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Skincare Sunday: A bath with benefits

Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, 1990Photograph Cinetext/Touchstone/Moviestore Collection LTD

Far more than just a way to get clean, bathing offers a range of beauty-boosting benefits. NEWBY HANDS explains how to make the most of your time in the tub


The perfect time to polish

Instead of using grainy scrubs that tend to leave bath water gritty, my favorite way to ‘polish’ skin is to mix some fine table salt (sea salt is too scratchy) with a great body oil. For evening, Rodin Lavender Body Oil is pure skin- and soul-soothing luxury. Massage the mixture firmly all over your body, then get in the bath. The hot water causes the salt to dissolve (salt water deep-cleanses the pores), while the oil remains on your skin, leaving it soft, nourished and gleaming. For a more intensive treatment, run your bath a little hotter than usual and enjoy a really good 20-30 minute soak – it literally saturates the top layer of dry skin, so you can then slough it off using a textured mitt or cloth. This is brilliant pre-vacation, but don’t do it too often – once a month is enough. It’s similar to the technique used in the famous Russian baths or the Middle Eastern hammams.

Relax back

Hot water is amazing for releasing muscle tension, just make sure that you lie deep enough in the bath so that your shoulders and neck are totally immersed. It sounds simple, but according to one back expert I spoke to, it can make a big difference and help ease chronic tension. Adding a good handful of magnesium flakes to your bath water (and spritzing on an oil post-bath) will also help to deeply relax muscles and prevent restless legs at night. Make sure you do it post-workout, as exercising uses your body’s store of magnesium to release energy.

The essential oil

Everyone reaches for lavender oil when they want a good night’s sleep. However, while it’s great to calm a racing mind, it’s not the best scent to achieve a deep sleep. Aromatherapy Associates Deep Relax Bath & Shower Oil uses the more earthy, grounding scents of vetivert (a natural sedative), chamomile and sandalwood, which act like natural knock-out drops. If you mix your essential oils with a spoonful of milk, it helps to emulsify them, dispersing them more easily through the bath water (rather than just sitting on the surface).