One of the key observations that I have made throughout my time as a beauty editor is that there are really only two different types of people: those who shower and those who bathe. Those who shower find it easy to wake up an hour earlier than necessary before work to refresh their body (and their senses) with a zingy shower gel before they start the day full-steam ahead. Those who bathe, on the other hand, might instead opt for a long, indulgent soak as a means to unwind at the end of the day. I fall into the latter category.
I struggle with the fact that I’m not a shower person, and I think this is down to the fact that people can be quite protective over their washing method. Because that’s the truly bizarre thing about these two types of people: They absolutely can’t understand how on Earth anyone could ever possibly want to have it the other way. Therefore, whenever I tell someone that I am, in fact, a bath person, I’m often met with a bunch of reasons as to why bathing is much worse than showering. It’s more wasteful, you’re sitting in your own dirt, it can irritate skin, it’s way too time-consuming, etc.
But the truth is, after years of trying to be a shower person, the last year or so has seen me fully embrace bathing. In fact, it’s safe to say that if I swap out my nightly bath for a shower, it throws my rhythm and I struggle to sleep. Now, my nightly bath has become as much a part of my beauty regimen as cleansing my face or applying SPF.
Really, a bath to me is so much more than a way to get clean. It’s become a sort of mediation—a timeout if, you will. As time has gone on, I’ve adopted different rituals for different needs because if there’s one thing I’ve learned about baths, it’s that there’s a soak for everything. In fact, now I believe there is very little that can’t be solved with a well-curated bathing routine. If I’m feeling down in the dumps, I’ll reach for a super-nourishing soak and feel comforted, or if I’m desperate for a good night’s sleep, I’ll be sure to add in my most sleep-inducing salts.
So if you consider yourself a shower person but you struggle to switch off come evening, I urge you to give a curated bath a go. But if you’re still not convinced, don’t take my word for it. Keep scrolling for all there is to know about the benefits of bathing, including the best soaks out there.
The Benefits of a Bath
Besides the fact it’s a very relaxing way to clean yourself and warm water often helps soothe aching muscles, the benefits of a bath stretch way beyond the physical. Acupuncturist, aromatherapist and healing holistic facialist Annee de Mamiel explains: “Your skin releases endorphins in response to the soothing warm water in the same way that endorphins are released when you feel the sun on your skin.” And the positive power of endorphins is something that can’t be ignored.
In fact, a recent study by a German university found that a 30-minute soak in a bath 40ºC or higher every afternoon or evening can dramatically improve mental well-being. “Interestingly in this study, those who bathed daily scored three points better on the depression scale than those who had been asked to do 45 minutes of aerobic exercise a week,” explains Annee.
Choosing the Right Soak
When it comes to selecting a bath soak, choosing the right one for your mood is actually a lot more impactful than you might think. Thanks to the powerful sway of aromatherapy, the bath soak that you choose is of vital importance. Annee says: “Aromatherapy oils are able to affect the way we feel because they affect the limbic system—easing stress, anxiety or invigorating. Each oil has its own chemistry which is able to impact us in a different way—fragonia for circadian rhythm, green scents for cortisol, vetiver to ground.”
It turns out it’s not just the smell that makes a difference. The actual ingredients can also have an impact on the way that we feel. “What you put in the bath can be as therapeutic as the actual bath itself. Different salts have varying minerals which can rebalance the body as well as aiding things like inflammation, muscle soreness and softening skin,” says Annee.
Shop the Best Bath Soaks
The power of a great bubble bath should never be underestimated, and that’s the very thing I love the most about these bath cubes. They combined nourishing oils with bicarbonate of soda to also form bubbles.
For the most luxurious bath experience, look no further. The Honey Bath soaks from Laura Mercier are regarded as the best-smelling bath products out there. Just drizzle into running water and relax as the most delicious smell fills the room. They’re almost good enough to eat.
Bath oils can be a real love/hate product. Sure, they smell amazing, but they often leave a messy film over the tub that requires a deep clean after every bath. The wonderful thing about the Jo Malone bath oils is that they create bubbles, fill the room with the most amazing smell (this one is pretty and floral) and leave the bath itself sans oily film.
Did you know that Cleopatra swore by the nourishing properties of a milk- and honey-infused bath? This powder uses milk from Egypt and a blend of oil extracts to soothe stressed skin and leave it feeling impossibly smooth.
To give your skin a real treat, this whey protein bath soak is ideal. Where whey protein helps support the skin barrier, lime blossom and chamomile extracts calm any skin irritation and also boost elasticity.
Aching muscles? This bath milk is here to sort you out. It uses a blend of spearmint, cypress, lavender and chamomile oils to create the most soothing of scents, while Epsom salts get to work on tight, worn-out muscles. This is my go-to post-workout beauty product.
Suffer from dry, itchy skin? Often warm baths can be deemed bad news for those with sensitive skin conditions, as hot water can disrupt the skin’s barrier. That’s why this stuff is so handy. Using colloidal oats and a special hydration complex, this milky oil will soothe irritated skin and leave it soft and supple.
Known for its muscle-relieving properties, magnesium is one of the best remedies for aching muscles. A couple of scoops of these salts in a pre-bedtime bath put your whole body into a state of relaxation.
These are a personal favourite. Why spend big bucks on a bath soak when you could just buy these? Just like other, much more expensive salts, they also contain a blend of lavender and ylang-ylang essential oils for the most sleep-inducing scent out there. It's not quite as pungent as some others but definitely still effective, so I don’t think you can go wrong.
If you struggle to sleep, you might be familiar with the knock-you-out relaxing This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray, and I can vouch for the fact that the rest of the Deep Sleep range is equally as fantastic. These bath salts use the same chamomile, lavender and vetivert scent to induce such a wonderful state of calmness that you’ll struggle to stay away.
I save this little bottle of magic for times of serious need. If you’ve had one hell of a day and sense that you’ll struggle to relax before bed, just one small capful of this oil under warm water will have you instantly relaxed ready for some shut-eye. I can’t sing its praises enough.
This tub of salts does it all. Not only will the relaxing lavender and jasmine scents help you drift off to sleep, but the salts also contain a whopping 84 different minerals including magnesium and zinc to help reduce tension, aches and discomfort.
If you can’t imagine a relaxing bath without bubbles, this lavender foaming bath soak should help fill the void. Whereas many sleep-inducing bath soaks rely on non-foaming oils and salts, this liquid will leave your bath full of bubbles and your mind totally settled.
After a day of nonstop stress, there is no better smell than these soaking salts. Personally, it’s the inclusion of clary sage and lavender blend that does it for me. I’m so obsessed that I carry the Stress-Fix rollerball with me wherever I go. And while my on-the-go fix is enough to get me through the day, it’s the bath salts that calm me down after a long, hard day.
If you somewhat miss the excitement of using bath bombs but hate the sickly sweet smells and colours that they leave behind, these Chill Pills are the most adult alternative I can find. They fizz and foam like a bath bomb, but they smell divine. They’re calming but still zingy and refreshing—I’m obsessed.
Whereas a lot of detox-based bath salts aim to detox the skin, these aim to detox the mind. Using pharmaceutical-grade Epsom salts to soothe muscles and valerian root and passion flower to calm the senses, this little packet of bath salts is fast becoming a personal favourite. Plus, they leave your bathroom smelling like a spa.
Unlike other more lavender-based soaks that aim to calm, these pink Himalayan salts actually champion floral scents such as ylang-ylang to help to calm and refocus while the subtle scent of vanilla helps to diminish any angst.