Ten minute (or less) showers are usually the daily norm for most of us, but soaking in the tub is a great way to unwind after a hectic, stressful day. Plus, if you get the right accoutrements you can turn your bath routine into an at-home spa experience.
“Self-care and decreasing stress levels is such an integral part of skin health,” says Papri Sarkar, M.D., dermatologist. “Most skin diseases like acne, eczema, psoriasis and many others flare with stress. If a spa treatment helps you de-stress, it’s well worth the time for your skin and your overall health.” Here some top beauty pros share 10 ways to turn your bath into a relaxing spa treatment — no leaving home or expensive trip to the spa required.
1. Clean Your Tub
Your first step to enjoying a relaxing bath-time spa treatment should be giving your bathtub a quick clean to get it in spotless condition. “I use a large grapefruit that’s cut in half and sprinkle it with a generous amount of kosher salt,” says Aleksandra Wasowska, who spearheads education for Borghese beauty products. “Not only does it do an amazing job at scrubbing away unwanted gunk and grime, but the light and sweet scent of grapefruit gives my bathroom extra freshness — which adds an aromatherapy boost.”
2. Set the Mood With Candles
“When walking into a spa, the first thing we notice is its relaxing atmosphere,” says Wasowka. “This can be easily re-created at home just by changing your bathroom lighting and adding soothing music.” Wasowka suggests lighting a few scented candles and shutting off your bathroom light. She uses five to eight candles, setting them all over her bathroom — on the floor, on top of her sink, etc. Celebrity aesthetician Joshua Ross of SkinLab in West Hollywood is a fan of relaxing scents like lavender, jasmine and rose. Try the soothing Nest Cedar Leaf & Lavender Classic Candle ($40) or Eric Buterbaugh Lavender Candle ($70).
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3. Play Relaxing Music
It wouldn’t be a spa experience without the right music. One 2011 study found that music can lower your body’s cortisol levels, leading to reduced stress and anxiety. Ross suggests selecting a Spotify piano playlist for background noise. “You want to listen to something without lyrics so you can get lost in the moment,” he says. Wasowka likes ocean sounds, raindrops or meditation music. If you’re searching for slow, rhythmic music, this Meditation Relaxation playlist should do the trick.
4. Exfoliate for Softer Skin
When choosing an exfoliating body scrub, look for a product with all-natural and soothing ingredients. “I recommend that patients start with a body scrub that’s gentle and won’t irritate the skin,” says Dr. Sarkar. “It’s a great way to get off that first layer of dead, dull skin, so anything that you put in the bath has a better chance of penetrating.” She’s a fan of Herbivore Coco Rose Coconut Oil Body Polish ($36), which feels luxurious but won’t strip skin of moisture.
5. Fill Your Tub With Tepid Water — and Fragrance
You might enjoy the feel of hot water on your skin, but that can dry you out. Tepid water is best, says Ross, so keep that in mind when filling up your bathtub. While you’ve got the water running, add three to five pumps of Borghese Bagno di Vita Gentle Foaming Shower Gel ($24) to your bath to create bubbles. The shower gel features relaxing notes of thyme and chamomile along with skin softeners like sweet almond and olive oil. Diane Elizabeth, founder of Skin Care Ox, recommends adding citrus oil to your bath for a mood lift. She says adding a scent to your tub will go “a long way to helping you to relax and feel indulgent.” To really go all-out, add sliced citrus fruits like oranges, lemons and limes. Clean beauty company Follain has a great recipe for a DIY spa-inspired citrus bath.
6. Soak With Salt
Want to know one of the easiest ways to relax your mind and body? Drop some salt into your bath. “For me, adding soaking salts to my bath is a no-brainer to create a more spa-like experience,” says Jessica Morelli, founder of Palermo Body. Her Palermo Body Replenishing Salt Soak ($32) is made with pink Himalayan and Dead Sea salts, which are rich in minerals like magnesium, calcium and potassium. In addition to being good for the skin, “they are helpful in removing toxins, stimulating circulation and soothing sore muscles, making them the perfect addition to any bath experience,” says Morelli. To use, Morelli suggests adding a liberal amount of soaking salts to your water. For a drugstore pick, try CVS Health Epsom Salts ($4.50).
Add a Bath Bomb
Beyond bubbles and salt soaks, scented bombs can take your bath to the next level. Drop one in and watch it fizz. Lush makes a wide variety of bath bombs, but their best-sellers include Intergalactic ($7.95) with peppermint and popping candy, Sex Bomb ($7.95) with seductive scents like jasmine, clary sage and ylang ylang, and Big Blue ($6.95) with sea salt, seaweed, lavender and lemon oil to make you feel like you’re in the ocean. Salus is another reputable bath bomb brand. Choose from among Oatmeal, Milk and Honey Bath Bomb ($2.95), Garden of the Gods Bath Bomb ($2.95) and Lavender & Vanilla Bath Bomb ($2.95). If you want your bath to pull double-duty and relieve period cramps, check out QueenV Bombshell ($9), a set of bath bombs packed with essential oils to relieve menstrual cramps. No tub? No problem. You can still make your shower spa-like with a CVS Shower Tab ($3.20), which features cooling eucalyptus and menthol.
Get Romantic With Rose Petals
If you have a tub big enough to fit two (we’re envious if you can!), get your partner involved and create a romantic environment. You’ve already got the candles burning and the music playing — all you need to do is add a final romantic touch. “To make it feel like a real spa experience, I recommend sprinkling a few rose petals on top [of your bath],” says Dr. Sarkar. And if you’re floating rose petals on top of a bath that’s made for one, more power to you — you’re awesome.
Target Specific Skin Concerns
While you soak in the tub, slather on a face mask to address any specific skin care concerns you might have. Ross suggests mixing up a DIY face mask: If you have acne or inflammation, he recommends applying a teaspoon of organic Manuka honey with your fingers and spreading it around your entire face. Leave it on for five to 10 minutes, then rinse off. Some of our favorite masks include Niu Body Detox Green Clay Mask ($15) to sop up excess oil and Savor Beauty Chocolate Truffle Cake Face Mask ($35) to boost your glow. Dr. Sarkar likes using sheet masks in the bath. If you want to go all the way, mist your face with your favorite toner and then put a sheet mask on,” she says. Try Skin Laundry Wrinkle Release Facial Sheet Mask ($12 each) for anti-aging benefits.
Hydrate Your Body Post-Bath
Once you’re done with your bath, take a quick shower to rinse off any oils or masks you still have on, says Wasowka. “Wet skin acts like a sponge, so using moisturizer after the bath means your skin will absorb and lock in that moisture,” she adds. Try Borghese Tono Body Creme ($48), which is formulated with fennel, witch hazel and chestnut and ivy extracts to hydrate, along with lavender and rosemary extracts for aromatherapy benefits. Then gently pat your skin with a towel. “Avoid harsh rubbing,” says Wasowka. “You don’t want to irritate your skin or wipe off your moisturizer.” Finally, wrap yourself in a fluffy robe or plush towel. “Invest in one of those — or both — and have it ready post-bath or shower,” recommends Wasowka. “You want your bliss to continue long after you’ve stepped out of the bath.”
What Do YOU Think?
Do you treat yourself to baths every once in a while? Are you going to start? What other self-care activities do you make time for? Let us know in the comments.