A long, luxurious soak in a hot bath is one of my favourite parts of an autumn self-care ritual. But while many of us steer clear of harsh, synthetic and often toxic bath ingredients, preferring natural, organic products which are kind to our bodies and the environment, it’s not always necessary to splash out on pricey off-the-shelf lotions and potions. In fact, most of us have a range of affordable, therapeutic, vegan bath ingredients at home on our kitchen shelves, which means that now every bath can be a natural home spa experience. Hooray!
If you don’t have a bath in your home, all of the following suggestions can be used to wonderful effect in a pampering foot bath. Happy feet = happy body. Here are 10 of my favourite ingredients for a healing, restorative bath.
1 LEMON Lemon soothes and detoxifies the skin and will uplift your spirits with its bright, fresh aroma. It’s also known to support digestion, boost immunity, aid concentration and improve circulation. Slice a whole lemon and pop it in your bath: the mildly astringent essential oil will release on contact with warm water, and the lemon slices will float around like little sunshines in your bath.
2 OATMEAL An oatmeal bath is calming, soothing and recommended by doctors for eczema and sensitive skin. Oatmeal has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and contains chemicals known as saponins, which are characterized by their deep cleansing powers. For a luxurious, emollient, milky oatmeal bath, pour a cup of plain or fine oatmeal into your tub as it fills with water.
3 SALT A good handful of sea salt in your bath will imbue the waters with detoxifying, cleansing properties. Magnesium-rich Epsom salts or Dead Sea salts are even better for relieving muscular pain and soreness and reducing water retention, and a Himalayan pink salt bath is packed with minerals which are thought to draw out toxins and deep cleanse the skin, leaving it soft and vibrant.
4 HERBS For a refreshing and revitalising herbal bath, throw a few sprigs of mint, rosemary, fennel or basil from the garden or windowsill into the tub. All are great for clearing the head and lifting mental fatigue. Chamomile, lavender, lemon balm and bay leaves are great for calming, healing and promoting good sleep, while thyme, parsley and sage contain antioxidant properties that can help heal and repair the skin.
5 VEGETABLE OIL Almond, avocado, sunflower, safflower, walnut, coconut and grapeseed oils are all excellent additions for nourishing and moisturizing the skin and hair - but can leave your hair feeling greasy. Add few drops of essential oil to a tablespoon of oil to enhance the healing properties of the bath and to make you (and your bathroom!) smell lush: geranium, rose, lavender, chamomile and sandalwood are all delicious choices.
6 BAKING SODA Adding 4-5 tablespoons of baking soda to a warm bath will alkalise the water, helping to restore balance to the skin’s natural, slightly acidic pH and promoting the healthy elimination of toxins. Its soothing action will leave skin feeling silky soft and is great for itchy, irritated skin and other common skin problems. Doctors have been known to recommend a sitz bath with baking soda to relieve thrush, haemmoroids and fissures.
7 APPLE CIDER VINEGAR One cup of this highly nutritious liquid in a bath will nourish skin with Bvitamins, vitamin C and trace minerals, as well as softening the skin and making hair super-shiny. It might smell a bit funny at first - but many swear by this home remedy to relieve common problems like eczema, dandruff, acne, fungal infections, urinary tract infections and joint pain.
8 TURMERIC For an Ayurvedic home-spa treatment, add a tablespoon of turmeric to a warm bath - but take note that it will turn everything a yellowish hue, so be prepared to scrub it away afterwards! The stain will wash away from skin, nails and the bath over time and the health benefits are worth it. The spice is used in eastern medicine for its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory action; it is also believed to nourish the skin, soothe joints and even assist weight loss.
9 GINGER If you’re feeling low or sluggish, can’t shake a lingering cold or need a bit of inner fire, a fresh ginger bath will give a much-needed boost to your energy, immunity and circulation. Add one or two cupfuls of sliced, fresh ginger to a warm bath, soak for 10 minutes and drink plenty of water to replenish.
10 GREEN TEA A powerful antioxidant, the minerals and vitamin B in the tea will soften the skin, keeping it youthful and flexible. Green tea is also said to calm the mind, soothe rashes and aid skin repair. Add five green tea bags to your bath and let it infuse for at least five minutes before you get in. You can also make an easy, detoxifying face mask by mixing matcha green tea powder with coconut oil and a little bit of water.