Along with almost everyone else I know, I’ve got a bad cold right now. To cope, I'm planning on spending an exciting Friday night in my bathtub. I realized that with all my years of reviewing spa treatments and learning about handcrafting body products, herbalism, and self-care rituals, I’ve got a lot of accumulated knowledge, so I’m sharing tips about taking an detoxifying bath at home. This type of bath is particularly helpful if you’re sick, because it can help you clear your sinuses (see eucalyptus mention below), sweat out toxins, and just cleanse the lymphatic system. And it's much less weird and extreme than the (INVASIVE) Calistoga mineral mud baths or "meditation color-therapy" baths I've written about in the past.
I always emerge from my detox baths renewed and I hope this helps you, too!
Essential oils (whatever your favorites are; I like neroli, rose, lavender)
Body brush (with stiff bristles)
Moisturizer (I recommend jojoba or shea butter)
(If desired) Ground ginger
(If desired) Himalayan or sea salt
(If desired) Dried herbs like rose, lavender, rosemary
(If desired) Muslin bag for dried herbs
(If desired) Badedas Classic Bubble Bath has fresh, woodsy scent notes like chestnut, cedarwood, and light patchouli, and basically makes me feel like I'm taking a bath in the middle of the forest
(If desired) Kneipp Sweet Dreams Herbal Bath with Valerian and Hops has sleep-inducing valerian infused in the ix. It turns the water a disturbing shade of blue but does seem to help me sleep
- Set aside 45-60 minutes so you’re not rushing, and defeating the purpose.
- Get a huge bottle of purified water to drink while you soak.
- Set the tone: i.e., light candles; dim lights.
- Put on some chill music. Lately, I like Solange, Cecilia Bartoli (Italian opera singer), Charlie Haden (jazz bassist), Cesaria Evora (Cape Verdean ballad singer), Paco de Lucia (flamenco), Lhasa De Sela (Mexican-American chanteuse), and Jose Gonzalez. But you know what relaxes you best: If it’s Enya, Sinatra, or Massive Attack, godspeed.* Alternatively, listen to a guided meditation or 45-minute meditation talk by Tara Brach, Washington, DC-based Buddhist teacher and therapist. They are 45 minutes and filled with insights, funny/goofy stories, and Brach’s trademark empathy.
- Start filling the tub with warm (not super-hot) water.
- Dry brush your skin while you’re waiting for tub to fill: If you’ve never done this, find out more here. The most important thing to remember is to start at your feet and hands and use long strokes, sweeping towards your heart. The idea is to help your body shed dead skin layers and help the lymphatic system eliminate waste.
- Add Epsom salt to water (recommended amount for adults is 2 cups; when I’m stressed or achy I do more like 5 cups).
- Add 1-2 cups baking soda; (it softens skin).
- Add a handful of Himalayan or sea salt (the cheaper alternative).
- Add your favorite essential oils and/or bubble bath. To de-stress, I use neroli/lavender/rose/ylang-ylang. To clear sinuses, eucalyptus and rosemary are helpful. Dry herbs like rose, mint, lavender, or rosemary are nice too—just put them in a porous bag like this muslin one, so they don’t leave a mess in your tub.
- (Optional) Add a small amount of ginger (1-2 Tbsp) to help you sweat out toxins.
- Swirl the water around to dissolve the salts.
- Soak for 20-45 minutes.
- Brush your skin again (in the same motion, from the outer limbs towards your heart), with the dry brush or just your hands.
- Apply a moisturizing lotion like shea butter or jojoba. (Or, for deluxe moisturization that also can be kind of messy, rub a mixture of olive and castor oils all over; stand there for two minutes, and then shower it off.)
- Drink lots of water—with lemon if you’ve got it.
- Sleep like baby.