I take at least two baths a day. I’m not proud of the carbon footprint it takes to deliver all that hot water, but if it means spending less time on airplanes to make up for it, I’m willing. I don’t bathe for cleansing so much for comfort. The bath is my cocoon, like a liquid Snuggly.
Like all things in life, my strong attachment to the bath harks back to my childhood. Our house was always cold, and every morning, I’d scramble from my bed to the bathroom, where I’d sit in the bathtub, impatiently waiting for it to fill up and blanket me. We didn’t have a fireplace, so the bath was the next best thing.
After a lifetime of taking baths, drawing one seems about as intuitive as eating, so when I was asked to write about my bath routine, I paused. But it is bath season, so here are my tips to achieving the perfect bath in your very own bathroom.
Step one: Clean the tub. Bathtubs are often gross, filled with everything from lingering shampoo residue to yucky rings left behind from past baths. Sprinkle a little baking soda on a wet sponge and have at it, then rinse thoroughly before proceeding.
The most important element needed to optimize the bath experience, other than a tub full of really warm water, is low lighting. Taking a bath in a brightly lit bathroom completely defeats the purpose. You want calm, warmth, serenity, hygge. If your light has no dimmer switch, use the shower curtain to block it, or turn the lights off entirely and light a candle.
Our tub rests against a wall, with 19 bath products standing along its edge. I use maybe two or three of them on a regular basis, but I like having them all around me, like a stuffed animal collection. Each bottle and jar has been vetted — for its scent (which should be subtle; a good bath product knows that the bath water is the star and its fragrance is merely a supporting player), texture and relationship with the bath water, as well as aftereffects on me and my tub (Goop, you make lovely bath salts, but they leave a mean ring). Read on for my favorites.
The Best Bubble Baths
Bubble baths aren’t my thing — I prefer to see my water when I’m in there — but I respect their appeal. The sound of tiny bubbles bursting around you has the same calming effect as gently falling snow.
The Best Bath Salts
Bath salts — especially ones that contain soothing minerals— are great if you’ve overextended your body, pulled a muscle, or pinched a nerve.
The Best Bath Oils
Bath oils are excellent this time of year when your skin is begging for moisture. Don’t expect your bath to become a grease pit when you use these, though — their textures are less like olive oil and more like maple syrup without the stickiness.
Yes, this isn’t cheap, but it’s enormous and lasts forever. If the sprig of rosemary inside this bottle doesn’t send a clear enough message, this oil is like walking through an herb garden in full bloom (do herb gardens bloom?). Kaufmann wisely poured this fan favorite into a jumbo-size bottle back in 2018, and she’s found it hard to keep it on the shelves since.
The Best CBD Bath Products
CBD is in everything these days, but in bath products, its soothing and anti-inflammatory properties make perfect sense.
I like the square shape (odd for a bath bomb), and I like how it’s not overly fragrant or overly fizzy like some bath bombs can be. But what I really like is how the meadow foam and camphor manage to soften not just my skin but the bath water surrounding it. And no, I was not high when I noticed this.
The Best Sampler
Let’s say you’re still not convinced that a bath can transport you, so you’d like some soak options. 100 Senses Mind/Body Soak Sampler contains six mini bottles aimed at different moods, from the green tea–based calming Intrinsic to the white tuberose Intoxicated, to my favorite, Spirit Guide, a foresty vetiver and agarwood blend. All the soaks get their foam from coconut-derived emulsifiers and contain arnica and magnesium sulfate, because sore muscles always appreciate some soothing, no matter how your mind is feeling.
The Best Bath Candles
A candle is kind of mandatory, and despite my sensitivity to aroma, I tend to use scented ones. Bring your favorite into the bathroom; since you’re accustomed to it, the scent won’t feel overpowering. Where you place it is important, of course. You don’t want to set fire to the curtains (shower or window), so bath edges and windowsills are out. I place mine on the tiled floor or atop the nearby toilet seat.
And a Word About Time
It’s not about the amount of time you spend in the bath, but the quality of it. I’m rarely in mine more than 15 minutes because, frankly, I get bored. I don’t read, but sometimes I scroll. I don’t play music, but that does sound soothing. For me, it’s all about sinking into the water and letting it envelop me. I wash my face, I sink in. I cleanse my limbs with a body scrub, then sink again. I take some deep breaths, look around at the cocoon I’ve created, then sink few more times. Once out, I’m ready for the day — at least, until it’s time for the next bath.