Sylvia Plath was not a scientist.
But surprisingly, she wasn’t wrong when she said…
“I’m sure there are things that can’t be cured by a good bath, but I can’t think of one.”
Bubble baths have gotten a lot of media attention in the last few years as the self-care movement picked up speed. We’ve talked before about the difference between self-care and self-soothing, and although they are both perfectly valid and necessary…
Bubble baths often fall into the category of self-soothe rather than self-care.
Now, that depends on what you’re trying to care for. Because the bubble baths of 2020 are not your grandmother’s bubble baths. Soaking in hot water alone can have tremendous benefits…
So what do you think happens when you add oils, teas, and salts?
You can design a bubble bath for yourself personally to help you with all kinds of things. But maybe not the way that you think…
For example, here are some common bath blunders to avoid:
- Using brightly colored, scented, or glitter bath bombs. They seem fun and whimsical, but there are chemicals in dyes and scents, and glitter is terrible for your skin. Synthetic fragrances contain endocrine disruptors, like phthalates.
- Commercial bath salts can lead to changes in vaginal pH levels.
- Your average bubble bath solution contains chemicals like formaldehyde, which are not only unnatural, but can cause skin dryness and irritation.
Taken mindfully, bubble baths can be luxurious, healing, and healthy. Let’s talk about how you can design a soak that actually qualifies as “self-care.”
If You Want a Scent, Use Essential Oils
Here’s why the chemicals in your bath matter so much: soaking in hot water opens the pores in your skin and allows anything in your bath water into your body. The skin is supposed to act as protection from outside contaminants — so your bath time is the time when you want to be the most vigilant about your exposure to chemicals.
Buy plain bath bombs and bubble bath mixes, not scented. Then add essential oils to them.
But be careful. Some essential oils will irritate your skin, especially if you simply add drops of the oil to the bath water. Remember, oil and water don’t mix. So if you simply add oils to the water, the oil will adhere to your skin.
Instead, mix the essential oils in with the unscented epsom salts, or combine them with a carrier oil (like jojoba or coconut). The oil will adhere to the salt or carrier oil instead and dissolve safely into the hot water.
And when choosing your oils, avoid:
- And wintergreen.
Instead, think chamomile, lavender, lemongrass, rose oils. Soft. Floral. Gentle. Moisturizing. A hot bath is the perfect time to moisturize, since you’re getting rid of dead skin cells anyway
Start with a High Temperature and Gradually Lower It
The hot water discussion gets heated among experts pretty quickly. Some insist that the hot water is fantastic for relieving muscle tension. Others warn that submerging your body in scalding water can lead to heat stress, which can be dangerous for those with heart conditions.
Make sure you’re always keeping part of your body exposed to the air. Your head and face, your feet, your arms — it doesn’t matter. You can alternate too! Start as hot as you’d like, but let the bath cool naturally.
Because the benefits of bathing in hot water are no joke. Heat increases blood flow and circulation, which helps to soothe sore muscles. Especially when combined with epsom salts, which have antiinflammatory properties and can restore overworked muscles to a state of relaxation.
Plus, the hotter the bath, the more you’ll sweat, which is your body’s way of letting go of toxins (and can even burn calories — as much as taking a walk would!)
Try Bath Teas for a Restful Sleep
Baths themselves are known to induce deeper sleeps and a smoother transition to bed time.
The body needs a signal to produce melatonin — whether that’s the light outside growing dimmer and softer, or the body’s temperature dropping. Soaking in a hot tub dramatically raises your body temperature…
And getting out of the tub and stepping into the air dramatically lowers your body temperature, tricking your body into getting sleepy.
Now, the benefits of herbal teas are no secret: they can be anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic, immune-enhancing, calming, cooling, and more. Absorbing their properties through the body’s largest organ can only help!
Try filling a muslin bag with chamomile, valerian, chrysanthemum, or any other soothing herbal tea. Hang the muslin bag over the faucet and soak in a giant cup of tea!
You don’t have to buy into the commercialization of the bubble bath craze.
In fact, you’ll find yourself benefiting a lot more from the inherent positives of a decent, luxurious, moisturizing, pore-and-sinus-clearing steaming soak…
Just by uncomplicating the process.