The Best Bath Soaks for Better Relaxation
If you're looking for a quick way to relax and unwind, try a bath soak to feel rested and restored. Here are dermatologists' top bath soak picks.
If there’s one thing we can all agree on is that we need more time to relax, unwind, and de-stress. One of the most time-honoured ways to do this is to enjoy a bath soak, or lying in a nice warm bath filled with rejuvenating bath salts to ease tension, stress, stimulate circulation, and even muscle aches and pains. This practice has been in place since ancient times, dating as far back as the ancient Greeks and Romans, notes Blair Murphy-Rose, MD, New York City dermatologist and Clinical instructor at NY Presbyterian Hospital – Weill Cornell Medical Center.
“Mineral-rich waters containing salts, essential oils, oatmeal, and milk are thought to provide a therapeutic soak, offering a myriad of health and wellness benefits,” she says.
The benefits of a bath soak
There are several benefits to using bath soaks. Here are a few of the most important ones.
Eases muscle aches
“Epsom salts, also known as magnesium sulfate, are thought to help with various medical ailments including muscle soreness, joint pains or cramping, and stress relief,” says Marisa Garshick, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Medical Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery (MDCS) in New York. “While some have thought it is related to magnesium being absorbed through the skin, it is unknown how much magnesium penetrates the skin and how much is needed to be absorbed to be clinically relevant.”
(Related: 10 Surprising Benefits of an Epsom Salt Bath)
Bath salts may help relieve inflammation associated with several skin conditions, including contact dermatitis, psoriasis, and eczema, according to research published in the International Journal of Dermatology. “Although it can be used for these conditions, it is important to remember that it can be drying on the skin so it is important to always moisturize the skin after getting out of the bath,” adds Dr. Garshick.
Calms redness and itching
Adding colloidal oatmeal to your bath may help soothe itchy, sensitive skin, according to research published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology (JDD). Other research published in 2018 in the JDD has found that colloidal oatmeal may help strengthen the skin barrier, the outermost layers of skin, further protecting it from dryness and irritation.
Aids in relaxation
Lavender oil is a popular ingredient used in bath soaks that is thought to aid relaxation, foster calmness, and promote improved sleep, notes Dr. Murphy-Rose. She also points out that lavender oil may serve as an antioxidant and antimicrobial. “Studies have shown oral Silexan, a main component of lavender oil, to be an effective anxiolytic [drug to reduce anxiety],” she adds.
One 2018 study published in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that bathing may help boost blood flow and supply more oxygen to organs. “Bath soaks may help to improve circulation as a warm bath can increase blood flow to the skin,” says Dr. Garshick. “Bathing can also reduce muscle and joint pains and ease muscle tension.”
The best bath soak products
If you’re ready to take a nice relaxing bath using bath soaks, here are some of the very best on the market, according to dermatologists.
Dr Teal’s Epsom Salt Bath Soaking Solution
Stacy Chimento, MD, a Florida-based board-certified dermatologist, is a fan of this Dr Teal’s Pure Epsom Salt infused with natural essential oils. “It’s a great way to soothe sore muscles and help speed the recovery of injury,” she says. When it comes to individuals with sensitive skin, she recommends using a small amount and working your way up to prevent irritation. This bundle offers a soaking solution with spearmint and eucalyptus and a separate soaking solution with lavender.
Aveeno Soothing Bath Treatment With 100% Natural Colloidal Oatmeal
This bath treatment from Aveeno is made of an oatmeal “powder” that dissolves easily into bath water, notes Dr. Murphy-Rose. “Oatmeal has anti-inflammatory properties making it soothing to itchy, sensitive skin and especially beneficial for sunburns, eczema, hives, and poison ivy, or similar dermatitis.”
AHAVA Dead Sea Mineral Bath Salt
The two main ingredients in this AHAVA bath salt soak are sea salt from the Dead Sea in Israel and lavender oil, both of which have soothing properties for the skin. “Lavender oil is thought to aid relaxation, foster calmness, and promote improved sleep,” says Dr. Murphy-Rose. “It may also serve as an antioxidant and antimicrobial.”