Can you help me up my bath game?
May 26, 2020 4:16 AM   Subscribe

I’ve always loved a good bubble bath but during corona I notice myself taking them much more frequently. What can I add to make it more enjoyable and also help my skin?

Here’s my current set-up:
-bubble bath from the drug store. Nothing fancy, great at making bubbles
-bath salts from the drug store. I grab a few different kinds of single use packets when I go. I think these may be more for scent than any actual use but I don’t know for sure or what salts do to a bath. Nothing special about them and there’s been very few whose scent I dislike.
-music, I’m good with the mixes I’ve got
-candles, again just something cheap from the drugstore usually. Sometimes a glade one.
-bath pillow, but I’m not happy with it, it’s very flat
-kindle, but I don’t need book recommendations

What I’d like to do is
-add some kind of cream or oil to the bath to really help my skin. I don’t have problem skin, but if I’m going to soak in a liquid, why not make it better for my skin too? Recommendations for companies with a good bath product line would be super helpful.
-is there any other skin/healthcare I can do while I’m soaking?
-better candle recommendations. Looking for longer lasting and also strong smelling. Available in various sizes would be best.
-a really good bath pillow that stays in place and also has no cloth covering.
-anything else to help my relaxing experience. I want to bring my bath game up to a pro level

One point of complication, I live in Germany. So it would either need to be doable here or able to be shipped here.
posted by LizBoBiz to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (18 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I like to listen to audiobooks in the bath. You don't have to hold your arms up or worry about getting your book wet.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 4:21 AM on May 26, 2020 [2 favorites]

I like using oils in the bath. I usually add a few drops of an essential oil for scent & aromatherapy - my favourites are lavender, ylang ylang, and vetiver.

For salts, the main thing I use are epsom salts (magnesium sulfate). This is good for muscle relaxation, for example after a particularly intense exercise session.

For moisturising the skin, I sometimes add jojoba oil - one pump from a bottle. The other thing that works well for soothing skin is an oatmeal bath. Just putting oatmeal in the bath can get messy to clean up - I usually put the oats in a muslin cloth, tied up under the tap so the water runs through it.

No advice on the rest - I always read my kindle in the bath.
posted by yesbut at 5:18 AM on May 26, 2020

the main thing I use are epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) ... for muscle relaxation

Seconded. I get mine from the local farm supplies store in 25kg bags; costs way less per bath than in those chi-chi little boxes from the supermarket.
posted by flabdablet at 6:11 AM on May 26, 2020 [2 favorites]

On preview: what the two answers above say.

Epsom salts. Wonderful amazing beloved Epsom salts. The plain, unscented kind, that way you can still use the scented packets.
Use 2 full cups. It sounds like a lot but it’s fine. Maybe a wee bit less if you’re also using the packets.
The magnesium in Epsom salts is amazing for relaxation. And there are plenty of studies to prove it.
posted by Neekee at 6:22 AM on May 26, 2020 [1 favorite]

Dr. Teal's epsom salts are great. You can get them on Amazon but I think they're cheaper at Target, and Target has a house brand that's even less expensive. My skin (and the whole house) smells like eucalyptus or lavender or whatever for the rest of the day. It's lovely!
posted by something something at 6:26 AM on May 26, 2020 [1 favorite]

You could DIY your bath salts SUPER-easily. That'd also be a good way to get an oil into the bath.

I've got a recipe here that I've used before that makes enough for a few baths. As for what the various ingredients in these particular salts would do: the magnesium in the Epsom salts is good for muscle relaxation, and may also be good for sleep. The baking soda makes the water a little alkaline, which can soothe skin irritations and also is good for skin health. And the oils moisturize the skin. And the scents...are just fun!

I use essential oils for mine - they're pretty strongly scented - but you can also go nuts with some perfume or fragrance oils if you have them instead.

Here's the recipe:

1/4 cup Coconut Oil (melted)
1/4 cup Almond Oil
40-80 drops Essential Oils or fragrance oils
3 cups Epsom Salts
2 cups Baking Soda

Melt the coconut oil in a bowl, and then whip in the almond oil. Add in the fragrance, and then stir in the Epsom salts and baking soda. Dump into an airtight container. This makes enough for 5 baths.

The combination of essential oils I've used in this recipe is 10-20 drops each of lemon and rosemary, and 20-40 drops of peppermint. It's DELIGHTFUL. But you can also add lavender, rose, a combination of both, or woody scents like sandalwood and cedar and pine, or....

If you have access to dried herbs and flowers, too, that can be a good thing to add to bath salts - just a handful of crushed-up lavender or rose petals or even chamomile. (Just make sure you have a good strainer on your bathtub drain.)

Speaking of dried herbs and flowers, a "tub tea" is another fun idea. This is a combination of dried herbs or flowers that you dump into some kind of porous baggie and you drop that in your bath like it's a giant teacup; you can make them by simply crushing a handful of your chosen herbs, dumping that into the middle of a paper coffee filter, and then tying that shut. Or, bring a quart of water to a boil on the stove and dumping the herbs in, letting that steep a good 20 minutes or so, and then straining the herbs out and dumping the water in your bath.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:32 AM on May 26, 2020 [2 favorites]

It won't be nearly as foamy as a bubble bath, but my favorite and extremely moisturizing bath bomb is Lush's Butterball. It's got a lovely vanilla scent, doesn't stain or glitter up the tub (although it does leave it slippery, so beware), and my skin feels amazing afterwards. Lush has a bajillion other bath bombs, melts, etc etc.

I like doing a face mask during my bath, especially if I'm going to be taking a rinse-off shower after.
posted by Sparky Buttons at 6:38 AM on May 26, 2020 [1 favorite]

I bought a bath thermometer (the kind used for babies) so I can always run my bath to my ideal temperature (40 C). It makes it more relaxing when I don't have to mess around with running hot or cold when I get in. I also sometimes like the feeling of wearing a chilled gel eye mask for the hot and cold contrast. Eating frozen grapes while in the bath is also an amazing treat.
posted by to recite so charmingly at 7:08 AM on May 26, 2020 [2 favorites]

I skip the pricey premade salts and am too lazy to premix so I buy 5lb bags of Epsom salt and toss a cup in while the tub fills. Squirt of jojoba oil and a couple drops of essential oil (lavender usually) and I'm good to go.

For dry skin I buy Aveeno oat bath packets. They are ground to a fine powder that mixes well and doesnt clog up the drain. Very soothing. You could also grind oats yourself if you have a good food processor (you want it to be uniform dust) or use a muslin bag as suggested above.
posted by ananci at 7:45 AM on May 26, 2020

You're in Germany. Germany has Lush. (Insert rant about bloody Czechia having Lush when Poland does not here.) Shops should be open again, and the site has free shipping over 50 euro, which is quite easy to hit with Lush. Basically it's hard to beat them for scent-power and, well, lushness of their bath products. The best value for money are the bubble bars / Schaumbäder, where I can easily get 6-8 full baths out of most bars; the bath bombs can sometimes be divided (not the ones with centres), but rarely into more than 2 portions. I'm not experienced with the bath oils, but I suspect you can also get more than one use out of them. My favourite bars are Comforter, Rose Jam and French Kiss, but the lineup changes often. It's amazing what they can do to the skin, though be wary that the glitter ones... really glitter. Like for a week.

Yves Rocher also has fantastic bubble baths that are great value for money. They're rarely on sale, but post-Covid your lot seem to be running an even better sale than ours, with 4.5 euro for a 400 ml bottle (lasts, hmm, at least 10 baths, closer to 20). Scents are mostly fruity with a spicy kick - I love the almond-orange blossom one, and a lot of people go wild for the mango-coriander. The upside is that if you like a scent, there's a whole line of smelly things in the same scent line. These are mostly scent and bubbles, but very gentle on the skin.

Also in shippable things: an overflow cover (which I'm delighted Amazon Deutschland now has as well). It makes the bathtub instantly deeper, which means a more luxurious bath for anyone over average height. Do be careful with splashing though.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 7:49 AM on May 26, 2020 [5 favorites]

I'm not sure how deep your bathtub is, but it could always be deeper, right? Get yourself an overflow drain cover. I am a bath connoisseur and this is the single best thing I have ever done to up my bath game.

I'd also nth the Lush recommendations -- they are truly bath professionals (and claim to have invented the bath bomb).

I had a bath pillow that was large and vinyl covered with multiple suction cups -- it worked well for awhile but I got tired of having to clean it, as it seemed to hang on to anything oily. Now I just go without.
posted by fiercecupcake at 9:05 AM on May 26, 2020 [2 favorites]

L’Occitane has lovely almond oil range. Particularly nice body oils and creams. Available in DE.

Left field. Do you snack in the bath? Like a single fancy chocolate eaten very mindfully? Perhaps one from, say, here:
posted by BAKERSFIELD! at 1:53 PM on May 26, 2020

what I remember about drogeries in german speaking countries is that they have aisles dedicated to bath salts/bombs/powders.
posted by brujita at 3:04 PM on May 26, 2020

Definitely face mask and hair mask while you are in the bath. Might as well take advantage of not caring about your hair sitting around wet for an hour, and being in a good location for rinsing it off at the end. (You may want to use fresh water for that, if you have salts and oils in your bath. If you don't already have a bath-shower combo, get a hand-held shower nozzle thing to attach to the bath tap so you can wash your hair out without getting up and going to your shower).

I made myself a little bath shelf that sits across the tub so I can line up all the necessities - book, candle, cup of tea, glass of wine, cat - in front of me. You can buy such shelves too. (But they aren't cheap).

Get yourself a Korean bath mitt (sometimes called Italy Towel or Peeling Waschlappen in German) for exfoliating - it's amazing how much dead skin comes off when you do that at the end of a long bath. You can get them on, I think.
posted by lollusc at 7:00 PM on May 26, 2020 [1 favorite]

I like to listen to audiobooks in the bath. You don't have to hold your arms up or worry about getting your book wet.

Worrying about getting the book wet is a price I'm willing to pay for the luxury of being able to drown a Dan Brown or Robert Ludlum on completion without affecting the rest of my library.
posted by flabdablet at 11:14 PM on May 26, 2020 [4 favorites]

I bought my bath-loving boyfriend a wooden bath tray as a joke gift about two years ago.

Honestly, I will probably never repeat the success of that gift. It has been in constant use.
posted by citands at 2:36 AM on May 27, 2020 [2 favorites]

I have an overflow drain cover so that I can fill the tub up beyond the overflow drain. I also use plain epsom salts and throw in a generous amount (several handfuls) and I add a little bit of bubble bath (Vitabath - the original green one) and also will add milk (a few cups). I try not to use oils because they make my tub a little bit too slippery for safety and the last thing I want to do after a bath is clean the tub so that they next person taking a shower doesn't slip and crack their head open. I prefer soy based candles and find that they're usually good at holding scent, though with my bubble bath's scent, I don't need a lot of extra scent. If someone is coming to visit from the US, Trader Joe's is now selling lovely soy candles in a metal, lidded tin. They smell very nice and burn well. The scents change seasonally.

Toward the end of the bath, I exfoliate my skin with a Turkish bath mitt that takes off a lot of dead skin. I need to rinse after to get everything off, but then my skin is perfectly prepared for an application of lotion after I've gotten out of the bath. I much prefer lotion after bath to oil in the bath .
posted by quince at 12:42 PM on May 27, 2020 [1 favorite]

Oh, clay masks and other skin treatments also work on the rest of your body too. You'll have to hold off on actually getting into the tub while things are drying, but that can be another indulgent experience -

* Draw a bath of just plain, clean water, or plain water with a little scented oil in it (so it smells pretty).

* Use the mask, spreading it all over you think needs it; face, chest, thighs, butt, whatever.

* Rest for 10-15 minutes or however long it takes the mask to dry.

* Jump in the tub and wash the mask off from your everywhere.

You can use the clay masks from the drug store for this, or make your own masks with powdered clay and whatever liquids work best for your skin (there are a fafillion DIY spa mask recipes that can guide you to the right liquid - water, milk, a mix of both, etc.).

You can also DIY masks and body scrubs using stuff out of your pantry. One super-fancy one I've done in the past uses a mix of turmeric and ground rice mixed with yogurt - mix that up, smear that on yourself, massage it in, and then rinse off. Another one I've read about that's supposed to be super good for skin is nothing but pureed papaya.

IMPORTANT NOTE before you play with DIY spa treatments, though - patch-test a tiny bit on the back of your hand first, and make sure you don't have any kind of previously-unknown allergy to the stuff you're using. Smearing papaya all over yourself would be a hell of a way to discover "hey, I have a topical allergy to papaya juice I never knew about."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:47 AM on June 4, 2020

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