What no one tells you about using magnesium oil

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Photo: StockSnap/Karla Alexander

If you’ve ever experienced the life-changing (okay, mood-boosting—but same difference) effects of a well-timed Epsom salt bath, you’re probably hooked…on magnesium.

After all, magnesium is an essential nutrient that’s depleted by stress, and it’s credited with everything from easing post-workout soreness to improving digestion and boosting sleep quality. But, most of us don’t get enough of it in our diet to begin with.

I experienced the power of magnesium for the first time a couple of winters ago: The February blues were in full effect and my muscles were always kinda sore. (From a workout? From shivering in the cold? Hard to tell.) On advice from a friend, I took a long soak in a hot bath that was spiked with Epsom salt I got from the drugstore. And afterward? I felt like I was walking around in a different body—my stiffness was gone, replaced with downright loose-limbed vitality—and the dark cloud blocking all the light from the serotonin-producing parts of my brain seemed to have dissipated. And that night, I got the best sleep I’d had in years.

Cut to: Me, standing in my apartment naked for 20 minutes (did I mention it was winter?), while salt-like crystals formed and slowly tightened my skin.

Since the Epsom salt bath had worked fantastically well for me, I hunted for another way to “supplement” via my skin, and spray-on magnesium oil was the answer I chose (thanks to a Well+Good article, of course). Because who has time to take a bath every day, really? And I was already living that coconut oil life, so I figured I’d just switch it up and swap out magnesium oil at night.

Cut to: Me, standing in my apartment naked for 20 minutes (did I mention it was winter?), while salt-like crystals formed and slowly tightened the parts of my skin I had spritzed.

Turns out, in terms of time commitment, I would’ve been better off with a nightly bath—because using magnesium oil involves several steps: applying the oil (with a spray bottle, so you’ll need to put some paper towels down on the bathroom floor), letting it soak in for 20 minutes, then taking a shower to rinse off the crusty mineral layer that the oil produces during that time. And after that, you’ll need to moisturize all over again.

It did work wonders, though. Every night I did the magnesium oil regimen, I slept hard—and a couple of times, I woke up before my alarm feeling rested. The next day, I walked the frigid streets of New York City feeling like my summer self underneath my giant puffy coat.

In the end, though, I went back to my first (magnesium) love: salt baths. No more oily, salty residue on the towels I used to protect my couch—or on my phone, or the remote. But on the road? I will pack a stash of magnesium oil in case there’s no bathtub. Because a little extra naked time (and yeah, some mild discomfort near the end of the process) is a small price to pay for a magnesium-boosted life.

Bonus: Magnesium can also be used to soothe IBS, migraines, and anxiety. And learn more about the cult-beloved magnesium product legions are turning to for their sleep woes.

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