The Best Bath Soaks for Any Body Ailment—from Eczema to Achy Muscles
Slip into a tub brimming with the right ingredients, and relaxation is just the first of many benefits. You can fortify your skin with moisture, kick a cold, recharge your battery, and more. Before you step into the tub, however, dip a wrist in—test the water on the inside of your arm to make sure it's not too hot. It needs to be body temperature (98.6 degrees) to leave your skin supple, not stripped of moisture, says dermatologist Tiffany Libby. A steaming bath or shower can dry it out further and even damage its surface, especially during the winter.
And when you're finished? Do what doctors call the "soak and smear:" Unwind in your bath for 10 to 15 minutes, then rinse off in an equally lukewarm shower, pat dry, and smooth on lotion immediately to lock in hydration. "The water's warmth opens your skin's pores and cuticles, so ingredients can penetrate more deeply and effectively," says dermatologist Anna Guanche. If you can't quit your five-alarm bath or shower, this final step is even more crucial, says Libby. She suggests moisturizers with rich but light emollients, like sunflower-seed oil; try Cetaphil Ultra-Healing Lotion with Ceramides ($23.99, amazon.com). Before you get there, though, discover exactly what to put into your bath so you can get the most out of it. Ahead, our favorite soak recipes that, simply put, will make you feel better—inside and out.
To Quench Dry Skin
To Calm Sensitivity and Eczema
Sprinkle in colloidal oatmeal. "It reinforces the skin's top layer, which can weaken as the temperature and humidity drop," says dermatologist Rita Linkner. Try Aveeno Soothing Bath Treatment ($6.19, amazon.com).
To Ease Achy Muscles
To Boost Energy
Mix in mustard powder. It revs up circulation, curbing sluggishness. Naturopathic doctor Karuna Sabnani swears by Dr. Singha's Mustard Bath ($10.84, amazon.com)—or you can swipe a tablespoon from the pantry.
To Thwart a Cold
Add spruce oil at the first signs; the traditional cough suppressor helps soothe symptoms. Dr. Hauschka Spruce Warming Bath Essence ($14.67, amazon.com) "warms you to the bone," says Sabnani.
To Boost Radiance
Dissolve a half-cup each of honey and turmeric powder in water, and submerge yourself for 15 minutes. Linkner adopted this weekly ritual from Indian brides—specifically, her mom. "It makes you glow for 48 hours," she says. "Rinse yourself and the tub well afterward so you don't stain anything," then pat dry (with a dark towel), and lotion up.