Last updated: Dec 24, 2008
tk
Anna Williams
By Jolene Edgar
From Health magazine

Relaxing in a tub full of warm, sweet-smelling goodness seems like the ultimate indulgence. But these baths, from top spas across the country, are anything but frivolous—they nourish winter-worn skin, ease achy muscles, even inspire creativity.


Most soaks suit all skin types and can be made with a few simple ingredients from your pantry or local market. (Experts recommend using a cooking thermometer when testing the water temperature of these baths. Expectant moms: Talk to your doc before indulging.) So gather some rose petals, rosemary sprigs, and oranges—and get ready to create an ahh-inspiring soak.

tk
Anna Williams
Skin-soothing citrus bath
For your dull skin (and mood)
Adapted from the Citrus Spice Aroma Bath, Ritz-Carlton Spa, Orlando, Grande Lakes, Fla.

1 navel orange
1 cup whole cloves, divided
1 cup pulp-free orange juice
1/2 cup soy milk
2 teaspoons lavender essential oil

How to make it: Cut orange into even slices; insert 1/2 cup cloves into slices. Fill tub with 90°–95° water; add oranges, remaining 1/2 cup cloves, orange juice, soy milk, and lavender oil.

Why its good for you: Rich in antioxidants and vitamins A and C, citrus-fruit acids are natural exfoliants, says Suzanne Holbrook, spa director at the Ritz-Carlton Spa in Orlando, Grande Lakes, Fla. “They soften skin and prevent free radical damage too.” Circle a washcloth over your body while soaking to slough off dead cells loosened by the fruit acids. Cloves enhance the sensory experience.
tk
Anna Williams

Best time to soak: Anytime that you need a lift. Citrus scents have been shown to make people feel happier, and the lavender abates stress.

Short on time? Get energized with the citrus notes in Bliss Blood Orange and White Pepper Bath and Shower Gel ($24).

tk
Anna Williams
Hydrating milk bath
For sensitive skin
Adapted from the Hydrating Milk Bath, White Barn Inn and Spa, Kennebunkport, Maine

1 cup dry milk
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup dried lavender sprigs

How to make it: Combine dry milk and cornstarch in a bowl; pour mixture into 96°–101° running water. Once tub is full, scatter lavender sprigs in water.

Why its good for you: Milk contains lactic acid, a natural exfoliant that softens skin by dissolving rough patches. Its also loaded with moisturizing proteins and vitamins. “Cornstarch soothes skin and gives bathwater a silky feel,” says Melanie Valliere, spa director at White Barn Inn and Spa in Kennebunkport, Maine.
tk
Anna Williams

Best time to soak: When your skin is dull and flaky, or right before bed to encourage a pleasant nights sleep.

Bather beware: Milk can leave the tub slippery, so be sure to wash away any residue postbath.

Short on time? Rehydrate skin with the organic coconut milk in Fresh Body Market Foaming Milk Bath ($18). Bonus: It creates long-lasting bubbles, too.

tk
Anna Williams
Muscle-melting herbal bath
For the exercise enthusiast
Adapted from the Renewal Water Cure, Spa at Mohonk Mountain House, New Paltz, N.Y.

1/8 cup crushed basil, plus whole leaves for tub
1/8 cup crushed bay laurel, plus whole leaves for tub
1/4 cup crushed rosemary, plus whole sprigs for tub
1 ounce jojoba oil

How to make it: Combine crushed herbs in a muslin pouch, or put them in a piece of cheesecloth and tie off top. Place pouch into tub while it fills with 80°–90° water (temperature should be on the cool side to invigorate tired muscles); add jojoba oil. Add whole herbs for an aesthetically pleasing bonus.

Why its good for you: “The combination of cool water and warming herbs wakes the senses and alleviates aches,” says Barbara Stirewalt, spa director at Spa at Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, N.Y. Rosemary is a well-known analgesic. And bay laurel has proven antiseptic and antibacterial properties.
tk
Anna Williams

Best time to soak: After a long run or Pilates class, or when you feel sore.

Short on time? Soothe achy muscles with the chamomile flowers in Kiehls Mineral Muscle Soak Foaming Relaxing Bath With Sea Salts and Aloe Vera ($18.50).

tk
Anna Williams
Rejuvenating rose bath
For sexy, touchable skin
Crafted exclusively for Health by Green Valley Spa and Resort, St. George, Utah

3 drops rose essential oil
1 tablespoon sweet almond oil
1/4 cup rose water
2 tablespoons organic apple cider vinegar
1 handful of rose petals

How to make it: Drizzle rose and almond oils into 98° bathwater. Add rose water and apple cider vinegar; gently drop in rose petals.

Why its good for you: “Rose extracts have astringent and anti-inflammatory properties that allow them to tone and soften skin,” explains Annalee Allred, spa director at Green Valley Spa and Resort in St. George, Utah. Loaded with hydrating essential fatty acids, sweet almond oil helps skin maintain its moisture balance. And apple cider vinegar neutralizes the pH of the water, ensuring that the essential oils wont cause skin irritation.
tk
Anna Williams

Best time to soak: Anytime you want to feel sensuous.

Bather beware: Those with nut allergies should skip the sweet almond oil.

Short on time? Try Fresh Cannabis Rose Bath and Shower Gel ($28). Its loaded with moisturizing shea butter and antioxidant-rich vitamins.

tk
Anna Williams
Creativity-boosting bath
For an inspiration boost
Adapted from the Color Balance Bath, Greenhouse Spa, Arlington, Texas

2 capfuls (20–25 ml) Colour Energy Liquid Colour Bath in Violet (a fragrance-free mix of organic pigments, glycerin, and water)

How to make it: Add liquid to 98° water; surround tub with violet candles and flowers to bolster effects. Concentrate on color while soaking.

Why its good for you: The perks of this bath are more emotional than physical. “Color affects your mood, energy level, and overall sense of well-being,” explains Karla Smith, head technician at Greenhouse Spa in Arlington, Texas. Violet, our color of choice, is said to inspire creativity.
tk
Anna Williams

Best time to soak: When youre in a creative rut or need to make a big decision.

Bather beware: Used alone, Colour Energy Liquid Colour Bath wont stain your tub, say its manufacturers. (It didnt in our road test.) If mixed with other bath products, it may. If this happens, cleaning with baking soda and water will do the trick.

Short on time? Just drop a Try Me! Bath Ice Cream Ball in Lavender Lullaby ($8.50) in your tub for a quick de-stress soak.

tk
Anna Williams
Marine nourishing bath
For the chronic cold-catcher
Adapted from the Spirulina Bath, Spa Grande, Grand Wailea Resort Hotel and Spa, Maui, Hawaii

1/2 cup Nutrex Hawaiian Spirulina Pacifica Powder (available at grocery and health-food stores)
6 drops citrus essential oils, like bergamot and lime
12 small orchids

How to make it: Pour spirulina into water thats about 100°. Add oils; float flowers.

Why its good for you: Spiru­lina is a blue-green algae thats rich in proteins, antioxidants, vitamins, and essential fatty acids. When absorbed, it stimulates circulation and metabolism, flushing fluids from cells and replacing them with minerals to deliver soft, glowing skin, explains Cecilia Hercik, spa director at Spa Grande, Grand Wailea Resort Hotel and Spa in Maui, Hawaii. Spirulina also fights fatigue and bolsters the immune system.
tk
Anna Williams

Best time to soak: When you feel sluggish or sick, or when you have a hangover.

Bather beware: If you have shellfish allergies or a thyroid condition, this bath isnt for you; the iodine in spirulina can irritate skin and alter your thyroid level.

Short on time? Get uplifted by the lemon scent in Weleda Citrus Creamy Body Wash ($15).