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Did You Know There's A Right & A Wrong Way To Take A Bath?

Even bathing has its own rules of etiquette.

Women's Health

I love my male friends. I really do. There are a billion reasons why, but one of them is because I find myself having the most random conversations with them about stuff that I probably wouldn't give too much credence to otherwise. Take bathing, for example. On the rest and relaxation tip, there aren't too many things that I enjoy more than soaking in the bathtub. Not only does it feel good, but it comes with all sorts of health benefits including the fact that it destresses us, reduces bodily inflammation, lowers our blood pressure, burns calories (some experts say even as much as a long walk does) and even strengthens our immune system.

As I was sharing some of this with a male buddy of mine, he wasn't moved in the least. He actually loathes baths and it's for one main reason. "Shellie, baths are gross. How are you getting clean when you are washing up in your own dirt?" I mean, he kinda has a point. Not a strong enough one for me to quit taking baths altogether, but definitely enough of one to make me do some digging around to see if I'm doing this whole bathing thing right. Come to find out, there were a few areas I could stand to improve on. Hmph. Bathing etiquette. Who knew?

And how can you know if you're bathing "right" or "wrong? Go down this checklist. How many things are you able to nod your head up and down about?

1. Thoroughly Clean Your Bathtub

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Brace yourselves because, out of all of the things that I'm about to share, this point will probably evoke the most "ewws".

Did you know that the average bathtub contains 100 times more germs than—wait for it—a trash can? A TRASH CAN.

This is why, before I even get into the rights and wrongs of bath time, it really is important to mention that bathtubs should be thoroughly cleaned after each and every use. If you'd like a few refresher tips on how to get yours to shine and sparkle, there are a couple of good tips here, here and here.

2. Decide What Type of Bath You Want to Take

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Not all baths are created equal. Yep, in their own special way, each one has a theme. Although there are dozens of combinations, the ones that come off the top of my head is the stress-relieving bath, the pain-decreasing bath, the "Calgon, take me away" bath, the insomniac bath and the romantic bath. Based on whatever it is that you're trying to achieve up in that tub of yours, that will let you know what to bring.

For instance, if you're taking a bath after working out (if this is the case, try and wait an hour; your body is "too hot" for hot water following exercising and cool water could "shock" your system), bring in some Epsom salt. If it's a bath to help you to sleep, some lavender oil could do you a world of good. Or, if you plan on bringing someone in there with you, a few rose petals and a bottle of wine—which you were probably going to use regardless—will set the scene perfectly.

3. Have Herbal Tea, DIY Body Wash and Essential Oils on Tap

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One of the best ways to get herbs into your pores is to put a couple of herbal tea bags into your bathwater (if you want to learn how to make some lavender tea bags, click here). If you're wondering what some of the best herbs for bathing are—chamomile will relax you; ginger root will detox you; comfrey leaf will heal wounds and reduce scars; calendula will relieve muscle spasms (if you drink it, it can help to regulate your period too) and peppermint will boost your immune system.

Two other things that you should have close by is body wash and some essential oils that you can drop into your bathwater. On the body wash tip, I'm a huge fan of making your own (some cool YouTube videos include "DIY African Black Soap Acne Wash, Body Wash, and Shampoo", "How to Make Homemade Natural Bodywash" and "How to Make Natural Body Wash | Honey Coconut Body Wash"). As far as oils go, eucalyptus will help to clear your sinuses; bergamot will relax you; a combo of sage and mint will help to balance you out; citrus will reenergize you and cloves and cedarwood will relieve stress.

4. Use the Right Kind of Soap (and Not Too Much of It)

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Is there such a thing as using too much soap? Indeed, there is. If you "over-wash", it can dry out your skin. Not only that, but sometimes too much soap can desensitize your skin to the ingredients in it to the point where the soap no longer fights off the germs that it's created to remove.

If you're wondering what kind of soaps will do your body good while you're taking a bath, Byrdie did a pretty cool write up on the best ones, based on your skin types and needs, for 2019. You can check it out here.

Speaking of feeling clean and smelling fresh, if you're still using a popular commercial brand of deodorant, another read that's worth your time is "How to Detox Your Armpits and Switch to a Nontoxic Deodorant". More and more reasons are coming out for why using "typical" deodorant is not good, but if you want to add another to your list, if you apply it right after getting out of the tub, it can dry out your armpits, making them all itchy and irritated. So yeah…don't do that (anymore).

5. Do Not Shave Immediately Before Bathing

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A mistake that I sometimes make on my pedicure appointment days is shaving my legs. The reason why this is such a no-no is because when you shave, it opens up your pores and sometimes creates nicks in your skin too. The bacteria and germs that are in your pedi or bathwater can get into those places; you definitely don't want that. Another problem that can arise from shaving before bathing is it could cause your pores to look dry and dull. So yeah, wait until you are out of the tub before pulling out your razor.

By the way, if you're in the market for a new all-natural shaving product, check out "7 Best Organic & Natural Shaving Creams For Men + Women".

6. Warm Up the Bathroom

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Here's something that I found to be interesting. Did you know that it's always best to have your bathroom temperature and the temp of your bath water to be as close to being the same as possible? The reason why is because our body is best able to perceive temperatures, in general, by comparing our internal temperature to that of the temps that are around us. I'm pretty sure you don't want it to be a sauna up in there, so around 70 degrees is pretty good.

7. Make Sure the Bathwater Is Lukewarm

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As far as bathwater temperatures go, anything above 39 degrees Celsius or 102.2 Fahrenheit can result in a psychological effect that could be counterproductive for your health. The reason why super hot water isn't the best is because the blood vessels on our skin's surface dilate when they touch hot water; that can sometimes result in a heavier blood flow than we need which could put a slight amount of strain on our heart. On the flip side, if the water is too cool, it narrows our blood vessels which isn't good either.

If you want to use cold water, reserve it for showers that are under seven minutes instead. It's a good final rinse on hair wash days because it will seal your cuticles, and a good final rinse for your skin because it can relieve sore muscles while closing up your pores.

8. Add Some Honey and/or Olive Oil to It

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If it seems like, no matter what you do, you can't seem to get your skin soft enough, try adding a ½ cup of honey and/or ¼ cup of olive oil. Honey is a natural humectant (it draws moisture into the skin from the water that it's around) and olive oil is loaded with all sorts of antioxidants and antibacterial properties that will protect your skin, seal in moisture and keep your skin baby soft smooth.

Just make sure to pour these things under a faucet of warm running water. That way, they will dissolve fully.

9. Cleanse, Then Remove Your Loofah/Sponge/Scrubber Immediately Following

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The thing that you're using to exfoliate your body is removing tons of bacteria and dead skin cells. That's why, once you're done using it, it's not good enough to simply run it underneath your faucet and hang it up. You need to wash your loofah, sponge or body scrubber and then place it somewhere where it can thoroughly dry out. Otherwise, you are setting yourself up to have a moldy situation on your hands.

As far as how to clean these items, some experts recommend soaking them in bleach for five minutes and then thoroughly rinsing them out. They also say that it's a good idea to replace your loofah or sponge every 3-4 weeks (how long have you had yours?), that you should never use it on your face or va-jay-jay and, to keep bacteria from creeping into your skin, you should definitely avoid using it for 1-2 days after you shave.

10. Time Your Towel Drying

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Your towel is going to dry you off and keep your warm, no doubt about that. But it's also going to remove any remnants of bacteria off of your skin; that's why it's not a good idea to keep it wrapped around you for longer than 15 minutes or so.

Between the dampness of your skin and the towel itself, that could trap in moisture and bacteria which is a breeding ground for more germs.

Also, make sure not to use the same towels for the rest of your life. If you're curious about why I say that, I wrote more about it in the piece "When Should You Replace Underwear, Make-Up, Bedding, Washcloths & Towels?".

BONUS: Considering Taking a Shower---First

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And then, a bonus, for my male friend and anyone who thinks like him. If, no matter what, you just can't seem to shake the thought of dirt and soap scum floating in your bathwater, you can always take a shower, clean the tub and then soak in the bath. That way you can feel clean and still reap the rewards of bathing. Hey, it's just a thought.

Now let me get off of this thing and take a bath. The right way.

Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:

Why I Am No Longer Using Washcloths & Loofahs To Shower

9 All-Natural Ways To Quench Dehydrated Skin

Love On Yourself With These 7 All-Natural DIY Vaginal Washes

7 Home Remedies That Can Help Cure Your Vaginal Infections

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

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