Despite having exclusively used a shower for the past five years, I will always be a bath person at heart. And since we ‘got the bathroom done’, I can at long last return to my natural habitat – wallowing in a deep, probably-too-hot bath of deep water and bubbles.
Our bath was previously a rusting enamel hulk which took hours to fill up and never felt warm. Now we’ve embraced the joys of acrylic, the taps work properly and it’s time to indulge in hours of serious soaking – preferably with some diverting reading material (Agatha Christies are always good, or a copy of Style – Vogue’s too heavy to hold above sud level).
Which isn’t to say I don’t enjoy an invigorating shower – it is lovely to blast away the dirt and stress of the day under a steaming gush of water and in the summertime a cool shower is refreshing, but a bath, ahhhh, a bath, where you can languish for hours, ‘marinating in your own filth’ (as someone, I can’t remember who, maybe it was me, revoltingly put it) – that’s the ultimate in relaxation as far as I’m concerned.
My favourite shower gels: Korres' Jasmine (nearly finished) and Japanese Rose (up next!)
And as the weather’s turned all autumnal these past few days, it’s become apparent that bath season is upon us. But horror of horrors, a quick survey of my bathroom revealed that I have no bath foam. Shrieks! It’s time to go shopping.
I firmly believe that spending a bit more on everyday luxuries is worthwhile because it makes mundane daily tasks a little bit more pleasurable. I would rather forgo nights in the pub or clothes shopping and spend my money on posh teabags and expensive shower gel instead, because I use those things day in, day out. Occasionally I will buy a cheapo shower gel in the weekly supermarket shop, then curse myself as I realise I hate the smell and will have to frugally, resentfully use it up until the bottle’s empty.
So these days I only buy Korres shower gel because it’s amazing: the scents are intoxicating (fig, jasmine and Japanese rose are my favourites), you only need a little to get a good lather going, plus it makes your skin feel lovely and soft afterwards - my upper arms don’t have those pesky little bumps that they used to and I’m convinced it’s because I’ve been showering exclusively with this stuff for months now. And all Korres products are free from sulphates, parabens and all that jazz.
If I were to deviate, it would only ever be for Magno. I’ve been using this Spanish showergel since I was a kid and I love the complex, masculine, spicy scent. It smells like holidays and Spain to me and is totally transporting. Try it.
£4.95 for 600ml, rgarciaandsons.com
But I digress. Let’s look at bath oils, foams, salts and milks – some people like lots of bubbles, others prefer perfectly clear water with a luxurious oil in it, or to go the Cleopatra route and luxuriate in a softly milky bath. Here are my recommendations for optimum bath time wallowing – some are pricey, to be used sparingly when you’ve had the Worst Day Ever perhaps, while others are bona fide everyday treats.
So chic! So French! L'Occitane's lavender and lemon foam baths will create fragrant foam while soothing the skin, getting you squeaky clean and making your bathroom look pretty with their minimal packaging.
Make like Cleo in a tub brimming with Elemis' Milk Bath - I love this British brand and their spa-level products.
Elemis Skin Nourishing Milk Bath, £42, cultbeauty.co.uk
E45 is the ultimate stuff for anyone with sensitive skin, eczema etc. It's so kind and gentle and soothing, it's just lovely, and I actually really like the plain blue and white bottle too.
E45 Dermatological Emollient Bath Oil 250ml, £5.49, boots.com
Trust good ol' Burt's Bees to come up with a cute solution to aches and pains. These bath crystals will dissolve in warm water allowing the revitalising lemon oil, rosemary,and eucalyptus to banish tension and lull you into a relaxed state (just don't drop Murder On The Orient Express.)
Burt's Bees Theraputic Bath Crystals 454g, £10.99, boots.com
I'm a sucker for the old fashioned, apothecary-style packaging that Kiehl's does so well and it's handy that the contents of their chic bottles are just as impressive. This gently foaming bath blends sea salts with lavender and aloe vera to soothe and condition the skin.
Kiehl's Lavender Foaming-Relaxing Bath with Sea Salts & Aloe Vera, 250ml , £18, johnlewis.com
Bathtime doesn't get more luxurious than when you sling some of REN's Moroccan Rose Otto bath oil in the tub - just imagine, the air scented with a heady, Turkish Delight fragrance, skin will be indecently soft and scented with roses... Incredible.
REN Moroccan Rose Otto Bath Oil, £30, renskincare.com
The Costes is a painfully hip Parisian hotel on the rue St-Honoré where fashion and eurotrash types gather to pose and preen and generally have a groovy time. These sexy little sachets of 'bath flakes' will help you create such an atmosphere in your very own bathroom. Think of them as the Carine Roitfeld of bath products, if you will.
Costes bath flakes, £21, cultbeauty.co.uk
Compagnie de Provence is such a cool brand - all their soaps and body products use natural ingredients from the south of France, the packaging is clean and simple and the smells are amazing. Plus it doesn't cost a fortune. I like the fresh, sea-salty smell of the Mediterranee fragrance, but there are plenty more to choose from.
Compagnie de Provence Foam Bath Med Sea, 300ml , £10, johnlewis.com
OMG, Diptyque does bath oil?! This has kind of made my day, and yes I know how sad that sounds. Look it has a dinky little pipette so you can drip the teeniest amount in the bath and make it last foreverrrr...
Diptyque Huile Corps Précieuse Bath/Body Oil, 125ml , £40,johnlewis.com
Look at this Floris bottle - can't you imagine it sitting in the Queen's bathroom, er, not that we want to imagine the Queen, argh, anyway! It's so elegant I would shamelessly fill it up with cheaper bath foam once it was empty.
Floris Lily of the Valley Bath Essence, 50ml, £55, johnlewis.com
So, are you a fan of long soaks in the tub, or are you repelled by the whole 'marinating/filth' thing?
This article originally appeared on xoJane.co.uk.