The first shore stop on the Holland America cruise I'm currently aboard was Tauranga, New Zealand. It had a pretty amazing "beach" mentality where everyone walked barefoot in and around the city center, toting surfboards and those lazy day smiles. Not far inland, Rotorua (a popular resort village) is built atop an active geothermal site and is known for its geysers and bubbling pools of therapeutic mud.

I never made it over to Rotorua but the mud is ubiquitous in the country. You can find it in most souvenir shops, even duty free, in the range offered by Pure Source. I love the packaging: straight-up, no-nonsense pictures of.. well, mud, and that's about it.

The original natives, the Maori, used the mud to treat skin problems, and it was then noted by early Europeans that the thermal mud and thermal springs had prominent healing abilities. Now, you can find spa facilities all around the Rotorua area but the prices are surprisingly inexpensive. The mud is famous in these neck of the woods for drawing impurities and excess oils from the skin. Because it's acidic (3.8 ph) it will cleanse, then repair the naturally acidic skin's first layer. It's an excellent way of detoxification.

I'm a big fan of thermal mud (especially in exotic places I find myself in around the world) and I was also intrigued with the range of other ingredients added to the mask that I bought at a souvenir store. Other than natural emollients and humectants, there's aloe vera gel, seaweed extract, manuka honey and vitamin E, all things yummy. The great thing about this mask is that for something so dull and boring and black, it had a sweet scent to it. Must be the honey and the ever-so-slight and subtle aloe vera. I felt that it really dug into my pores and after fifteen minutes when it had completely dried on my face, I washed it off with that feeling my face had just received a quick fixer-upper. Not to mention an inexpensive one (I opted for the Pamper Pack, which includes individual packets of the Thermal Mud Facial Scrub, Facial Mask and Moisturizer is sold for $12.50 in the US.

Ingredients:

Pure New Zealand spring water, rotorua thermal mud; aloe vera gel; glycerine; butylene glycol; bentonite; titanium dioxide; seaweed extract; spirulina; sweet almond oil; bronopol; phenoxyethanol; kaolin; manuka honey; vitamin e; fragrance.