It’s not just a lack of time that has made showering the most popular way to wash in the morning. As energy prices rocket, taking a shower is so much more economical than running a bath. And then there’s the eco factor: a bath consumes an average of 80 litres of water, but a shower uses about a third of that amount.
But something has been lost in our eschewing the trusty bathtub. A shower can be swift, invigorating, efficient – but it can’t relax you the way a luxurious soak in the suds can. And, on the dark autumn and winter nights, a bath is something to be savoured as it soaks away the stresses of the day, warms and soothes muscles and relaxes you in time for bed.
As an occasional treat, nothing beats a bath. It’s not just a feminine pursuit: I refer you to the Friends episode entitled, unsurprisingly, The One When Chandler Takes A Bath. And if that’s still too girlie-wirlie for some males, consider how much those butch Roman centurions loved their baths.
If one is going to enter into the ritual of bathing, there is no point having a quick dip. Take the phone off the hook or switch your iPhone to silent; commit to a minimum soak of 15 minutes and by all means add relaxing elements such as music, candles and a glass of wine as the mood takes you (Chandler found this fun too, chaps.)
You might like to shower first so that you are clean before your bath, allowing you to fully enjoy your bath as a relaxing therapy rather than a mere cleansing procedure. And lock the door!
Bath salts, oils or gels?
It’s a matter of taste. Gels produce more suds, oils retain scent and salts soothe. Generally, oils are by far the best skin smoothers but they do leave a slippery film on the bath. If you’re like me, your OCD gene might kick in and you’ll have to clean the bath as soon as you step out of it, which kind of ruins the whole point of a relaxing bath.
Close your eyes and luxuriate in the warm scent of your chosen product. Enhance relaxation by doing some breathing exercises or visualisation. Or lose yourself in the music if you’ve brought your iPod into the bathroom. The aim is to soak away the pressures of the day.
If you want to get rid of rough or dry skin, use a body brush before you sink into the tub, or use a loofah during your bath. Resist the urge to fall asleep or remain in the bath until the water is tepid and you resemble a prune.
Step out, wrap yourself in a giant bathsheet and pat yourself dry. Complete the ritual with a softening body moisturiser, and head for bed. What’s not to like?
Aromatherapy Associates De-stress Muscle Bath & Shower Oil
Aromatherapy Associates De-stress Muscle Bath & Shower Oil55ml, £37
With hints of lavender, rosemary, ginger, black pepper and coconut oil, this intense and exotic oil washes away the effects of hard exercise and everyday physical stresses and strains. From Look Fantastic.
Rituals Sento Foaming Cream Bath
Rituals Sento Foaming Cream Bath500ml, £9.90
The relaxing combination of organic bamboo and wakame, inspired by Japanese bathing, cleanses and refreshes skin.
REN Seaweed and Sage Body Wash
REN Seaweed and Sage Body Wash200ml, £14
Winner of the 2009 Best Bodywash in GQ Magazine’s Grooming Awards. The smell of sage kickstarts the brain so it’s perhaps not the way to drift off in a relaxing fug of scent-infused steam, but this paraben-free gel is a favourite with male bathers. From REN.
Ortigia Ambra Nera Bath Oil
Ortigia Ambra Nera Bath Oil200ml, £26
An exotic and spicy blend of Sicilian oils that leave the skin enticingly scented. The top notes of Vetiver, Patchouli and Cedar over an amber base of Labdanum, Oak Musk, Galbanum and wood resins make this unmistakeably intense and male.
Aveda Soothing Aqua Therapy Salts
Aveda Soothing Aqua Therapy Salts400g, £27
Aveda’s delicately scented mineral-rich dead sea salts are wonderfully calming, and soothe, refresh and hydrate dry, stressed skin. The secret combination of plant-based emollients and beneficial essences gives a relaxing, aromatic bathing experience.
Jo Malone Red Roses Bath Oil
Jo Malone Red Roses Bath Oil250ml, £38
This is one of Jo Malone’s signature scents and a firm favourite. The combination of seven types of roses layered with honeycomb, clove and musk delicately soften the skin and leave it wonderfully scented. Visit Jo Malone.
Elemis Quiet Mind Relaxing Bath Elixir
Elemis Quiet Mind Relaxing Bath Elixir300ml, £19
Elemis’ soothing blend of patchouli and eucalyptus is blended to inspire tranquillity and relaxation. These are combined with a natural cocoa butter-derived cleansing agent to soften skin. From Elemis and Blissworld.
Beautannia Brideshead Bath & Shower Gel
Beautannia Brideshead Bath & Shower Gel350ml, £33
Beautannia’s feminine, floral gel, new to Space NK, is deliciously scented with a blend of wintersweet, honeysuckle, plum, peach and violet leaves. It softens and cleanses, with coconut and sugar-derived cleansers and moisturising oat protein to leave skin soft.
FOR BOTH SEXES
Ahava Natural Dead Sea Mineral Bath Salts
Ahava Natural Dead Sea Mineral Bath Salts250g, £5
The mineral combination of magnesium, calcium, sodium and potassium is softening and gentle, to soothe the body and ease muscle tension. You may need to use two sachets if you live in a hard-water area, which might make you wince at the price, but after 20 minutes in Ahava’s reviving bath salts you’ll declare you’re worth it. Visit Ahava.
ARK Skincare Living Bath & Body Oil
ARK Skincare Living Bath & Body Oil100ml, £26
A hard-working oil that can be used in the shower, bath or as a leave-on body oil. Its zesty combo of citrus fruits and plant oils makes this a winner with both sexes. Grapefruit, orange, lime, bergamot, rosemary, peppermint and eucalyptus create an aroma-therapeutic experience that both revives and relaxes.
Where to buy