We recently gave a friend who was having a tough time a bottle of the utterly amazing Aromatherapy Associates Inner Strength Bath & Shower Oil – only to be met with a slightly confused glance as the person declared: ‘Gosh, well, I can’t remember the last time I had a bath…’ Resisting the urge to wrest this sensational aromatherapeutic treat from their hands, we took a deep breath, smiled and said: ‘Well, maybe this is time to rediscover the pleasures of bathing…’
Yes, showering does the job – and it’s certainly possible to apply that brilliant product before jumping under a raging torrent, and enjoy the spirit-soothing powers of its oils of clary sage, frankincense and cardamom. But truly, soaking in scented waters and feeling every atom of stress melt away is one of the things that keeps us sane. Or whatever passes for sane, in this crazy, speeded-up, how-did-it-get-to-be-June-already? world.
Beyond that, ever since another friend introduced us to the concept of ‘The Magic Bath’, we’ve embraced this rather wonderful idea of mixing and matching bath products to create an entirely customised bathing experience. The bathroom is one place where we can close the door on the world, switch off – and almost literally float away.
Product-wise, the key is to mix and match carefully. You wouldn’t blend a relaxing bath foam with a reviving bath oil – because they’d cancel each other out. But here are some of our favourite combos…
To dispatch you to the land of Nod… Into This Works Deep Sleep Bath Oil add a whacking great scoopful (or three) of Better You Magnesium Oil Original Flakes. It’s always a toss-up for us between Deep Sleep and Aromatherapy Associates Deep Relax Bath & Shower Oil – and you’ll find both on our bathroom shelves. But to turbo-charge the relaxing power of either of these two products – both of which blend chamomile, vetiver and lavender (in different doses) – we add the magnesium salts, which we find incredible for relaxation and for inducing an undisturbed night’s sleep. (One of the best presents Jo ever received was an industrial-scale delivery of BetterYou Magnesium salts – no kidding!) To soften the water (and your skin) further, and to ramp up the relaxation factor even more, you could add a few scoops of Soapsmith Lavender Hill Bath Soak; from a fab London-based range, it fuses lavender and jasmine in a silkifying blend of coconut milk powder, Dead Sea salts, Epsom salts, cocoa butter and oat powder. Follow with generous smoothings of This Works Deep Sleep Night Oil, which (again) does what it says on the tin. (Or rather, the chic white bottle.)
For soothing muscles after gardening (or in Sarah’s case, riding)… Aromatherapy Associates De-Stress Muscle Bath & Shower Oil with Life-Flo Magnesium Body Wash used on a big natural sponge from top to toe. If you’re noticing a repeated Aromatherapy Associates theme, here, this is because they make what to our mind are the greatest bath oils on the planet – and basically, our Beauty Bible testers have always agreed. This particular combo is fantastic for soothing aching muscles – and we recommend that you follow with the fab, rich Better You Magnesium Body Butter. This almost imperceptibly scented, and alongside the shea butter, cocoa butter, coconut oil and vitamin E, it has lashings of magnesium, too.
When the coffee didn’t kick in and you need a wake-up bath…
Reach for In Good Spirits Energising Bathing & Massage Oil, which blends a zingy selection of essential oils including bergamot, lemon, mandarin, ginger, peppermint and grapefruit. (Do be sure to regulate the temperature of your bath, as per below, to get the desired mood-shifting effect.) It transforms on contact with water to become deliciously milky; continue the wake-up action with the Temple Spa Sugar Buff Mediterranean Body Scrub (the buffing action will rev up circulation and help you feel less sluggish). Follow by swooping from top to toe with Dr.Hauschka Lemongrass Vitalising Body Milk, which contains an energizing blend of essential oils.
To be honest, though, we often simply follow our noses when it comes to mixing a Magic Bath. This mirrors what often happens before a spa treatment, in which you may be invited to sniff a choice of essential oil blends to determine which one you ‘need’ at that moment. (The thinking being that you will ‘like’ the one that’s best for you right then.) If your bathroom shelf is a bit cluttered with products, don’t be shy about having a sniff and throwing in a bit of this and a bit of that, and using up some products.
The temperature makes a big difference to whether a bath will soothe or revive you, meanwhile. Our advice is to invest in a bath thermometer; They’re designed for mothers to test babies’ bathwater temperature, but they can be used for ‘bath therapy’ purposes. Optimum temperature for a relaxing last-thing-at-night bath is F99° (C37°) A warmer (but not hot) bathing temperature helps promote healthy sleep. The best temperature for a reviving bath is F97° (C36°). Taking a bath in the morning can zap tiredness, if it’s not too hot, and makes for a refreshing (but not chilly) start.
To make the experience even more pleasurable, why not just add music? For soothing, try Mozart Piano Concerto No. 1, Albinoni’s Adagio – or some rocking jazz (or an Elton John compilation!) if you want to be revved right up. (Thank heavens for rechargeable Bluetooth speakers, we say – though do keep your phone well away from the side of the bath. Drying out an iPhone is very far from relaxing.) A scented candle enhances the experience, too – and lower the lights, if it’s evening.
Be sure to banish everyone. If you’ve dogs, walk them beforehand so they’re not pawing at the locked door. If you’ve kids and/or a partner, wait till they’re in bed (or flopped in front of a favourite box set). But find 15 minutes for a Magic Bath, and we promise: you’ll simply ask yourself why you don’t do this more often.