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4 Secret Well-Being Takeaways from Iceland

Written by: Angela Kim

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In 2022, my partner and I took a “radiance retreat" to Paris.

Along the way, we took a "stopover in Iceland" as part of a special program of Iceland Air.


I was blown away by the stunning natural beauty, kind and hospitable people, and delicious meals that rival any of the best French, Middle Eastern, or Asian cuisine I’ve ever had.


As always, when I return from travels, I like to infuse our lifestyle with something we learned from the culture abroad. My four takeaways, below. 

1. Elevate Your Bath Ritual

We decided to divide our adventure up into two days with two extremes: one would be at a public bathhouse and the other would be at a luxurious retreat. I loved both for different reasons.

 

The first night, we headed over to Sundhöll Reykjavíkur where we soaked in steaming hot baths with locals, aged one and up. Seeing moms and their toddlers socialize in groups while relaxing in the water reminded me of the Korean familial spa culture.

Sundhöll Reykjavíkur in Iceland
Blue Lagoon Retreat in Norðurljósavegur, Iceland

The next night, we stayed at the Blue Lagoon Retreat, an otherworldly spa where you can soak in the algae, silica, and mineral-rich geothermal waters of the Blue Lagoon.

I highly recommend the in-water massage, which was the most peaceful, euphoric, and heavenly treatment. (Make sure to reserve in advance since it books up quickly!)

Here’s a bathing ritual for you adapted from Radical Radiance:

RITUAL: Softening Spa Bath

To soften skin and soul
Time: 5 minutes
Ingredients: Manuka Honey Sugar Scrub
Optional upgrades: Candles, music, hot tea, essential oils, bathing oils

 

1. Draw a hot bath; add the optional 2-4 drops of essential oils and 1-2 pumps of bathing oil.

2. Stand up in the bath and apply your sugar scrub all over your body allowing the sugars to exfoliate the skin gently.

3. Soak in the hot bath and receive all of the nourishment from the melted honey and sugar crystals.

4. Say some affirmations such as, “I feel restored and rested” to seal in the soothing benefits of this bath ritual.

2. Turn Your Shower Into a Spa Sanctuary

At the Blue Lagoon Retreat spa, there was a serene self-serve “rituals” area with exfoliating salts, clays, and masks.

 

I’m used to the Korean spa “ajummas” (“aunties”) doing the exfoliation for you, but I loved the idea that we could apply the salts onto our bodies and wash them off at our leisure.

 

This is something you can do weekly at home, too, for a fraction of the price!

My Weekly Exfoliation Ritual

Here’s what I have in my shower for a weekly exfoliation:

 

  • Manuka Honey Sugar Scrub to buff away the dead skin cells for baby-soft skin.

  • Goop Hair Detox for a salt scrub for the hair (I’ve described it as an orgasm for the scalp!)

  • Pumpkin Lactic Acid Peel for gentle skin resurfacing with some gluconic acid action to increase collagen and cell turnover (I usually put this on while washing my hair.)

3. Cook with Love + Hygge

In Reykjavik, I had some of the most delectable meals, which took me by surprise since one doesn’t often hear of Iceland cuisine.

 

One dish was a Gorgonzola Tagliatelle offering at Grazie, a cozy Italian restaurant. I met the chef de cuisine, Zylkade Telati, and I just had to ask for the recipe because it was that delicious!

 

She kindly shared the recipe with me, which I’m now sharing with you!

Gorgonzola Tagliatelle Recipe
100g gorgonzola cheese
100ml panna (cream)
10g salt
7g pepper
1tsp maizena (cornstarch)
Add water as needed

 

Mix together over heat, combine with tagliatelle.

She told me, “The secret ingredient is that you must use gorgonzola cheese and lots of love!”

 

Speaking of love, I love a cozy dinner with candlelight and time to savor. The Icelandic people have mastered the art of hygge (a quality of cozy conviviality that promotes a feeling of contentment or well-being.)

food at The Moss restaurant in Iceland
food at The Moss restaurant in Iceland
food at The Moss restaurant in Iceland
Angela Jia Kim with chef Ollie Dabbous

We had an epic “hygge” meal at The Moss that my partner described as the “most artistic dinner” he’s ever had.

 

The textures and tastes were varied and surprising; even though there were seven courses, the relaxed “hygge” environment helped us to savor every bite and not feel full but immensely satisfied. We even got to meet chef Ollie Dabbous!

 

It was a beautiful reminder to cook with love, light up candles, and savor slowly.

4. Wear a Hair Mask (for Super Soft Texture)

The silica in the Blue Lagoon waters made my skin baby-soft, but it wreaked havoc on my hair, leaving it sticky with a dry residue. Here’s a little hair mask hack that I put on before boarding the plane back to NYC. The next day, my daughter told me she never felt my hair so soft!

 

The Savor Beauty Coconut Pre-Cleanse Oil is a multi-tasking miracle that you can use for many purposes. Not only does it remove makeup and deeply cleanse pores, but it also has lauric acid, which soaks into the strands of your hair to provide moisture to condition and heal damaged ends.

Savor Beauty Founder Angela Jia Kim at the airport

Hair Masking en route Home

Directions: warm up a quarter size of the Coconut Jasmine Pre-Cleanse between palms and apply to the strands of your hair. Don’t forget your scalp if you need the extra conditioning! Pull your hair up into a bun and let the nourishing oils soak into your strands while you go about your day. 

Note: I left this hair mask on for 24 hours, but three hours will leave your hair beautifully conditioned with a gorgeous shine.


 Apply shampoo on dry hair before washing hair to get all of the oils out. If you apply water first, you won’t be able to get the oils out completely.


Thank you, Iceland, for enriching our lives with your glowing and radiant reminders to rest, bathe, and savor life. Until next time, xoXO! 

Angela Jia Kim


ceo angela jia kim with flowers

Angela Jia Kim

Founder of Savor Beauty, Mom to a teen daughter and mini golden, partner to a sweet soul, forever New Yorker, unfortunate carb lover, hopeless Aries 💞

Edited excerpt from RADICAL RADIANCE: by Angela Jia Kim. Copyright © 2022 by the author and reprinted with permission of St. Martin's Publishing Group.

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