A bath is not just about getting squeaky clean. A good bath in the morning or evening can be calming or energising – as long as you do it right. “A perfect bath is one that stimulates blood supply to the skin, cleans it of germs, removes dead cells and leaves the skin toned and fresh,” says Siddharth Shankar of Mystic Salon and Spa in Delhi.
“Timing is important,” believes Joseph P Skaria, spa manager at The Spa at Shangri-La, Delhi. “It is good to have a bath early in the morning with cold water or late in the evening with hot water. Cold water rejuvenates and hot water soothes muscle aches,” he says.
STEP ONE: Massage
Contrary to what you believe, a good bath does not begin with turning on the tap. “Begin with stretching the body slightly, followed by an oil massage,” says Shankar. “If you can’t do this every day, aim for a massage at least twice a week,” adds Skaria.
Dr Meenakshi Joshi, consultant, ayurveda and aromatherapy, Artemis Health Institute, Gurgaon, agrees: “Taking a bath without a massage may wash away the natural oils of the body and lead to dry skin and early signs of ageing. In contrast, a bath after a massage washes off unabsorbed oil. Plus a massage will pacify the vata dosha, it is one of the best anti-ageing, anti-stress rituals.”
“A massage also boosts circulation, which adds sheen to the skin,” says Kapil Dhameja, co-owner of Blue Terra Spa, Delhi. “The oil used for massage should not be refined but cold pressed. The benefits of pure oil are incomparable in relation to refined oils.” Pure oils include virgin olive oil, sweet almond oil or essential oils such as lavender, eucalyptus or sandalwood. “In summer, use lighter oils like coconut, eucalyptus and jasmine. Heavier oils like almond are suited for winter,’’ says Dr Shehla Agarwal, consultant dermatologist, Mehak Skin Clinic, Delhi.
How much massage is required?
According to Dr Joshi, “The skin is made up of seven layers. To reach and activate the deepest layer of the tissue, roughly 800 matra time of tactile sensation or massage is required. Going by this theory, 15 minutes of massage is enough daily.”
STEP TWO: Exfoliation
It’s still not time to let water wash over your skin. The next step is exfoliation. “Exfoliating your body helps remove dry and dead skin cells, and allows your healthy skin to shine through,” says Dr Narmada Matang, head, medical services, Kaya Skin Clinic. “Exfoliate gently, using micro beads. Use a loofah, exfoliating gloves or brush, start at the soles of the feet and work your way up. Use gentle, circular motions. Rub rough spots with a pumice stone. Apply lotion containing alpha or beta hydroxy acids afterwards. This will continue the exfoliating process because the acids further abrade and remove dead skin cells. Do a full body exfoliation once a week for sure.”
STEP THREE: Perfume it
Also, perfume your bath. “A bath with essential oils is a most effective aromatherapy treatment. Essential oils can be used directly or mixed with a base oil for superior hydration,” says Anita Kaushal, founder-director, Tattva Spa, Delhi. “In the bath, the therapeutic action is twofold. The oil is absorbed into the skin, moisturising the dermis and entering the circulatory system. The aromas stimulate the brain and increase the sense of well-being.”
Kaushal suggests basil, chamomile, juniper, lavender, neroli and ylang ylang for a relaxing bath and cypress, eucalyptus, fennel, rosemary and thyme for a stimulating bath. For men she recommends basil, sage and sandalwood oils. Says Dr Joshi, “Jojoba or sunflower oil makes a nice base – take 2 tsp, add 4 drops each of lavender oil, grapeseed oil and lemon oils. Add this to an unscented bath gel, shake well and add to your tub. Soak well and scrub with a loofah. This will leave you fresh and perfumed.”
To get the best benefit from the oils, Dr Agarwal suggests, “For a tub bath, fill the tub with tepid water in summer and warm water in winter (not hot). Add 10 to 15 drops of the oil to it. For a bucket bath add 7 to 8 drops of oil in the last rinse. For a shower bath, drop a few drops of the oil on the floor, below the shower, and inhale the aroma as it rises up. Use warm water.”
STEP FOUR: Use shower gels
We’ve grown up using bars of soap, but the variety of shower gels now available lets you enjoy a new bathing experience. If you’re still not tempted, try soaps made from all-natural ingredients. Dhameja advises, “Choose your soap according to your skin type. People with dry skin should choose a soap with a moisturiser like glycerine.”
Adds Dr Agarwal, “Don’t use anti-bacterial soaps for bathing. They are drying in nature and also do away with essential microbes like sweat-reducing bacteria.” “A shower gel is preferable as it is convenient to use and doesn’t rip off natural oils. Also scrubbing the body with a loofah further lowers the vata component and helps in relieving stress,” says Dr Joshi.
STEP FIVE: Now dive in
How long should one stay in a bath? “Hop out after 20 minutes to preserve the skin’s natural moisture and oils,” says Dr Matang. Skaria adds, “The outer layer of the skin produces an oily substance called sebum. If you stay in water for too long, much of this is washed off and the skin starts to absorb water, hence the wrinkled skin.” Once you step out, dry off properly. “Often, we miss out on drying the natural creases of the body. This can lead to fungal or bacterial infections,” says Dr Agarwal. “Don’t dry the skin roughly, gently pat it dry. Leave some moisture on the skin so when you apply moisturiser the skin can absorb it fully and seal it in,” adds Dr Matang. Finally, meditate for a few minutes as that refreshes your mind.
For perfectly radiant and clean skin, exfoliate with 2 tbsp of oatmeal – only if you have oily skin.For normal skin, prepare a scrub of 1 tbsp (each) chickpea powder and milk powder, a pinch of turmeric, half a tsp sandalwood powder, 1 tsp lemon juice, 1 tsp glycerine and a pinch of baking soda. Make a soft paste by adding either fresh milk or olive oil (according to requirement and skin type). Rub this into your skin for 15 to 20 minutes before showering at least 3-4 times a week.
A massage with milk cream and a few drops of lemon helps to remove dirt and add shine to the skin. A few drops of glycerine added to bath water keeps the skin supple and moisturised.Aloe vera juice and turmeric paste on the skin are perfect for all seasons and a great way to get soft and radiant skin.
Cold water :Cold water is best in the morning, because it’s energising. However, essential oils do not work with cold water. Warm water is best in the evening, because it soothes aches and pains. It’s also best for releasing essential oils.
Hot water: Never. It’s an absolute no-no. While the healing powers of a warm bath go far beyond the regular body wash ritual, experts feels that taking a bubble bath more than twice a month is not recommended as bathing in hot water for too long can dehydrate the body and even dry up the skin.
Create the right environment
Switch off your phone. Keep the bathroom door locked so you can have complete mental peace.
Get some good foot mats and soaking towels to avoid spills and falls.
Use dim or soft lights in the bathroom. White lights are not ideal. Look for warm light.
Use aroma candles as they provide visual relaxation and their scent exudes peace.
Alternately, an infuser with light
fragrant aroma oil works wonders during a bath.
Put on soft healing music or chants for real relaxation.
Pot pourri bags are essential. They will keep the bathroom smelling fresh.
From HT Brunch, July 17
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