Seaweed soak spa opens in Newport

After her warm bath, Claudia Stubin said she was relaxed and her skin felt healthier. But seaweed, not bubbles, was responsible.

Stubin, a Huntington Beach resident, was a first-time customer Tuesday at Seaweed Sok, a Newport Beach bathing facility that helps promote healthy skin and overall well-being. The spa, which opened in August, is the first of its kind in the United States, owner Missy Finlay said.

She decided to start a seaweed soaking business after visiting Ireland, where these spas are common, she said.

She and her husband sold their Costa Mesa house earlier this year to fund the creation.

Seaweed soaks are detoxifying, promote healthy skin, are mood-altering and help with skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema, she said, noting that people of all ages and health conditions — other than pregnant women — can soak in the seaweed.

"If someone has a skin condition, they really want to get rid of it," Finlay said. "Seaweed can really control those conditions. This is an organic and natural way of handling skin disorders."

Each hourlong spa session includes the seaweed soak and an infrared sauna, which helps with arthritis and sore muscles.

Guests bathe in saltwater and seaweed that is imported in dehydrated form from Ireland.

Seaweed Sok also sells exclusive skin-care products from companies like the Seaweed Bath Co. and Voya. Finlay's store is the only physical location in North America that sells Voya.

"I've been trained for every high-end skin care out there," said Finlay, a licensed cosmetologist. "...I'm bringing something that's very high-end and unique to the neighborhood. I want to bring serenity too."

Finlay said that although seaweed soaking sounds unusual, Newport Beach has responded positively to it so far.

"I have several women from this neighborhood that are 'soakaholics,'" she said. "They're well-traveled and a lot of people who travel are familiar with seaweed soaking. Everyone that tries it does really love it, so I'm not really worried about it. It's more getting the word out there since it's little and so different."

Stubin said that she enjoyed her first experience at Seaweed Sok.

"It's just one of those things that feels really moisturizing," Stubin said. "I know that there are a lot of healing properties in seaweed, so I was interested in seeing how it feels to soak in it."

Sara Abraham, a Newport Beach resident and Seaweed Sok regular, said her skin has improved greatly since she began visiting the spa a month ago.

"Even my husband noticed that my skin was better, and he never notices anything like that," she said. "The best thing is that for one hour, nobody can reach me."

Seaweed Sok offers one-time soaks for one person for $65 or $85 for two people. Customers can also have a "soak party" for four to eight people for $195. One-month passes with unlimited visits are $125.

Finlay said that although Seaweed Sok, 504 W. Balboa Blvd., allows walk-ins, appointments are encouraged.

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