We love a good bath and not just for the obvious hygienic reasons! What we love is its ability to be a DIY health and beauty treatment in one. According to whichever concoction we decide to mix with our water, a bath can be detoxing, relaxing or reviving. This is in fact how our love affair with ‘bathing’ began historically: long before it became the scented bubble bath that is common now, bathing was first and foremost known as a ‘Hydrotherapy’, a therapeutic treatment for body and mind.
Hydrotherapy (water therapy) involves using water to ‘treat’ diseases and ease physical pain: this can include anything from steam baths and compresses to the use of water sprays, and bathing at a range of temperatures. It is one of the oldest forms of medical treatment, made popular by the Romans who built baths around various ‘hot springs’ and used these as a place for health and socializing. Of course, baths were also beautifying, as demonstrated by Cleopatra’s penchant for skin-softening milk baths. Bathing then lost its appeal in Medieval times, when the church despised the immorality of bathhouses and medical opinion actually discouraged taking baths: astonishingly, they believed that bathing would ‘weaken the organism and cause infections or diseases’.
In Europe, bathing had a revival only in the 1800s, when word spread of the therapeutic properties of sea-salt water and people would flock to the seaside to cure all sorts of conditions. In the 19th century, bathing scenes were also de rigueur in classicist, realist and impressionist art, and baths truly became temples of leisure. Then, in the first half of the 20th century, some institutions began installing communal baths to help treat children who had suffered muscular, skeletal and nerve damage as a result of diseases such as tuberculosis and polio. It is only in the second half of the 20th century that spas became the beautifying havens they are known as today. Let’s take a look at some of our favourite types of bathing rituals in more depth.
THE SPIRITUAL BATH
A ‘spiritual’ cleansing bath is believed to cleanse the soul and rid the self of negative influences. Although they are not as widely known today, ‘spiritual’ baths are a wonderful way to cleanse the body and mind. Inspired by spiritual bathing, Michelle Roques O’Neil from Therapie has created the Joie Uplifting Bath Infusion: ‘A soulful nod towards ancient traditions of spiritual bathing in which body and mind are nourished in equal measure.’ This uplifting and blissful aromatherapeutic infusion offers a valuable lift when you’re feeling a little flat or just plain down in the dumps. Use this aromatic dust to lift your spirits, whilst indulging your body in a lush combination of traditional powders that tone, soften and protect. This bath soak has been delicately infused with an uplifting blend of wild rose, tangerine and geranium for a beautiful scent. Other unique cleansing ingredients include Mysore sandalwood powder, a spiritual wood, great for reducing inflammation; frankincense resin, has an illustrious reputation for its capacity to elevate you out of the doldrums into a place of security; Himalayan cedarwoods, sweet woody balsamic aroma is often used in sacred incenses and is emotionally calming and soothing; pink clay to cleanse and detoxify skin and rose quartz crystal powder, to promote peace of mind and inner healing. Use when feeling a little flat and down in the dumps – after inhaling and relaxing in this unique combination you emerge from the water uplifted and full of joie de vivre!
Another way to have a spiritual bathing ritual is to make like our ancestors and burn incense while you bathe. Historically, incense has been used to uplift the spirit, heighten the senses, and bring peace and harmony to the mind. The Incausa Bath & Meditate Set includes 4 Mixed handmade Breu Resin incense blends, Palo Santo wood sticks and with a small batch aged-Essential Oil Vegan Soap Bar.
THE HERBAL BATH
The Chinese have been known to use medicinal herbs for over 5000 years. Later in 1500 BC Ancient Egyptians and Babylonians would also use herbal baths and ointments for health and cosmetic purposes. Then, lavender became a favourite of the Romans. Today, it is known that the anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and analgesic properties of aromatic herbs are released when steeped in hot water. As a result, herbal baths can be effective remedies for anything from stress, to muscular aches and pains and are also thought to work as treatments for skin problems such as eczema and psoriasis.
Fighting off a cold? Try another #CONTENTapproved favourite – the Therapie Roques O’Neil Protect Bath & Shower Essence – just pour one cap-full if this essential oil mixture into running warm water and soak for ten – fifteen minutes to soak up all the goodness! It can help with colds and flu, blocked sinuses, coughs and inflammation thanks to anti-viral oils like immune-supporting lemon myrtle, warming ginger and pepper and fortifying tangerine, amongst others.
THE SALT BATH
Again, China seemed to be at the forefront of this trend in 2700 BC, as they were mining and using salt for health purposes. Later in Egypt, Cleopatra soaked in the mineral-rich waters of the Dead Sea for a softer and smoother skin. Then in Greek times, Hippocrates promoted bath salts for its healing properties: from sore muscles, to arthritis and acne. Used as a therapy it is known as Thalassotherapy (from the Greek “Thalassa” meaning sea). In Europe, this became popular again in the 19th century and has been ever since. In fact, the ocean contains all the vital elements, vitamins, mineral salts, trace elements and amino acids we need. It is also considered that the magnesium content in seawater may just have a calming effect on our nerves, which would explain why we find seawater bathing so relaxing and restorative!
To soak in the benefits of Thalassotherapy at home, get hold of Isla Apothecary Himalayan Detox Bath Soak or Therapie by Roques O’Neil Himalayan Detox Salts; they contain the powerful trace minerals of magnesium, calcium and potassium, essential to the human body in supporting nutrient absorption, improved circulation, and balancing body pH. Isla Apothecary’s Himalayan Detox Bath Soak natural and organic formula consists of patchouli, which encourages new cell growth and soothes problematic skin; sweet orange and grapefruit oils to balance and cleanse; and French pink clay to hydrate, rejuvenate and restore a natural glow. It’s an important ally for mature skin and the perfect antidote to stress, fatigue and jet lag, thanks to its mineral content and relaxing and beautiful aroma.
And after your bath, follow by slathering on some of our #CONTENTapproved favourites for soft, smooth skin all over:
De Mamiel Salvation Body Oil is a revitalizing formula that has been created using natural and organic essential oils including baobab, rosehip and coconut for bright and healthy skin. An infusion of ylang ylang, rosewood and jasmine will leave floral fragrance on your skin. Team with De Mamiel Soothe Oil if you are still feeling anxious after your bath. The consoling blend of herbs, watermelon seed oil and passionflower oil provides a welcome sense of balace.
AUM Aromatherapy Unify Body Oil & Meditate Body Oil were developed to support the sense when you need to take a break from life. With Patchouli as its base note, Unify balances body and soul while soothing the skin with sandalwood. Meditate harnesses the calming properties of lavender and rejuvenates the skin with grape and the cleansing action of Cajeput.
Nuori Vital Body Balm & Nuori Perfecting Body Oil: We’re crushing hard on this Scandinavian brand, centred around the concept of ‘freshness’. The body balm is an intensely hydrating treatment that moisturises the epidermis and restores skin elasticity thanks to avocado oil and shea butter. Meanwhile, The luxurious body oil is packed with grape seed, apricot kernel and avocado oils – so it’s delicately scented and nourishing.
Nathalie Bond Lavender and Chamomile Body Oil & Nathalie Bond Rose Geranium and Patchouli Body Oil are gorgeous natural oils by one of our favourite Great British Beauty brands: a blend of hydrating jojoba oil, apricot kernel oil and rosehip oil. The Lavender and Chamomile is great to use at night to help you relax before bed, while we love the Rose Geranium and Patchouli to start the day feeling great.