Whether a daily ritual or an occasional luxury, there’s no denying baths are all about pampering ourselves and revitalizing our bodies. Women (and an increasing number of men) go to great lengths to make bathing a multi-sensory experience, adding all manner of products to the water. But while bath products may soothe the soul, they can wreak havoc on the body.
Parabens, sodium lauryl sulfate, petrochemicals and synthetic fragrances are just a few of the not-so-body-friendly ingredients lurking in many bathing products. While there are an increasing number of natural product lines on the market, not all products that call themselves natural are completely natural, and many still contain synthetic fragrances or dyes. The best way to ensure no harmful chemicals are touching your body is to make your own bath products-and it’s easier than you might think.
If bubbles are a staple in your bath, I’m afraid I’ll have to, well, burst your bubble. The simple fact is chemical surfactants are necessary to stabilize bubbles in water, so there is no such thing as a “natural” foam bath or bubble bath product. While bubbles might make you feel luxurious, there are tons of other ways to create a fabulous bathing experience.
Bath salts are a fantastic alternative that can aid in treating skin ailments, easing arthritis, mitigating hair loss and minimizing insomnia. For a simple at-home bath salt, mix together equal parts of sea and Epsom salts in a jar, then slowly add 10 to 15 drops of your favorite essential oil, stirring the salts so the oil gets distributed evenly. If you’re looking for an invigorating scent, try mint or lemongrass, and for the ultimate in relaxation, you can’t go wrong with lavender or vanilla. And if you want to add color, you can extract colors from flowers and plants by crushing petals or leaves in a bowl with a very little warm water overnight. Then add drops of the colored water very slowly, mixing well. (You basically want to coat the salt grains, not have water sitting at the bottom.) If you have any fresh flower petals or leaves left over, add them to the jar of bath salts for fun!
Apple Cider Vinegar
If you’re looking for a rejuvenating, immune system-boosting bath, apple cider vinegar is your best friend. Two to four cups of pure, unprocessed apple cider vinegar (make sure there are no additives) in a hot bath will help restore the natural pH of your skin and hair, and it has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. It’s also a great skin soother, perfect for sunburns.
Honey is also a great antibacterial agent-studies have shown it’s useful in healing wounds and is as effective as many sinus medications-and a fantastic moisturizer. Simply combine one part honey with two parts sweet almond oil with a little vanilla extract for a deliciously sweet bath oil. (Just remember to be careful getting in and out of the tub with bath oils!)
If you like to have fun in the tub, a bath bomb might be the perfect addition to your routine. The citric acid and sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) in bath bombs make them fizz when they’re in water. While the ingredients aren’t strictly natural, both citric acid and sodium bicarbonate are found in nature and they aren’t harmful to the body. Many bath bombs also contain Witch Hazel and you can add whichever essential oils your heart desires.
If you still can’t picture a luxurious bath without bubbles, a half-dozen soy or beeswax candles along the side of the tub and flower petals scattered on the surface of the water is sure to add all the elegance you could want.