When Sylvia Plath wrote: “I am sure there are things that can’t be cured by a good bath, but I can’t think of one” in The Bell Jar, she was definitely on to something. After all, climbing into a warm bath can be a remedy for both body and mind – but is it really worth the extra time and effort, when you could jump in the shower and be fresh in a few minutes?
Well, get ready to climb back into the tub, as the experts are in agreement that it has huge benefits. ‘I heartily recommend bathing,’ says Suzi Grant, author of the book 48 Hours To A Healthier Life. ‘It can prevent colds and viruses, reduce stress, improve sleep, strengthen blood circulation, boost the immune system and detoxify the body.’
Scientific evidence backs the tub, too, with Neil Morris, a psychologist at the University of Wolverhampton in the UK, recently conducting a study on the effects of enjoying a soak in the bath. ‘I found that bathing improved general psychological wellness radically. There was a significant drop in feelings of pessimism about the future and increases in hedonic tone, the internal feeling of [pleasure].
“Baths give you the chance to stop the day for a few minutes, in a way that showers can’t. There is a wonderful combination of isolation, quiet and comfort.”
It should come as little surprise, as bathing has been enjoyed for thousands of years. In fact, legend has it that Cleopatra bathed in milk back in the year 30 BC (probably choosing milk as water in the Nile was contaminated at that time). As the years ticked on, Romans followed her lead with bathing becoming an increasingly popular pastime. Bath houses popped up all over Europe over the sites of hot springs, offering hot soaks as a social activity. It was about more than just getting clean; it became a relaxing therapy. People enjoyed the water so much that they came in groups of friends to chat and even conduct business deals.
Fast forward to the year 2016 and whilst most people have a bath tub, very few would give it priority over the shower — especially here, where we live in a warm climate. But with increasingly luxe brands dedicating their product ranges to the humble tub, is it time to fall back in love with a hot soak?
We’ve picked the products that may convince you to give it a go – from aromatherapy blends to relax your mind and muscle soaks to ease tired limbs after exercise, to softening soaks to pamper your skin. Get ready to fall back in love with the tub.
Aromatherapy is defined as “a complementary therapy that uses plant extracts and aromatic plant oils, including essential oils and other aroma compounds for the purpose of altering one’s mood, cognitive, psychological or physical well-being” — and it works perfectly for those long soaks in the bath.
Why? Because not only does the fact you are sinking back into the water and relaxing mean that you inhale more of the aroma, but the scent is likely to lace your skin when you climb out too. Your mood is potentially altered for longer, making you feel relaxed and revived as you go about your day — or when you climb under the duvet, aiding a much better night’s sleep.
Aromatherapy Associates is the go-to brand for beautiful aromatherapy blends for the bath – and its Deep Relax Bath & Shower Oil (Dh334, Basharacare.com) is the perfect choice for tired bodies and frazzled minds. Ideal for use before bedtime, the blend of vetiver, chamomile and sandalwood promises to send you into a deep and tranquil sleep. A little goes a long way, too — just a few drops and the whole bathroom is filled with a luxurious, spa-like aroma.
Bathing in the morning before a day at work? The brand’s Inner Strength Bath & Shower Oil (Dh334, Basharacare.com) is a better choice, combining clary sage, frankincense, and cardamom to help promote positive thoughts and inner strength. It could be just the thing to give you the confidence to stride into that board meeting a few hours later.
Been for a workout? A shower may be a quicker and more refreshing choice after stepping off the treadmill – but a warm bath would do wonders for those tired muscles. In fact, a plethora of products are dedicated to soothing those weary limbs – and as an added bonus, they will leave your skin laced with a beautiful fragrance.
Elemis Aching Muscle Super Soak (Dh285, Elemis.ae) combines muscle-relaxing essential oils of birch, juniper, clover, alpine lavender, wild thyme, and blue chamomile to soothe as you soak. Simply pour under a running tap and climb into the water — and the next day, your muscles will thank you for it.
Or opt for bath salts instead, such as The Organic Pharmacy Arnica Soothing Muscle Soak (Dh270, thebeautyfloor.com). With sea salt, arnica, ginger, and eucalyptus. Just two scoops are enough to create a bath that warms and soothes tired muscles. The scent is fantastic, too — and with both ginger and eucalyptus, it’s the perfect thing if you are feeling slightly under the weather.
Forget expensive body scrubs in five-star spas and instead, turn your bath tub into your own personal spa treatment. Body scrubs can be hugely luxurious these days, with a blend of exotic oils to leave skin silky soft when the scrub itself has sloughed away those dead skin cells. The result? Sweet smelling skin that feels soft as silk – and you didn’t even need to leave your home.
It doesn’t get much richer than L’Occitane Shea Butter Ultra Rich Body Scrub (Dh159, Loccitane.com), which contains an impressive 10 per cent shea butter, along with apricot oil and finely ground nutshells to polish and smooth your skin. It feels luxuriously thick and creamy – and the hydrating power of the shea butter negates the need for moisturiser afterwards, which makes it a time saver, too.
For an innovative take on body scrub, try Lush Buffy (Dh175, Lush.ae), a silky slab of essential oils, cocoa butter and shea butter, blended with ground almonds, rice, and aduki beans to scrub away dry, rough skin. It’s a gentle, but very effective, scrub, which is activated by warm water to leave skin feeling impressively soft and looking beautifully dewy when you climb out the tub.
What to do when you sink back in the tub? Daydreaming is a good option – but while you do it, why not smooth a mask over your skin and let it get to work while you relax? It doesn’t need to be limited to your face either, as plenty of beauty brands offer equally luxurious options for our hair, eyes and body, too.
Starting with your complexion, it doesn’t get much better than SkinFood Black Sesame Seed Hot Mask (Dh45, Glamazle.com). Designed to heat up when applied to wet skin, it promises to draw out impurities as you lie back and relax in the tub. Better still, with the addition of granulated sugar and salt in the formula, it sloughs away rough, dry skin as you remove it.
As you lie back in the water, try applying the effective SK-II Signs Eye Masks (Dh350 for 14 at Paris Gallery) under your eyes. Perfect for morning baths, the individually packaged patches promise to improve dullness and hydration under eyes. Ten to 15 minutes is the perfect amount of time to apply them, giving you the ideal excuse to relax and let them work their magic.
For body, Clayspray White Clay Masque (Dh235, Basharacare.com), promises to stimulate blood circulation, relax the mind, and soften the body. Simply smooth it over your skin, get soaking in the water, and wash it off when you climb out.
Finally, for hair, the brand Joelle Paris is a great choice. Its nourishing Liss Keratin Mask (Dh170, Wojooh.com) works on each individual strand by nourishing and sealing ends. You just sit back and let it do the hard work – and when removed, you can expect straighter, healthier, and shinier locks.
Want to try something different in the tub?
These products will turn your soak into an innovative spa treatment.
Lush, You’ve Been Mangoed Bath Oil (Dh25, Lush.ae). With a blend of nutrient-rich mango oil and avocado oil, this product is a wise choice if you suffer from dry skin.
The Health Booster
The Eco Bath, Epsom Salt Bath Soak (Dh65, Holland & Barrett). As well as being super-soothing to aching muscles and joints, Epsom salts (scientifically known as hydrated magnesium sulfate) are thought to have powerful detoxing properties, plus additional benefits to the heart, insulin efficiency, nerve function, reduction of stress and inflammation, and improved use of oxygen.
The Cold Fighter
Kerstin Florian, Eucalyptus Bath (Dh202, Basharacare.com). Feeling under the weather? Extracts of eucalyptus and pine tree oil will help to clear your sinuses and fight inflammation.
The Cellulite Fighter
The Organic Pharmacy, Body Scrub (Dh395, The Organic Pharmacy).Cellulite-fighting ingredients including coffee, ginger, and chilli get to work on lumps and bumps as you massage this scrub over your skin in the bath. Sweet almond oil, sunflower oil, and vitamin E also work to soften skin.
Phytomer Oligomer Pure, Lyophilized Sea Water Bath (Dh555, Basharacare.com). Formulated with mineral-rich sea water, this detoxing bath soak will help your skin to feel softer and smoother, while making it more resilient to fight off damage and resist aging. Expensive, yes – but the brand promises you will see real benefits to your skin.
Black Pomegranate Candle, Dh55, Typo
Basil & Neroli – Home Candle, Dh300, Jo Malone
Orange and ginger-scented candle, Dh40, Marks & Spencer
Baies Candle, Dh230, Diptyque
Rose en Noir Candle, Dh150, Miller Harris at Net-A-Porter