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bath ritual

How to Design the Most Relaxing Bath Ritual Ever

Soak away your stress.

By: Hannah Baxter

“The easiest thing, most healthy, and best-feeling, is to just draw yourself a bath.”

Shannon Davenport, the founder of Esker Beauty, has just read my mind. We’re talking about our respective bath rituals, which—as two women desperately trying to manage anxiety and stress during a global pandemic—have become more important (and elaborate) than ever.

Even prior to social distancing, I’ve never really understood people who dislike baths. But in America—and New York especially, where bathtubs are scarce—our relationship to bathing and body care is slowly undergoing a revolution of sorts. In a society that prioritizes working to the point of exhaustion, with few leisurely vacations or options for paid parental leave, it’s not hard to see why we’ve avoided sinking into a tub in favor of a quick, efficient shower.

Davenport explains that our culture just doesn’t equate baths as a part of our overall health, like they do in Japan, Korea, or Iceland. “Here we’re more like, take a shower, get clean, scrub yourself.” Bathing (or more likely, showering) is more of a means to an end here, rather than a relaxing ritual—much less a communal one (and if you’ve never been to a bathhouse, you are seriously missing out).

But with opportunities to safely destress and unwind few and far between as of late, our collective view of baths is shifting. “Now more than ever, our goal is to try to create that emotional connection with your bathroom,” says Davenport of her brand’s ethos. “[Baths have been] almost this sanitized experience as opposed to being more of a sensual experience. So what do you need to do to make it beautiful, to make it appealing? It’s not just a place where you go and get clean, shave, and do whatever things you have to do for your grooming. It [can] feel more like a space you want to be, and it’s a space that you go feel good.”

We could clearly all use more moments of relaxation these days. So if you’re newly curious about baths—whether as your means of bathing or a chance to focus on your physical and mental well-being—these are some of the things you’ll need to maximize your time in the tub.

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Esker Dry Brush

$18

If you’ve never dry-brushed before, you can find all the tips and information about its benefits right here. It’s one of my favorite ways to get rid of rough skin and leave you feeling soft and smooth, especially this time of year. This will be part of your pre-bath ritual for years to come.

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West Elm Aquala Bathtub Tray

$40

Nothing beats a bathtub tray. Where else would you store that glass of wine, your favorite book, and (guilty) your phone during your tub session? I love that this has the support bar to prop up your entertainment. Trust me, you’ll be glad you invested in one of these.

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Surya Calming Bath Soak

$35

There is nothing so satisfying as pouring the entire contents of this bath soak (all 3.25 pounds) into your tub and easing your tired limbs into it afterward. The three salts replicate the ocean’s salinity—and the salinity of your body’s cells—for a truly tranquil experience. The notes of lavender and ashwagandha are popular in Ayurvedic rituals for their calming properties and will leave you feeling more relaxed than you have been in months.

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Susanne Kaufmann Mallow Blossom Bubble Bath

$70

Classic bubbles more your speed? This mallow-extract formula is anti-inflammatory, making it perfect for irritated skin, while pine oil soothes tired muscles. The extra-fine foam won’t dry out your skin, either.

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Uma Pure Calm Wellness Bath Oil

$80

The blend of sandalwood, jasmine, vetiver, and chamomile creates a scent so soothing it almost doesn’t seem possible that you’re actually at home and not at the bathhouse. The jojoba and rosehip oils drench your skin in moisturizing emollients so you’re left feeling supple and smooth.

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Orris Le Soliste

$21

There’s something extra sensual about using a bar soap in the bath, in my opinion. If you can bear to use this gorgeous soap, the fermented rice water (a staple in Japanese bathing traditions) will douse your skin in nourishing amino acids and vitamins E and B.

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Bathing Culture Fingernail Scrub Brush

$15

Hear me out—if you love long nails, you need to invest in a fingernail brush to keep them clean and tidy. What better time to show your nails some love than in the bath? This one is biodegradable and made from wood and sisal cactus fiber bristle.

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Weezie Women’s Long Robe

$175

There is nothing more luxe than a fluffy white robe. In case you need an invitation to lounge around all day following your bath, consider this it.

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Skims The Slide

$78

Just look at these fuzzy slides—they are the epitome of pure relaxation in shoe form. The camel-colored faux fur is beyond cozy and ideal for once you finally decide to leave your bath.

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Frontgate Resort Cotton Bath Towels

$22-$64

Whoever said you need to drop a ton of money on extra-soft (and extra-long) bath towels never met this set.

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Byredo Woods Scented Candle

$85

Sure, you’re not swimming in a hot spring on the side of an Icelandic mountain, but this earthy cedarwood candle will get you as close as possible these days.

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W&P Porter Glass

$25

You know you deserve a glass of wine or your favorite cocktail in the bath. I recommend scooping up two of these and filling one with water—depending on how long you let yourself brew, you’ll need the extra hydration.

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iS Clinical Youth Body Serum

$120

Dry winter weather isn’t going anywhere for a while, so adding a body serum to your post-bath routine can help ward off irritation. This formula is packed with hyaluronic acid to hydrate, plus extremozymes, which are clinically proven to repair components of skin DNA (leaving you with stronger, more resilient skin).

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Hanahana Beauty Lavender Vanilla Shea Body Butter

$28

You’ve never experienced softer skin than with Hanahana shea body butters. The lavender and vanilla scent will have your bathroom resembling a professional spa in no time. Treat yourself with a full-body application—good luck keeping your partner’s hands off you.

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