There’s always time for ‘me time’, with these few ingredients you have the recipe for the perfect self-indulgent bath.
If you asked us to rank activities based on cosiness, dipping into a warm bath would be pretty high on the list. On average, Brits have more showers than baths – but that doesn’t mean we aren’t aware of the powers of a good soak.
Research from Mintel shows that 73% of people see bathing as a way to relieve stress, which explains why so many of us indulge in it during hotel stays (#hotelbathroom has 11.6k posts on Instagram). It’s one of the few places where we’re guaranteed alone time, safe and enveloped in warm bubbles – bonus points if you don’t take any kind of screen in there with you. Here’s how to get the most out of your tub time.
Karen Davis, chemist at Westlab Salts, advises 37-39°C as the optimum temperature (choose how hot is too hot by dipping your wrist in). “This is the sweet spot for muscle relaxation, but also prevents losing too much water through sweating, which can cause dizziness and dehydration,” she says. The room temperature is also key: 25-30°C means you won’t stress your body by exiting the bath into a cold room.
“The combination of heat and steam opens up the pores all over our bodies,” explains Paul Kempisty L.Ac, acupuncturist to Gwyneth Paltrow and co-creator of Goop’s Bath Soaks. “This helps release pent-up toxins like heavy metals from the body, while allowing therapeutic ingredients like magnesium sulphate (found in Epsom salt) to be absorbed.”
The bath oil
Most formulas, DIY or not, are made up of two types of oil: carrier and essential. Think of carrier oils as the skin-loving base, such as nourishing coconut, almond or olive oil, while essential oils are highly concentrated versions, used in smaller quantities. “Essential oils should be diluted in a carrier in a 3-5% solution or skin irritation can occur,” says aromatherapist Nicola Elliott, founder of Neom. Add 20-24 drops of your essential oils to 30ml of carrier oil, then pour directly into the tap stream to disperse it into tiny droplets.*
Swap that plastic loofah fora natural sea sponge – the environment (and your skin) will thank you for it. John Lewis & Partners’ Natural & Charcoal Konjac Sponges, £12 for two, are made from biodegradable root vegetable fibres and gently exfoliate the skin. Use the charcoal one on oilier areas like the back, sweeping towards your heart to boost circulation, and replace every eight to ten baths.
No need to carve out an hour – soaking for 15-20 minutes is perfect. “Staying in too long can dry out skin and put a strain on the circulatory system,” warns wellness author Suzanne Duckett in her book Bathe.
Find a candle that multitasks. Neom’s Real Luxury Intensive Skin Treatment Candle, £36 , transforms into a therapeutic oil after burning for 30 minutes. Inhale the divine lavender, jasmine and Brazilian rosewood scent, then massage the oil into your skin post-bath for a moisture boost.
If you’re worried about dropping your book in the bath, opt for listening to an audiobook, podcast or playlist. According to psychologist Dr David Lewis- Hodgson, who specialises in stress, relaxing songs have narrow note sequences that go from high to low, are around 90 beats per minute, and have a 4/4 beat. Check out Dr Lewis-Hodgson’s Most Relaxing Songs Ever playlist on Spotify. And yes, Coldplay is on there.
Forget the urban legend that showers are more eco-friendly; the average bath uses 80 litres of water, while an eight-minute power shower uses 136 litres. So turn on those taps full-blast and relax guilt-free.
Judge a towel’s weight compared with surface area before buying: look for grams per square metre, or gsm, on the label. The higher the number, the heavier the towel – and the plusher the bath ritual. Egyptian and Supima cottons have long fibres and are more absorbent than cheaper synthetic fabrics. Stylist loves The White Company’s Luxury Egyptian Cotton Bath Sheet, £32.
As your body temperature drops, it slows your heart, breathing and digestion, sending a signal to your circadian rhythm that it’s time to settle down for sleep. “Always finish your bathing ritual slowly and with great care to prolong the cosy feeling,” says Duckett. Wrap up in a dressing gown and retreat to a cosy space to recover – and try to keep it tech-free for as long as possible.
Main image: Getty