickly. Soak for 15–20 minutes; then leave the bath and relax in a towel or robe for 15–20 minutes to allow the minerals and trace elements to continue to sink in. Return to the bath, and finish the treatment with a refreshing shower and application of moisturizer. (Try moisturizing products from Phytomer’s Oligomer line for added remineralization.)