"Hot bath" sounds like the two most brilliant words when it's bitterly cold outside. But most of us know a hot bath comes at a price – maybe more than one.
First, a hot bath is a surefire way to strip your skin of all its natural oil, something we do not want to do in the middle of a moisture-deficit season.
Second, a bath always means cleaning the tub, definitely before and probably after. And whether you have to clean the tub immediately afterward depends on two things: 1) what you put in the water, and 2) how visible the ring around the tub is – ick.
the right way to take a bath
Our Mum has never liked baths. These may not be her exact words, but essentially she dislikes them because really, for the duration of the soak, you're pretty much marinating in a hot soup of your own filth. Ick, ick, ick.
That's where The Right Way To Take A Bath comes in, and it's very simple: shower and wash thoroughly before you sink into the tub.
We still need to compensate for the drying effects of the hot water – and we all know the first step is simply lower the temperature. Okay, for most of us "warm" isn't as lovely as "hot-as-you-can-stand-it" seeping into chilled bones. But for extremely dry and itchy winter skin, a hot bath is a risk because it will exacerbate the problem, especially if it involves some kind of scented bubble bath.
Time spent in the water matters too; most of us also have to fight the urge to linger in the bath. Setting the stage for a relaxing soak takes a while; seems foolish to rush through it, doesn't it? Still, no surprise: 10 minutes is better for skin than 30.
bath stuff for cold-weather skin
For calming winter-dry and even eczema-prone skin, believe it or not, my favourite bath buddy –*tries not to get distracted by thoughts of Chris Hemsworth* – is Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Bath ($14.29 CAD at well.ca), a fragrance-free mix of colloidal oatmeal and barrier-boosting mineral oil that comforts and softens beautifully. Aveeno Soothing Bath Treatment ($14.29 CAD at well.ca and $6.97 USD at walmart.com) for soothing itchy skin is similar, made with 100% colloidal oatmeal and without mineral oil.
Another moisturizing option, although not fragrance-free, is Herbivore Coconut Milk Bath Soak ($22.50 CAD and $18 USD at sephora.com), which contains coconut milk powder plus a vanilla-and-coconut scent. Or try a Consonant Hydrate Bath Bomb ($21 at consonantskincare.com), which contains a blend of colloidal oatmeal, mango butter, sweet almond oil, honey and neroli. And if you like making your own concoctions, you might like to try this Milk & Honey Bath Melt recipe that involves shea or mango butter, almond oil, honey and powdered milk.
Unfortunately, even if you shower and cleanse thoroughly before taking a bath with these skin-conditioning ingredients, oatmeal and oils and butters can make a bit of a mess of the tub. But at least your lovely soak wasn't seasoned with your own dirt, so there's that.
Do you know why we get prune-y fingers and toes when we spend time in water? Apparently it's not exactly a sign that your skin is waterlogged – rather, it's to improve your grip on wet items. According to scientificamerican.com, the wrinkles serve to "channel water away like the rain treads in car tires." (An investigation into this began in 2011; I heard about the now-proven theory from my 13-year-old niece Lauren just recently 😆)
To recap, there is a Right Way To Take A Bath:
• cleanse thoroughly in the shower first
• aim for quite-warm water instead of near-scalding hot
• add skin-conditioning ingredients
• keep the soak short-ish
• afterward, pat excess moisture from skin and immediately apply lotion or cream
Do you take baths? Do you shower first? What's your fave bath-time dry-skin remedy?
AVEENO DAILY MOISTURIZING BATH ingredients: Colloidal oatmeal 43% (w/w). Non-Medicinal Ingredients: Mineral oil, laureth-4, calcium silicate.
CONSONANT HYDRATE BATH BOMB ingredients: Sodium Bicarbonate (Baking Soda), Magnesium Sulfate (Epsom Salt), Citric Acid, Persea Gratissima Oil (Avocado Oil), Avena Sativa Meal (Colloidal Oatmeal), Mangifera Indica Seed Butter (Mango Butter), Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis Oil (Sweet Almond Oil), Honey, Citrus Aurantium Amara Oil (Neroli Oil).
AVEENO SOOTHING BATH TREATMENT ingredients: Colloidal Oatmeal 100%
HERBIVORE COCONUT MILK BATH SOAK ingredients: Sodium Bicarbonate, Dehydrated Vegan Coconut Milk, Coconut Pulp CO2, Vanilla Planifolia Absolute.