The Art (and Benefits) of the Bath Ritual
Close your eyes and picture this:
A steady stream of warm water gently caresses your skin. A slightly fizzy, tingling sensation hits you as bubbles fill the spaces between your toes. The scent of eucalyptus and French lavender fill the air, as well as the hot steam that you take in through your nose and out your mouth as you exhale. The water envelops your torso, and then your chest, as you sink deeper into the smooth ceramic basin. Last, the back of your neck greets the shoulder of the tub.
You may recognize this sequence of events as “bath time”, but did you ever think of it as an ancient wellness ritual?
Sweating, smoking, breathing and bathing; yes, bathing is ranked high on the list of rituals that have been venerated by leaders, from shamans to pharaohs, for their ability to alter physical states of being according to experts at National Geographic.
Among those leaders is Cleopatra, who apparently combined donkey milk, honey and rose oil to create luxurious baths full of lactic acid; an ingredient that gently exfoliates dead skin cells, leaving a youthful glow behind.
It’s no wonder Cleopatra is famous for her beauty regimes - her centuries-old hacks really work. Milk (especially that of goat), honey and rose are common ingredients in modern-day skin care products for their intensely hydrating and soothing properties, particularly for sensitive skin.
Nowadays, baths are accompanied by new tools and potions to soak in; essential oils (when diluted properly in a carrier oil), Epsom salts and gua sha tools are popular additions to modern wellness-inspired bathing rituals.
Today’s tubs are no run-of-the-mill bubble baths, according to Pinterest’s annual Predicts report. Bath time routines are becoming “the new spa days”, and the upgrades can be attributed to influences from ancient rituals like Cleopatra’s famous milk baths.
Plus, with the pandemic causing widespread stress, we’re motivated to carve out time for an extra special soaking experience. It’s true: Besides contributing to one’s beauty, bathing plays an important part in relaxation and cleansing too.
In 16th century Europe, very few people bathed because only noblewomen would have had the means to do so. Still, their bath water would be cold, and herbs, flowers and oil-based salves would be used for scent instead of soap.
In 2021, baths are more than a powerful means of relaxing and rejuvenating one’s body - they’re peace of mind. While COVID-19 continues to keep many households full, isolated periods of silence are welcome.
Because stress causes the muscles of the body to contract, experts say that a hot bath is an all-natural pain reliever for its ability to keep the muscles loose. Your brain and nervous system can benefit from bathing too, as there are a number of bath additions that nurture tranquility.
Some have naturally peaceful effects, like the heady perfume of a bath steeped in lavender and earl grey tea. There is absolutely no reason to resist Aphrodite’s bouquet of sweet vanilla, chocolate absolute, wild Bulgarian rose, and creamy coconut milk either - talk about a bath fit for the gods.
...Remember what we said about the sixteenth century noblewomen? It turns out, they were not allowed to bathe without attendants until 1870 when the bathroom as a concept came into play and solitary bathing emerged.
Now, with that in mind, this week, close the door, settle back into the serum-infused water, and remember: Bath time is your time.
A few of our aftercare faves:
- Faerhaven Whipped Body Butter for the most comfortable post-soak skin
- Way of Will Soothe + Cool Massage Oil for the best all over massage
- Fitglow Cloud Ceramide Body Cream for the gentlest sensitive skin hug
What's the most important part of your ritual? Let us know in the comments below!
Anastasia Barbuzzi is a freelance journalist and the founder of $HMONEY Radio, a podcast designed to make financial literacy approachable, attainable, and fun to talk about for millennial women. She is also the Digital Editor of Style Canada and a writer for Yahoo Canada. Anastasia is a lifelong bookworm and shutterbug, and you'll find her reporting on beauty, fashion, life, and style on the web and in print. A brand with a clean, green attitude and an almond milk cappuccino are a couple of her favourite things.