Everyone enjoys a long hot soak in the bath, but does it have to be in water? While this question may not have crossed your mind before, there’s actually a well-documented history of the health benefits of bathing in something other than water.
Here, bath-loving writer Mike James, working with the Bathroom Discount Centre gives his top five wacky baths. Keep an open mind!
1. Milk & Honey
OK, this one’s nothing new; we’ve all heard the stories of Cleopatra’s preference for bathing in milk and honey – donkey milk, actually. If you want to imitate the famous Queen’s beauty secret of ‘eternal youth’ for an indulgent milk & honey bath at home, mix half a cup of honey with 3 cups of milk (cow’s milk is a perfectly good substitute if you don’t have a donkey to hand) and add 5 tablespoons of almond or olive oil. Then pour the mixture into your bath.
Milk contains lactic acid which is packed full of skin soften properties, and bathing in the white stuff will soothe your skin and make it feel like satin. Honey has been used as a healing agent for thousands of years. Its natural antioxidant properties will help detox your body while you soak while moisturising and soothing dry skin.
Believe it or not, in ancient Roman times beer baths were used to sweat out toxins, exfoliate skin and infuse the body with vitamins, in an effort to achieve clearer skin and a boosted immune protection. The beautifying and health giving benefits of beer are now being rediscovered. Beer has antibacterial properties that protect from infection. The yeast helps to slow down sebum production and reduce potential acne breakouts while killing the bacteria that cause acne and maintaining the skin’s healthy pH balance. Hops have powerful medicinal properties and can help with psoriasis and similar skin conditions.
For a beer bath at home, add 2 cups of beer to a warm bath and relax. By all means, feel free to drink some of the amber nectar. Surely, the benefits apply to the inside as well as the outside!
For a professional beer bath, head to the Czech Republic which is fast becoming the go-to destination for beer spas – the latest wellness craze! Curative properties are said to include improving hair and skin complexion, relieving muscle tension, warming up joints and supporting the immune system.
Can you think of anything more indulgent than bathing in molten chocolate? Cocoa, it turns out, is good for your skin. It contains anti-oxidants that protect the skin from free radical damage, making it soft and supple and glowing. Chocolate also detoxifies the skin and increases the blood circulation in your body. But there’s more.
Chocolate is known to have stress-relieving properties, and it causes the body to release ‘feel good’ hormones. The anti-oxidants and flavonoids help lower cholesterol and balance your blood sugar. It’s good for the heart and for the brain – what more could you possibly want?
To prepare the bath, melt the chocolate or add unsweetened cocoa powder to a little warm water and mix to a paste in a bowl. You can whip the mixture with milk for a frothier, bubblier consistency. Then add to your bathwater and wait for the delicious chocolatey aroma to entice you into the tub.
Mud baths date back to the time of the Celts and Romans 2,000 years ago. They’re an ancient health and beauty secret used to treat a variety of issues including muscle aches and joint stiffness, arthritis and pain in the body. Mud can also help to remove toxins from the skin and is beneficial for oily and acne prone skin.
Mud from the moorlands of Austria, Hungary, and the Czech Republic is particularly rich in vitamins and minerals – which is why local spas prefer to use it. Dead Sea mud has a high concentration of minerals, while Fuller’s Earth and bentonite are great for oily skin.
For a home mud bath, fill the tub with hot water, then add 2 cups of your mud of choice. Break the mud clumps up and swirl it around until dissolved, then slowly lower yourself into the tub until the whole body (not the head!) is immersed. Soak for a maximum of 20 minutes, then rinse down under a warm shower and rest for at least ½ hour.
5. Red Wine
Have you heard of vinotherapy? It’s a somewhat controversial treatment that claims to be able to boost circulation, reduce cellulite and invigorate the body. Available at exclusive spas, particularly in France, the USA and Japan, treatments involve a hot red wine bath.
The health benefits of drinking red wine are well-known. Red grapes contain flavonoids that are helpful in reducing the risk of heart disease, while anti-oxidant phytochemicals offer protection against some cancers. Vinotherapists believe that applied externally, wine can also help shift cellulite, tone the body and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
The scientific community is highly sceptical of these claims – but who knows, it might be fun trying?
Disclosure: This is guest post from Mike James
– not sure I’m ready to try these wacky ways to take a bath