Beauty

The (Serious) Magic Behind Serious Baths

We’re not big bath takers in the US, and the baths we do take tend to be bubbly, drying mixtures of harsh detergents and synthetic fragrances—transformative only in the most negative sense. But just as hot water has the power to drive those harmful ingredients into our skin, it can also deliver seriously beneficial ingredients to our bodies just as directly.

GP started working with Paul Kempisty, L.Ac., several years ago, focusing on acupuncture. Because his years of training and experience in Chinese medicine and herbalism (he has a master’s in acupuncture, but also studied for years in hospitals in Beijing, and with a Daoist priest in the US, along with some fourteen years of private practice in Soho) inform whatever he does, he naturally brought those traditions to bear on their work together.

“Acupuncture and herbal medicine are the foundation of my clinical work,” says Kempisty. “The versatile, pragmatic philosophy of Chinese medicine lends itself to understanding the deeper capabilities of other revitalizing modalities, like essential oils and aromatherapy.”

When goop hired him to collaborate with GP on a collection of five therapeutic baths, Kempisty applied the philosophy of Chinese medicine—addressing underlying causes—to the project, choosing oils that worked together on the individual concerns to be addressed by each bath. “We were combining herbs and essential oils with specialty salts from all over the world,” he says. “Gwyneth and I really wanted to create the highest quality product.” Below, Kempisty takes us through what’s in the baths and why, and details some of the process that went into creating them:

A Q&A with Paul Kempisty

Q

How is taking a bath helpful, in your view?

A

Opting to take a bath is sort of akin to choosing to sit for meditation: In this modern world, where all of us have so much to do in so little time, where we’re in this endless pursuit of ever-increasing efficiency, to be able to take time out of one’s daily schedule and get off the hamster wheel to do something distinctly inefficient (in terms of time management), and actually take a breath, soak, relax, and become grounded in our bodies is really fantastic. A good bath offers us an opportunity to nourish our inner dimension, to soothe ourselves on a deep level—and its effects are really amplified when we combine them with essential oils and aromatherapy.

“Opting to take a bath is sort of akin to choosing to sit for meditation.”

Q

What was the process of collaborating with GP on the baths?

A

We talked about what each of the five baths was supposed to do, and then I went into my aromatherapy library of some two hundred essential oils and started tinkering and mixing. We worked back and forth, trying different combinations of herbs, oils, and salts, going in different aromatic directions, balancing the elements—it was an amazing process.

Sourcing the highest quality ingredients involved sampling hundreds of individual essential oils to really hone in on what was the brightest, cleanest, purest option for each ingredient we needed. That evolutionary process helped us achieve incredible therapeutic, aromatic, and quality benchmarks.

“Sourcing the highest quality ingredients involved sampling hundreds of individual essential oils to really hone in on what was the brightest, cleanest, purest option for each ingredient we needed.”

Q

What, for you, were the most important elements in creating a detox-focused bath?

A

Helichrysum essential oil is key to the detox formula because of its role in Qi stagnation. When these elements are flowing smoothly, our bodies are healthier, according to Chinese medical tradition. Coriander essential oil is also fantastic for detoxing.

Q

What did you focus on in creating a bath for someone who’s feeling under the weather?

A

Eucalyptus radiata essential oil provides excellent support. But unlike some common OTC cold and flu remedies, which can overstimulate us and interfere with sleep, eucalyptus is calming and grounding. Tea tree oil was also critical to include: It’s potent but gentle.

Q

We know a bath feels amazing after working out—is there a way to amp up that soothing effect on sore muscles?

A

Frankincense essential oil is a key ingredient in the post workout bath because it has the ability to rouse consciousness. Turmeric essential oil is another important ingredient in the post-workout bath.

Q

We all try to emotionally detoxify after a rough day—or a breakup, an argument, etc.—for some it’s a glass of wine, others a night of Netflix, for others, a yoga class. In designing a bath to soothe the spirit, what were the critical ingredients?

A

The three main ingredients in the emotional detox bath are considered by many traditions and religions to be holy anointing oils: frankincense, myrrh, and sandalwood. Each has the ability to support spiritual growth and consciousness, and by doing so, helps us let go of mental and emotional toxins in a way that allows us to remain aware and connected. Two additional ingredients, nagamotha and vetiver, have a soothing and grounding effect, supporting and balancing the other ingredients.

Q

The fact that a bath or shower before bed tricks the body toward sleep mode (the slight cooling of the body when you emerge from the tub/shower triggers this reaction) is well-known. What ingredients did you include in G.Nite to support that process?

A

The three main ingredients in the sleep-enhancing bath—lavender, spikenard, and sandalwood—are all very soothing, calming, and grounding essential oils. The lavender works to soothe the fluctuating mind, the sandalwood calms, and the spikenard grounds the physical body.

Q

How do the goop baths work within the context of your overall practice?

A

The most important element for me, working one-on-one with clients, is helping each of them find ways to improve their lives and overcome challenges with natural and nontoxic options. So whatever I’m doing with a client—whether it’s an herb, a vitamin, essential oils, or acupuncture points—the therapy has got to produce results. I remember wasting so much time, energy, and money on various protocols when I was younger and interested in natural methods for my own health, so I’m not interested in wasting time in my own practice. A combination of Eastern medical training, loads of scientific research, and blending the right therapies for each case seems to produce the results my clients are looking for. Working with Gwyneth, I applied the same approach, taking a detailed history, understanding what’s going on in terms of Chinese medicine philosophy, and creating an individualized plan of acupuncture, herbs, and aromatherapy. I think what struck her was the powerful synergy of these techniques and the ability to produce a positive effect after the first session.

“Working with Gwyneth, I applied the same approach, taking a detailed history, understanding what’s going on in terms of Chinese medicine philosophy, and creating an individualized plan of acupuncture, herbs, and aromatherapy.”

For the baths, there was a clear goal for each one, as well as an evolutionary process that allowed us to achieve therapeutic, aromatic, and quality benchmarks. It was great to work in this collaborative manner with a team that was really focused on efficacy and quality; and when the feedback started coming in about how effective the initial prototypes were, it was clear that this approach was paying off.


Paul Kempisty has been an herbalist, acupuncturist, specialist in Chinese medicine, and aromatherapist based in New York City for over fourteen years. After getting his masters in traditional Chinese medicine, he worked in several Beijing hospitals in the oncology and gynecology departments. Returning to the US, he studied herbal medicine with a Daoist priest, and interned in medical oncology before opening his private clinic in Soho. His work combines Western and Eastern medical practices to help his patients overcome health challenges using natural and nontoxic treatments.


The views expressed in this article intend to highlight alternative studies and induce conversation. They are the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of goop, and are for informational purposes only, even if and to the extent that this article features the advice of physicians and medical practitioners. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.

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