Yes, spas are amazing, we know. But, they also require a commitment, and sometimes, we just need a relaxing soak to decompress from a hectic week. Did you know you can make your own spa-quality treatments at home quite easily? Whether you're already a bath bomb connoisseur or are just dipping your toes in for the first time, we asked Tim Hollinger, the cofounder of Bathing Culture for his tips on how to create the ultimate bath experience.
Keep scrolling to learn how to create the perfect bath.
How to Prep Your Bathtub
- Set up your space: Keep your bathroom clean and decluttered. “Add some plants or a flower cutting, put on some low-key music, and mass up a big pile of towels next to the bath,” says Hollinger of creating your oasis.
- Rinse the tub: Remove the shower curtain and give the tub a light brush down with a scrub.
- Draw the tub: “Bath temperature is key. We like them to run around 107 degrees, which is hot, but not so hot that you have to play an uncomfortable game of footsie with the water before you get in,” says Hollinger.
- Add your soaking salts: This addition can make a big difference to the quality of your bath, but only use one. According to Hollinger, magnesium salt flakes are great for physical relaxation and an Epsom salt soak also does wonders to soothe sore muscles (Dr. Teal's Pure Epsom Salt Therapeutic Soak, $5, is a popular choice). “The best soaks use blends of different types of mineral-rich salts,” he says, adding that Bathing Culture’s Big Dipper Mineral Bath ($30) is a favorite.
Epsom salts are composed of magnesium sulfate. Magnesium sulfate can help reduce inflammation and help with skin detoxification.
Getting the grime off your body before the soak will also create a much more enjoyable soaking environment; the water will stay clean, and as a result, you’ll want to stay in it.
How to Create a Relaxing Environment
It's true that spas have a certain ambiance—they're usually calming, serene, and minimalistic. And while there is no right time of the day or night to have a soak, Hollinger says it is essential to carve out at least 20 minutes. “This is especially true if you use a salt soak, which needs time to work into your sore muscles,” he adds.
Light some candles
Candles will definitely set the mood for relaxation during your soak. Use unscented candles if you're looking for a little glow, or light your favorite scent. Be wary of competing aromas if you're using essential oils in your bath so one smell won't overpower the other, or worse, give you a headache.
Add a few drops of essential oils
If you're partial to bath oils, we like Dr. Hauschka's Aromatherapy Bath Oil ($25), which is available in a range of scents from lavender to sage. Bath oils can protect skin from the effects of hot bathwater, so make sure your bath products are hydrating.
Grab a snack
Take this time for self-care to the fullest with a healthy snack to munch on while you soak. Hollinger prefers a bowl of crisp grapes but says other light snacks can go a long way as well. And don’t forget your beverage of choice (we're partial to wine or a cup of tea). A cold glass of water is a must, regardless of bath length, as this will help the body to rehydrate.
A side table or bath tray is helpful to hold all of your bath accouterments.
The last thing you want after a relaxing bath is a stiff neck. If you're a seasoned pro, you most likely have a bath pillow suction-cupped onto the tub (we like Hankey's Bathtub and Spa Pillow, $11) to make your bath more luxurious. You can also roll up a hand towel to put under your neck.
How to Make the Most of Your Bath
“There is a special moment while bathing when your body and the water temperature reach equilibrium… this moment brings us back to the safe feeling of the womb, which has been proven to reduce anxiety,” says Hollinger. “While we are all taking steps to make the world a better place, we can’t do this unless we’ve taken care of ourselves.”
Steps to Create the Perfect Bath
Consider this the perfect downtime to flip through that magazine or the pile of best-sellers stacking up on your nightstand. But think twice before bringing a tablet or phone to the tub. “Bathing is one of the few times you can escape that digital noise,” says Hollinger.
While the bath can be a sanctuary for those who want to get lost in their thoughts, it can also be an environment for creativity. “I know people who paint in the tub, pull tarot, light mellow incense, or even bring crystals into the bath with them,” says Hollinger.
Apply a face mask
Whether you choose a cooling cucumber gel mask to soothe redness and irritation, a charcoal mask to draw out impurities, or a hydrating mask to combat dryness, applying a face mask during your bath pulls double duty in the skincare department. Let it sit for 10 minutes on your face and then wash it off with a warm washcloth in the tub. Follow up with your routine of toners, serums, and creams post-bath.
After soaking for a good 15 minutes, some people opt for an exfoliation session. Pull on some bath mitts (aka exfoliating gloves) and give yourself a good, vigorous scrub. You can whip up a DIY body scrub made from simple pantry ingredients like coconut oil, brown sugar, or oatmeal and honey. You won't believe how soft and supple your skin feels afterward.
Finish off with moisturizer
Hot water tends to dehydrate your skin. Be sure to use a good moisturizer after you've toweled off to lock in remaining moisture and help replenish skin. Pay attention to patches of skin that tend to get rough or extra dry, like elbows, knees, and knuckles.