Why Bathtime Should Be Bigger

Photo courtesy of Caiaimage/Rex/REX USA

Tub Heaven

The English love baths; Americans love showers. Beauty company executives always shake their heads ruefully at this fact, usually as they add yet another shower gel variation to their lineups. A shower is indeed a fantastically invigorating and efficient thing, and baths are entirely another animal. But in this case the English are, as they might say, spot-on.

Think of a bath as slow food—for the mind and body. If you’re cold, it’ll warm you up—for hours on end. If you’re stressed, it’ll calm you down—again, the effects last beyond the bath. If you can’t sleep, the slight cooling that happens when you emerge from the tub actually signals your body to sleep. There’s no better place to discuss the ills or joys of the world with a child than when they’re in the bath; there are also few better places to read a book. Sore muscles relax, the brow unfurrows. Do it.

Dermatologists complain that a hot bath dries out the skin (it does, there’s no doubt). Counter the drying effect with oil—body oil as opposed to conventional “bath oil,” which often has surfactants (drying detergents) added to make bubbles and disperse the oil evenly. (If it bubbles, moisture is not what you’re getting; if you see oil droplets on the surface of the water, rub it into your skin and reap all the moisture). Oils have the added benefit of aromatherapeutic scents that intensify the pleasure of a bath by about six zillion percent. (You can, of course, use plain coconut oil or other scentless oil if you prefer.)

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