We love bathing. From Romans bathing in the hot mineral water in the city of Bath to Cleopatra taking a dip in milk and honey, our infatuation with baths isn’t new. Whether it’s the use of hydrotherapy for health, or purely for a dose of zen, a soak can do wonders. We chatted with Lush Spa treatment developer and wellbeing guru, Hannah Lammiman, to get to the bottom of the age-old question: what makes the perfect bath?
TL;DR: for the ultimate relaxation experience, draw a bath that’s just a little warmer than body temperature. Do it in the evening and soak for at least 15 minutes to make sure you get all those skincare and self-care benefits. Find out why below...
Baths can’t solve everything, but they can certainly make a difference to your day. Hannah says, “A bath is very different to a shower. It relaxes the skin tissues so your skin looks smoother, more hydrated, and it brings the blood to the surface to help skin cell renewal. It’s great for your mind too, it’s about stepping down your thoughts and just being immersed by the water around you.”
A soak in a hot bath has been proven to boost moods and strengthen circadian rhythms, the biological clock that determines when we feel sleepy or alert. And while regular baths can make us feel better mentally, they can also make us feel better physically. Studies have suggested that taking time out to bathe can burn the same number of calories as a 25–30-minute walk, lower blood sugar and improve heart health. We’re not proposing you regularly drop your workout gear in favor of some tub time, but there’s no doubt about the benefits bathing can bring.
What temperature should my bath be?
Everyone’s tolerance for what’s too hot is different. However, it’s thought that the ideal water temperature is only slightly higher than our body temperature, which is around 98°F or 37°C. Much higher than this, and your heart begins to work harder. An extra tip? If you wince when putting your hand in the water, then it’s probably too hot.
Hannah recommends avoiding baths that are too hot by running your bath on the cooler side and adding warm water if needed once you’re settled in the tub.
How long should I bathe?
While some may easily lose track of time in the bath, others find the whole idea of sitting doing nothing challenging. Give yourself at least 15-30 minutes of doing absolutely zilch. But is there a magic number when it comes to optimizing your soak? Hannah thinks so:
“If you’re adding something like Epsom salts, magnesium or anything to help ease aches and pains, then to really get the benefits and help with muscle function, you should be in the bath for about 20 minutes to help the osmosis of those ingredients into your skin.”
Rituals are an important part of daily life. Most of us perform them without even realizing; whether it’s having a coffee at the same time every morning, or a wind-down routine performed before bed to help us sleep. Rituals offer us a sense of structure and can help us feel more in control of our hectic lives. Hannah explains, “Rituals and routines are really important. When we’re babies we learn the ritual of bath, bottle, bed. As adults we can turn bathing into a similar ritual by putting on our favorite music, listening to a podcast, lighting candles or using our favorite bath products. Putting aside time to think ‘I’m going to have a bath tonight’ is a really lovely ritual. It’s a special treat that’s not very expensive and yet it can change your day and your mindset completely.”
If you’re a fan of taking a bath before bed, we’ve got good news. Studies have shown that taking a dip before you hit the hay can help promote sleep. The rise in body temperature followed by a rapid cool-down period is similar to the temperature drop that happens to our bodies in the evening, making us feel sleepy. If you’re struggling to switch off in the evening, a warm bath may just be your new best friend.
Create the perfect mood
How do you take your bath? Share your favorite bathtime rituals and stories with us using #Lush.