The most important thing I learned in Iceland is that Volcanic ash skincare is life changing. But let me back up.
I have something kind of embarrassing to admit: When I got to Iceland, I was pretty confused about the difference between a “glacier” and an “iceberg.” As it turns out, an iceberg is a temporary, floating hunk of ice in an ocean/river/lake (which was responsible for killing Leonardo Dicaprio at the end of Titanic), while a glacier is a permanent landmass that also happens to be home to the best skincare secret I’ve ever discovered.
During my trip last month, I had the opportunity to hike the Falljökull glacier with Glacier Guides Tours (which, BTW, I would highly recommend). On the day of our excursion, my three PIC’s and I pulled up (late.), wearing 6 extra layers and the complete wrong shoes, and got a LOT of dirty looks from the other, wayyyy more hardcore looking, hikers. Once we were properly suited up, it was a 30 minute hike to the glacier. We walked down a dirt path and over three rickety bridges, careful not to disturb the native moss growing everywhere (fun fact: Icelandic Moss is one of only three things that grows in Iceland. The other two are bananas and tomatoes). Our ice picks were swinging everywhere, so it’s a real miracle that we didn’t kill each other. Next, it was time to put on our “crampons,” which were basically metal spikes in our shoes that would help us grip onto the ice. As someone who spent two years as a fashion assistant sprinting around NYC in stilettos carrying garment bags, these were really NBD.
As we ascended the glacier, I kept having to stop to literally pinch myself. It was so incredible, it didn’t quite seem real. It felt like we were on some other planet (or, at the very least, on earth during the ice age) and it was nothing like I’ve ever seen before. The pictures speak for themselves:
On the way down, our tour guide told me he had a “special surprise” for me. TBH, I thought he was flirting, but it turned out that since I told him I was a beauty writer, he wanted to show me some dirt that had borderline-magical skincare properties. He handed me some literal black ash from the ground, and told me to rub it on my face.
“You’re fucking with me,” I said in the most ladylike way possible. “You just want me to look like an idiot.”
After a few back-and-forths (this time I’m pretty sure he really was flirting), I finally agreed to give it a try. This is what I looked like:
Hours later (my friends failed to tell me my face was covered in dirt for the majority of the day… thanks guys) when I was finally able to get it all off, my skin felt amazing. The dirt had somehow managed to exfoliate and moisturize, and my face was softer than I’d ever felt it. As someone who’s used to using $100+ skincare products to achieve results that don’t hold a candle to this straight-from-the-ground dirt, I was impressed.
As it turns out, this miracle stuff wasn’t just regular dirt. It was volcanic ash, which apparently has all kinds of skin healing properties. It’s known as “Mother Nature’s skin purifier,” because it’s rich in minerals which act as an exfoliator while also cleansing the skin. Cool? Cool.
Since flights to Iceland are $$$ (and the glacier is a longgggg 5-and-a-half-hour drive from the airport. sigh.), here are five volcanic ash skincare products that can help you get the same straight-from-the-ground-amazing-skin that I got in Iceland. You’re welcome.
MAC Mineralize Volcanic Ash Exfoliator
This is one of the OG volcanic products, and works to cleanse and exfoliate in pretty much the same way as the real thing.
Boscia Charcoal Deep-Pore Exfoliating Peel Gel With Volcanic Sand
I’m personally in love with all things Boscia (fun fact! their whole product line is all-natural!) and this cleanser is no exception. It does kind of feel like you’re rubbing legit dirt on your face, but in a good way. I swear.
GlamGlow VOLCASMIC™ Matte Glow Moisturizer
When it comes to skin, a volcasm is better than an orgasm TBH. This moisturizer is chock-full of nourishing minerals that will help glow-up your skin morning, noon and night.
The Face Shop Jeju Volcanic Lava Pore Essence, Pore Treatment Serum
The Face Shop has an entire line of volcanic skincare products from South Korea’s Jeju Island. I’m not sure how Korean ash compares to Icelandic ash, but I would imagine it’s still pretty 👌🏼👌🏼👌🏼 for your skin. Plus, JEJU will give you good JUJU! (sorry. I’m tired.)
Esfolio Pure Skin Volcanic Ash Essence Sheet Mask
Everyone loves a Korean sheetmask, so it seemed against my better beauty judgement not to include one on this list. Haven’t tried it, but the volcano animations are küt.