Sometimes, you just have to dig in and get your hands dirty... even when it comes to spa treatments. Still, when Dawn Buchanan at Spa Tir Na Nog told me I wasn’t going to believe how amazing her Moor Mud Wrap was, I was dubious. I’m not what you might call “someone who likes filth.” In fact, an elementary school teacher once dashed my childhood dreams of being Indiana Jones when she said to me “Julie, you can’t be an archaeologist. You’d have to get dirt on you.”
Still, I was willing to give this wrap thing a shot. Dawn may have wanted to swathe me in wet dirt, but she was promising fancy wet dirt: Austrian moor mud, taken from river beds through which animal and plant matter have been flowing for thousands of years, resulting in highly mineralized mud that’s good for your skin and your health. It’s so rare that only one other place in the state, in Newport, offers it. That? That I’m willing to get messy for.
I met Dawn in the 18th century colonial on South Main Street that houses Spa Tir Na Nog (the name comes from Irish folklore – Tir Na Nog is the mythical island of perpetual youth). The building isn’t your typical bamboo-and-fountain-filled spa – fireplaces abound, and the rooms are bright and sunny, offering gorgeous, uninterrupted views of the Providence River.
It was time to get down to business. I got undressed and laid down on a spa bed covered in a giant piece of mylar, covered just by a towel. As Dawn applied the warmed mud to my body – warmed only by a water bath, not the microwave, which kills all of the active ingredients in the mud – she explained its health benefits. The purifying mud detoxifies the system, tones and firms the skin, and rebalances the hormones. It’s also such an effective anti-inflammatory that she has used it extensively on cancer patients to relieve chemo-induced swelling and water retention. She discovered the mud, Dawn explained to me, when she trained in France and Austria after graduating from beauty school here in Rhode Island.
Which brings me to my next point: you can’t be shy when you’re getting a mud wrap. The first time I had a body wrap, it was done by a demure American girl, and she only touched my arms, legs and back. This time, I was having a body wrap done by someone who comes from the European (read: less modest) school of beauty. I had that mud everywhere. I mean, everywhere. Because Dawn is such a pro, and was so good at making me feel comfortable, I didn’t mind the nudity, but I’m not going to say it wasn’t a surprise.
She wrapped me up and left me under a heat lamp for half an hour. I don’t know if I slept or if I just went in to a meditative trance, but I felt great when I woke up. After showering all the black mud off, I got back on the table for a liberal application of Phytomer’s Gommage Corporel, a seaweed-based moisturizer. After, my skin felt amazing, but more than that, I felt like I had more energy when I left the spa, like my body was more balanced. Totally worth getting a little bit messy.
Spa Tir Na Nog. 403 South Main Street. 454-7546. spatirnanog.com