It’s no secret that the Dead Sea has been a destination for adventure and health enthusiasts for generations—dating back to before the times of Cleopatra (legend says she made special trips just for the mud). But just when did it turn into the most important spot for beauty lovers in the Middle East and beyond? Around the time the founders of AHAVA started sending water, salt, and mud samples back to their burgeoning labs in the 1980s for close scrutiny.

“The AHAVA brand was founded over 27 years ago, by three kibbutzim living and working on the banks of the Dead Sea, a geological wonder at the lowest point on Earth,” shares Barak Orenstein, Global Brand Director at AHAVA Headquarters in Israel. “The Company founders noticed that people collected mud and water in small containers to take back home with them to further enjoy their wonders. In 1988 the group established the mineral skin care brand AHAVA (or ‘love’ in Hebrew), driven by their love of the region and with a deep passion to unearth its mysteries: an oasis in the middle of the wilderness; a unique sea and muddy shoreline that holds the Earth’s greatest concentration of skin-moisturizing minerals.”

While lots of brands may list Dead Sea ingredients as important in their products, AHAVA actually boasts offices and labs right on the Israeli shores of the Dead Sea itself— an important economic and cultural message to the world of beauty lovers far beyond the Middle East. The brand is now easily available in 30 countries worldwide, bringing a little positive Israeli and Jewish association every time someone uses their hand creams, face serum, or loads themselves up with the original mud products.

“Research conducted at the end of 2015, through Ipsos, an independent Market Research Agency, revealed that 72% of Israelis consider AHAVA to be the most iconic Israeli brand recognized around the world.” That’s impressive, because Bamba, the iconic snack food produced by Osem comes in at just 11% by the same research. AHAVA is making huge strides to represent Israeli culture as a positive, aspirational thing that can easily be enjoyed and loved by people around the world. That brand recognition has been hugely positive for the tourism revenues of Israel as well with more and more visitors from around the globe making the shores of the Dead Sea a vacation and wellness destination thanks in part to the AHAVA labs and brand messaging.

ahava dead sea

There are also 14 concept stores open in far-reaching places including Singapore, Budapest, and Korea selling the black gold of Israel— Dead Sea mud. The mud is taken from the unique basin that sits at the Earth’s lowest point, 423 meters below sea level, and boasts waters with the highest mineral concentrations known to humankind. The water itself weighs in at 32% pure mineral content— can you even imagine that? The rich mineral content has a near-oily texture to the touch that leaves skin hydrated despite the arid desert sun, and helps detoxify, soothe, and repair other skin and joint stresses.

The heritage line is committed to spreading their name’s meaning, love, around the world by way of offering a newly expanded good-for-everyone line— many of which are kosher certified (you never know when you’ll swallow some lip balm by mistake), vegan-friendly, and good for a variety of skin types. Continuing to expand the Asian markets is high on their to-do list as well, noting that Chinese and Russian tourists are among the most frequent visitors to make the AHAVA Dead Sea labs along the Israeli shores a destination for health and wellness tourism.

“When tourists come to Israel, purchasing AHAVA skincare products truly feels like they are using or giving a piece of Israel,” Orenstein explains emphatically. “The product is made from ingredients of the land, with Israeli know-how, and expertise. It’s an authentic piece of the best Israel has to offer. AHAVA is proud to also be a symbol of Israel– the Holy Land itself.”

For more beauty, wellness, and health writing, feel free to join me on Facebook as @BryceGruber.

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