Congrats! You’ve given yourself permission to settle into a warm, luxurious soak.
Looking for a little rest and relaxation away from the everyday hubbub? What better way than to soak all your cares away in a warm, luxurious bath, ideally with some soothing natural bath ingredients?
From mineral springs to hot baths, ancient Greek, Roman, Celtic, and Egyptian cultures all used water for healing purposes. Some scientists believe that using water as therapy is as old as humankind itself.
Contemporary scientists continue to test the (bath) water to discover its many soothing secrets. Though much of the research focuses on therapeutic treatments and not on our at-home soaks, here are some of the findings from recent research.
- Water therapy is thought to help ease the pain of fibromyalgia.
- Warm water bathing has been shown to improve cardiac function in patients with chronic heart failure.
- Bathing has been shown to help reduce labour pain in pregnant women.
- Footbaths may help stimulate the relaxation response and reduce stress.
Of course, some of these results come as no surprise—who doesn’t love a footbath?—but they do serve as a reminder that taking some time for ourselves can make a big difference in our emotional and physical well-being.
Tub time tips
- Bathe in warm, comfortable water. Hot water can dry out your skin.
- Soak no more than 20 minutes to avoid skin irritation.
- Pat—don’t rub—skin dry to lock in moisture.
- Apply a moisturizer after bathing while your skin’s still damp to protect it from dryness.
Trusty tub toolkit
Time to toss those expired bubble baths and grungy sponges. Instead, stock up on some eco-friendly and all-natural bath ingredients that can enhance your soothing soak.
If you had an oatmeal bath as a child to soothe chicken pox, you’ve experienced oatmeal’s well-documented ability to soothe itchy, inflamed skin. Pick up colloidal oatmeal (very finely ground oats not intended for eating) at a health food store or pharmacy, or make your own colloidal oatmeal by grinding plain, uncooked oats.
How to use: Add a handful to the bath, and soak for five to 10 minutes.
Naturally occurring compounds of the minerals magnesium and sulphate with myriad health and household uses, Epsom salts are readily found at natural health stores. Thought to help relieve tired, sore muscles and inflammation, an Epsom salt bath is a soothing way to end the day.
How to use: Add 2 cups (500 mL) to bathwater and soak for 10 minutes.
Green tea is well known for its antioxidant properties. But along with reaping the health benefits of this much-loved beverage, many people swear by adding green tea to their baths.
How to use: Add about six green tea bags to your bathwater, let them steep for 15 to 20 minutes, then remove.
Adding honey to bathwater results in a luxuriously fragrant, skin-softening soak. It’s more than just a lovely smell: honey helps skin retain moisture, and it also boasts antibacterial properties.
How to use: Pick up natural honey from your local health food store, and add 1/4 cup (60 mL) to your bathwater.
Bath oils help leave skin silky soft. Choose one with natural plant or nut oils. Examples include jojoba, almond, flax, sunflower, or coconut oil.
How to use: Follow directions on the bottle—typically adding a few drops to a warm bath.
Natural bath bombs, soaks, and salts
Prepackaged natural bath salts and soaks, and delightfully fizzy bath bombs, are plentiful at natural health retailers.
What to look for: Choose products with ingredients for your specific skin care needs and fragrance preferences, such as
- relaxing lavender oil or flowers
- energizing lemon, grapefruit, tangerine, or sweet orange essential oil
- calming camomile
- luxurious vanilla
- invigorating mint
- soothing oats
- purifying sea salt
- moisturizing almond oil
- wholesome milk
- nourishing vitamin E
How to use: Choose products without artificial colours, preservatives, or fragrances and follow the package instructions, since each product is slightly different.
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Therapeutic values when added to the bath
Many exfoliating products, like body scrubs, are designed for the shower, but you can also add exfoliation to your bathing ritual.
To help soften skin, exfoliate before bathing by using a natural bristle body brush, making long, sweeping strokes along your body toward the heart.
Choose a moisturizing body wash infused with natural nut or vegetable oils to help soften dry, winter skin.
After bathing, apply a natural, scented moisturizer immediately after patting your skin dry with a towel. Be sure to avoid products that contain parabens or phthalates.