I’m a bath person at the best of times. I love a good shower, but if I had to choose between a bathtub and a great shower in my house, I’d always pick a bath. And my bath ratio has gone waaaaaay up since March, both morning and night. There’s something about soaking into a hot tub, even for 15 minutes, that brings my emotional temperature down even as it brings my body heat up.
I think I’m not alone in adding baths to my self-care regime in the uncertainty and just plain weirdness of the past several months. Last week, my friend Elena noted the same thing on facebook, and asked people to chime in on “what makes the perfect bath?”
So my gift to your self-care this Thursday: inspiration for the perfect bath.
Start with: the water. Have some. Have it be super hot. And have it smell good or be oily or bubbly depending on your preferences. My personal favourite is small bath bombs from Saltspring Soapworks. Other suggestions from Elena’s post include a squirt of shower gel as the tub is running, epsom salts, sweet orange oil, lavendar oil, l’occitane lavender foaming bathclary sage oil and Johnson’s soothing vapour bath.
Add: Beverages: I myself am not allowed to bring drinks into the tub any longer after dropping two cups of coffee (and breaking the mugs) and a blueberry smoothie into the bath in recent months. Elena’s friends mentioned water bottles, wine, cheap red wine, scotch, really good scotch, gin and tonic with an ice water chaser, and mint tea. One said “I often have a beer or glass of wine in the bath, but I also always have a big bottle of cold water to drink.” I like a person who brings a backpack to the bath experience.
Surround yourself with sounds and light: create your perfect environment of soothing and solace. Scented candles. Music. Silence. Cat sitting on the toilet, staring at you.
Add diversions: books are the time-honoured classic, with waterproof e-books like Kobos making their way into the soak these days. Some of Elena’s peeps talked about video diversions like youtube or Oprah. Others read the news on their phones. I am well known for being That Weirdo who reads in the shower, and I translate that into the bath as well. (Once you decide it’s fine if the book gets wet, whole worlds open up! Right now I’m reading Above All Things, by Tanis Ridout, in the shower. Novels with some good straightforward plot are perfect for reading in chunks and taking me out of my day to day for a few minutes every morning.
My search for bath images also suggested some people like the diversion of a discreet sex toy in their tubs. I’ll just leave that suggestion here.
Infuse with: comfort. A lot of people like a handtowel or washcloth for wiping their hands or their sweaty brows. Bath caddies or trays or nearby stools will hold all of your accoutrements. Bath pillows also remain popular.
Drizzle with chocolate. Despite the diversity of beverages, chocolate was the only food that showed up on Elena’s post. Curated, careful chocolate, from the looks of it: “a single piece of amazing chocolate.” (I know I’d just drop it in the bath, and like a blueberry smoothie, the truly desirable becomes very gross when splooged in the bath).
Finally, be ready to head back to the world. Some swear by a quick cool shower for “shiny hair.” Others like a deeply comforting transitional object like a huge bath sheet or the perfect robe. I recently acquired the perfect towel — a turkish towel on the outside and absorbent terry on the inside. Hint: brooklinen also has robes made of this “hammam” fabric.
I was lucky enough to have two visits to an historic hammam when I was in Istanbul a few years ago, and nothing will replace having two people sluice you and bubble you and scrub you in a marble room with gold taps. But until we can ever travel again, I will keep bombing scents into my bathwater and agonizing over my husband climbing Everest in the shower, in a brief moment away from the world.
What about you? What’s the perfect bath for you?
Fieldpoppy is Cate Creede, who has a lot of lumpy books.