5 Best Bath Soaks for Better Relaxation
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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.
Why a bath soak is therapeutic
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-honored 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. (These are the best essential oils for sleep.)
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.” (Here are other magnesium benefits that can save your life.)
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. (Try these itchy skin home remedies.)
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 also points out that lavender oil may also 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. (Check out these other lavender oil uses.)
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.” (Here are some remedies for muscle soreness.)
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
$20, 2-pack, 3-pound bags
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.” (Learn the best eczema cream for your type of eczema.)
AHAVA Dead Sea Mineral Bath Salt
$24, 32 ounces
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.” (Try lavender and these other essential oils for energy.)
Vertly CBD-Infused Bath Salts
$29, 7 ounces
This mix of bath salts from Vertly contains several ingredients including salts, lavender, baking soda, glycerin, sulfur, and CBD. “The anti-inflammatory properties of CBD have been used for ages to ease achy joints and sore muscles,” says Dr. Murphy-Rose. “It can also be soothing for skin like oatmeal and milk.” (These are the best CBD creams for pain.)
Dove Glowing Ritual Mango and Almond Scent Bath Salts
$6, 28 ounces
“This sulfate-free mild foaming formula offers an invigorating scent while still being gentle on the skin as it uses the patented moisture-renew blend technology, leaving the skin feeling soft and smooth,” says Dr. Garshick. To enhance this Dove bath soak, she recommends pairing it with a Dove Glowing Ritual Bath Bomb for a full sensorial experience.
Next, here are the self-care health products to buy when you need “me time.”
- Blair Murphy-Rose, MD, New York City dermatologist and Clinical instructor at NY Presbyterian Hospital – Weill Cornell Medical Center
- Marisa Garshick, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Medical Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery (MDCS) in New York
- Stacy Chimento, MD, a Florida-based board-certified dermatologist
- International Journal of Dermatology: "Bathing in a magnesium-rich Dead Sea salt solution improves skin barrier function, enhances skin hydration, and reduces inflammation in atopic dry skin"
- Journal of Drugs in Dermatology: "Anti-inflammatory activities of colloidal oatmeal (Avena sativa) contribute to the effectiveness of oats in treatment of itch associated with dry, irritated skin"
- Journal of Drugs in Dermatology: "Colloidal Oatmeal (Avena Sativa) Improves Skin Barrier Through Multi-Therapy Activity"
- Scientific Reports: "Efficacy and safety of lavender essential oil (Silexan) capsules among patients suffering from anxiety disorders: A network meta-analysis"
- Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine: "Physical and Mental Effects of Bathing: A Randomized Intervention Study"