I love the tub and come from a long line of bathers. My mother, Anne, the queen of all bathers, takes a 90-minute tub every afternoon around four o’clock. She has been taking these long daily baths for 35 years, probably more. At 85, she’s vibrant and sharper than ever. To quote a family friend who recently visited after not having seen her in 20 years, “It was wonderful to see how articulate, dynamic, and active she is.” Does this have anything to do with her daily baths? Absolutely. “It relaxes me and prepares me for the next day,” she says.
My mother began her daily bath routine as part of a physical therapy program that involved bending and stretching exercises, as well as kicking her feet. “I decided to do the exercises in the tub because I knew if I kicked my feet in the water, it’s much more comfortable,” she tells me.
Occasionally, she adds a cup of lavender Epsom salts to her warm, two-thirds-full tub. She also listens to the radio while in the tub—NPR or a classical music station—which she says, “Eases the exercises. You go into a different state when you listen to the abstraction of music. It facilitates the exercises.”
Why does she exercise in the tub? Because, as an octogenarian and a polio victim, she believes that “if you don’t use it, you lose it.” My mother was diagnosed with polio at 20 months old, and from that time, until she was eight, my Grandmother Lucy massaged her legs every single day with warm olive oil—usually right after a bath. (This was before the Sister Kenny method was known in the US, my mother informs me.)
I ask her about her earliest water memory.
“My first memory is being held by my abdomen, face down in a tub—it was a green tub—that was a part of the apparatus at Bellevue Hospital, where the top orthopedic doctors were at the time. I think I was around three or four, 1936 or 1937. The doctor was balancing his hand on my abdomen, balancing me in the water—telling me to kick my feet.”
Bath Soaks & Soaps
It’s the rare occasion that I don’t add aromatherapy oils, bath powders or salts to my daily baths. In the mornings, I use essential oils that are uplifting and refreshing, like lemon, peppermint, or rosemary. In the evening (yes, I confess, sometimes I do take two baths a day), I prefer calming and relaxing oils like jasmine, sandalwood, or lavender. I’m a big fan of the bath oils from Aromatherapy Associates and Kneipp.
Best for Travel
Bath powders and salts are perfect travel companions. I never leave home without packing them in my bag, and the first thing I try to do at my destination, especially if there is a time change, is take a nice Epsom salt bath—it’s both refreshing and great for detoxing from the plane ride; it’s also good for the body and helps alleviate any soreness or stiffness. Earth Matters Apothecary makes an incredible bath powder that’s rich in Dead Sea salts and ionized clay, and Dr. Singha’s Mustard Bath never disappoints (especially if you’re feeling under the weather).
The 10 Best Bath Soaks & Soaps
The Beauty 100 is a media collaboration between InsidersGuidetoSpas.com and Spirituality & Health magazine. We’ve chosen 100 leading natural and organic skincare products, including The 10 Best Bath Soaks & Soaps. Enjoy!