If you grew up in rural Canada, particularly on a farm or ranch with animals that eat hay, you may be one step ahead of the newest beauty trend. It’s called hay bathing, and it’s (hopefully) a lot less itchy than it sounds.
Hay bathing, which was recently noted as an up-and-coming beauty trend by WGSN trend forecasters, is pretty straightforward: you relax in a pile of dried grass, a.k.a. hay. According to the experts, this restorative grassy nap is a 200-year-old tradition that originated in Austria.
“Hay bathing came to light as locals noticed the benefit of hay as a source of pain relief and energizer for the body, as experienced by farmers who slept in it,” the WGSN report states.
“Treatments use fermented alpine hay, combined with healing herbs such as arnica, heather and thyme, which are full of essential oils.”
The old-school method is a basic snooze in the loft of the barn, but the new-age way is a little more complex. The idea is that wet, warm and fermented hay, as well as alpine flowers and grasses and sometimes herbs, are combined in a therapeutic and purifying mixture that is applied to the body. The heat of the mixture encourages the skin to expel unwanted toxins and fluids and improves soreness in muscles as well as circulation. It all sounds relatively delightful, albeit scratchy. And, of course, if you have an allergy to hay, this is probably your worst nightmare.
“Ancient rituals are celebrated more than ever — the benefits are well-known and have been around for thousands of years, so there is a greater element of trust,” Theresa Yee, a trend expert and beauty editor at WGSN told Fashionista.
If you want to try traditional hay bathing, there’s spa at Hotel Heubad in northern Italy that offers a luxe treatment where patrons are encased in a variety of locally-sourced hay and grasses that have been heated up in hot water. Guests are wrapped in the hay mixture for 20 minutes, and when it’s removed, can potentially feel a handful of changes in circulation as well as to the inner organs and in the appearance of the skin.
Like so many modern trends to emerge from the beauty world, hay bathing does sound a little bit wacky at first, but it’s one that’s been used for centuries in cultures around the world. If our ancient ancestors saw benefits from something as simple as sloping warm hay on their bods, then it’s probably worth trying at least once. Plus, adventuring to the country to collect armfuls of hay and filling a bathtub with hot water and the dried grass is certainly more budget-friendly than a $200 tub of La Mer.