It’s the last day of the year, treat yourself to a bath. Taking a bath is one of the most luxurious and relaxing things you can do for yourself. And yet most of us haven’t taken a bath for years, despite showering ourselves in a bathtub every single day. Hopefully this changes today.
First, let’s get one thing straight: a bath isn’t an alternative to a shower. For children, yes, it’s the easiest way to get ‘em clean until they’re tall and mature enough to navigate the shower. But as adults, nothing replaces the shower on the cleansing front. Instead, a bath is a remedial, relaxing thing—and filling it can instantly transform your bathroom into a makeshift spa.
Read on to learn how to have the best bath ever, and then carve out an extra 30-45 minutes this evening to clear your mind, soothe your stresses, and smooth your skin.
1. Wash up in the shower first
The point of your bath isn’t to get clean; do you really want to sit in your own filthy water? Instead, think of a bath as a therapeutic, mind-clearing event. The last thing you want to worry about is washing your butt, cleansing your face, or shampooing, much less festering in the water with all of those skin-drying cleansers. So, take a full-on shower before you hop in the bath. Yeah, it adds a few extra minutes to the process, but it’ll ensure that you slip into the tub with the cleanest body, free of any hair products, sweat, poo particles, etc.
2. Light a candle or five
Set the mood by lowering the lights and lighting a candle. If you prefer a scented one, then choose a fragrance that complements the clarity you seek. (May we recommend Boy Smells Iris Fantome?) You can light a few unscented ones—even those little votive candles work well for this—without overcomplicating the aroma. Scent-averse folks can skip the bougie candle, of course.
3. Add bath salts
Bath salts will help soothe sore muscles and calm any skin conditions, from irritation to psoriasis to athlete’s foot. (We love Amayori Hinoki Onsen Shimizu Bath Salts.) Sprinkle them into the bath as the water runs so they dissolve fully before you climb in.
Or, you can start the bath with post-shower scrubdown, using a salt-powered scrub (like Herbivore’s magnesium salt scrub), as you rinse yourself into the bathwater. (At the risk of countering Tip 1: you’re already clean, and unless you’re covered in patches of rough skin, this scrubdown merely lifts away the outermost layer of cells. You won’t be rinsing much more than the salts into the bath, promise.) Anyway, this exfoliation process plays into our next tip.
4. Buff your body
One of the most satisfying parts of a bath is exfoliating your entire body, and enjoying the tingly-fresh feeling of having smooth, nourished skin. Whether you prefer to exfoliate in the shower after cleansing, or with a salt-based scrub from the previous tip (directly into the running water), make sure you are polished before you sink in.
Oh, and in the event that you typically use chemical exfoliators for your body, we ask that you swap in a physical scrub for this step; it feels way better by the end of the bath. (One great non-salt scrub you can use in the shower is Brooklyn Botany Brown Sugar Scrub; turn off the water, scrub yourself shoulders down, and rinse away.)
5. Savor it
Enjoy the warm water, the salts, the calm, for 10-15 minutes—however long you like. However, this isn’t the endgame yet.
6. Open the drain, and run warm water
Now you’ll replenish the warm water. Drain a third or half of it, then top it off with more warm water once the drain is closed. As this water runs, fill the tub with a nourishing body oil. This oil will coat the smooth skin with nourishing ingredients, helping to soften and strengthen it. You might even feel the first tingling for the evening. (Fur Bath Drops give you a great portion of nourishing, skin-softening oil.)
7. Savor the soak again, while doing a cleansing mask and hair mask
As you enjoy this second and final lap of warm water, you’ll apply a deep-cleansing pore mask, and massage a fortifying hair-and-scalp mask up top. (Then comb it through the hairs to evenly distribute the product; also, don’t wet your hair with water from the tub, since it has oil in there, which will coat the hairs and prevent product absorption. So, use water from the bath tap if your hair isn’t already damp.)
Each brand will have different recommendations for the duration of wear, but try to find products that require 10-15 minutes. Let the detox mask dry and tighten, while the mask pumps nutrients into the scalp, hair follicles, and cuticles of each hair strand. (May we suggest Youth to the People’s purifying face mask and Function of Beauty’s custom hair mask?)
8. Drain the tub, and rinse off your hair and face
After another 10-15 minutes of calm (while the masks work their magic), you’re ready to wrap things up. Pull the drain, rinse your hair and face under the bath tap, and towel off. You may need to later wipe down the bath walls with a paper towel if there are still oil remnants in there, following the draining.
9. Apply body lotion and face serum + moisturizer
Now, get a body lotion with refreshing ingredients, like peppermint oil (we love Dr. Bonner’s peppermint body lotion for this) or stock up on standalone peppermint oil and place a couple drops into a nickel-size of standard body lotion. Massage this into your freshly exfoliated skin—especially around the ankles and feet—and you’ll feel that incredible, empowering tingle. (You may need a pair of fresh socks to wear over your lathered-up feet.)
Apply your evening skincare regimen, ideally with a deep-absorbing and corrective serum, now that you’ve detoxed the canvas. (Try a custom serum from Atolla.) Layer a dense moisturizer over top, to lock in moisture nutrients. (Cardon’s Hydro-Boost Gel Moisturizer is clutch for bedtime.)
Best bath ever? Let us know on social media @ultra.nyc.
Photo via Getty Images