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
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
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
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)
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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