The geothermal waters of Iceland’s Blue Lagoon pools draw visitors from around the world for their health qualities and stunning appearance. However there are some unusual side effects of dipping in the famous spa pools that are less appealing.
The naturally occurring sky blue colour comes from silica content in the water. It’s this otherworldly water which draws bathers and Instagrammers to the spot, but you may want to do some research before you dive in headfirst.
Situated only half an hour from Keflavík International Airport in Reykjavik, it’s an eye-catching attraction that draws around a million visitors from the tourist route. Few realise that it is a by-product of a local power plant.
Bubbling up from the fissures below Iceland, the spectacular tourist attraction was created by accident.
The public pools were formed from discharge from the geothermal power plant in Svartsengi. Instead of draining, the silica salts caused the water to pool up on the ancient lava fields. It didn’t take long for bathers to venture out into the lagoon.
In 1999 the spa pools were officially opened to the public, with man made facilities. They are perfectly safe to swim in but the unique blue brine has some side-effects that few people discus until after a dip.
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As a geothermal power plant there are no health concerns from bathing in the discharge of the thermal aquifers. In fact, the spa promotes the therapeutic and healing qualities of the brine. What few people discuss are the other effects of the salty mineral water on clothes and hair.
On Friday visitor Marissa Carlino uploaded a video to TikTok titled “PSA don’t put your hair in the blue lagoon!”
The 25-year-old influencer shared her hair horror story of salt water frizz which is proving almost impossible to treat. The PSA has racked up more than 9.5 million views.
“After putting a deep conditioner in for 6 hours and 3 washes, it’s almost back to normal,” she said.
Another visitor, Amelia Carta-McCarthy from England, complained that she wasn’t warned about the effect it would have on her hair, leaving her with a tangled mane weeks after.
“Whatever you do don’t put your hair under the water,” she told her TikTok followers.
Sharing pictures of split ends shooting out in bunches like Pippi Langstrumpf, she complained “my hair was stuck like this for weeks.”
The travel influencer told Insider Magazine that she had no warning of the lasting effect the water would have on her appearance.
“There were no signs on how the water would negatively impact your hair, but there were signs saying to put your hair up,” she said.
The FAQs section of the Blue Lagoon’s website does warn visitors that there are less desirous effects from the concentrated mineral waters.
One of the most searched help topics is how to repair ‘Blue Lagoon hair’ after a visit to the spa pools.
Many visitors choose to wear a swimming cap, although these do tend to be unaesthetically pleasing for that sought-after Blue Lagoon selfie. Conditioner is apparently the secret to avoiding Captain Caveman hair - with many advising visitors apply it before and after swimming.
“While geothermal seawater is beneficial for the scalp, it can leave the hair matted and unmanageable. For this reason, we encourage visitors to use conditioner before and after experiencing the lagoon,” says the lagoon’s website.
Jewellery and swimming costumes affected by Blue Lagoon Waters
Other visitors have complained that bathing costumes and objects worn into the Blue Pools have been affected by the waters.
Visitors are advised to rinse swimming suits “with cold water and soap after using the lagoon” to stop crusty salts forming in the materials. The lagoon offers rental costumes for $9.50 a day, for visitors who would rather not use their own togs.
Jewellery has an effect of rusting and dissolving anodized metal coating in the brine, which is full of salt ions.
The pools advice that metal objects can be damaged by geothermal seawater, which has high levels of silica, algae, and minerals
“We recommend that you remove any jewelry (rings, necklaces, bracelets, etc.) before entering the lagoon.”
However, unlike some naturally occurring hot pools the Blue Lagoon is self-cleaning with nine million litres renewed by the aquifers every 40 hours.
The pool is checked regularly by the spa for “foreign bacteria” and waterborne diseases, which are a risk in other geothermal pools including in New Zealand.
The Blue Lagoon says it is perfectly safe to submerge your head in the Blue Lagoon, although your hair may not thank you afterwards.