Ease winter's chill and relax the old-fashioned way—with a sumptuous bath. We've gathered these simple feel-good strategies from top spas to make your soak time pure bliss.
Before bathing, use a gentle treatment to remove dull, flaky skin, recommends Faye Hutchins, spa manager at Devil's Thumb Ranch in Tabernash, Colorado. Exfoliating helps stimulate lymph and circulatory systems and preps the body to absorb any minerals and oils added to the bath. Mix cornmeal with almond or olive oil to create a textured scrub. Apply generously; stroke in the direction of your heart to gently exfoliate skin.
>> Gauge temperature
Set the temperature and soak time according to your goal. To detoxify, Hutchins recommends hot water (100 to 110 degrees) for 10 minutes because heat encourages skin to eliminate unwanted toxins. For a soothing soak, bathe for 20 to 30 minutes in warm water (96 to 100 degrees) to calm the muscles. For an energy boost, try cool water (80 to 92 degrees) for 10 minutes.
>> Season well
Barbara Hagen, treatment supervisor at the Spa Torrey Pines in La Jolla, California, extols the benefits of infusing bathwater with pure essential oils and unrefined sea salt. Basil, clary sage, lemongrass, and orange oils soften skin and prepare it to absorb the minerals from the unrefined salt—including iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and zinc. Add 2 to 3 drops of oil directly to the water.
>> Sip and dip
A warm bath rapidly elevates the body's core temperature, resulting in increased perspiration and moisture loss. Drink plenty of water before, during, and especially after you bathe. Hagen suggests giving plain water a healthy zip by tossing lemon or cucumber slices into your glass. Or treat yourself to a cup of tea.