Some time ago, in a land and mall far away, my dad purchased a bath bubble machine. The bubble machine, an unnecessary life enhancer he probably got at the Sharper Image, seems like an electrical hazard now that I’m looking back on it, but whatever—it filled the bathtub with bubbles in volumes that no soap could replicate. It was something out of your tamest Little Mermaid dreams. My sister and I would wiggle our tiny butts in the tub, close the shower curtain, and crank up the machine 'til we were swimming in a bubble fort.
It was heaven.
Now that I’m older, baths are sexier. I feel like I’m not doing it right unless there are multiple candles setting the mood and threatening to fall in the tub at any sudden sneeze. I also require a gin and soda on ice. I’m not sure why. The movies? Probably. And no bath is complete without the sexiest accessory of all—an NPR podcast echoing off the tiles. Are your glasses simply steaming at the thought? Mine too.
But have you also noticed that bath products for adults just aren’t as fun as the foamy, chemical stuff kids get? That’s not fair! But there are plenty of other innovations at the forefront of bath technology to explore, whether you want to be oiled up and moisturized, smell like a two-month-long European vacation, scrub away everything and everyone you’ve ever touched, or just have some gigantic freakin’ bubbles. So let’s hop in, the water’s fine.
As you know, Lush has the whole bath bomb market cornered (in a porcelain tub). And good for them! When I was a kid, we used to throw them in the hot tub in our backyard (~classy~), which was fun because those bombs are huge and should be shared with others. Nowadays, I find they overwhelm my tub with scent and soap. It feels wasteful, and then it’s done, and my tub is coated in glitter as if a disco murder occurred to the tune of Terry Gross narrating Fresh Air.
If you like glitter and magic and variety, these are for you. If you like things that come in the shape of flamingos, these are for you. There are approximately 2,341 flavors to try before you die. I liked the lowkey Milky Bath, for its creaminess. I actually took it out halfway in to use it again at a later date. The Experimenter changes color and made for great Snapchat content, which was an adventure (and about as experimental as I, a person who buys “back-up toothpaste,” gets)—but the smell was too murky and inexplicable. Plus, dat glitter. Boyfriend said, “You smell like a Claire’s,” after I used the Marshmallow Bomb.
SUPER CONCENTRATED OILS
If you want to be moisturized and perfumed for hours after a bath, there is only one oil: Aromatherapy Associates Deep Relax.
This stuff has a seemingly queen’s ransom of a price tag, but after seeing what one capful can do, I’m ready to be a (paid) spokeswoman on their behalf. It’s that good. I’d go full Jessica Simpson Weight Watchers for this bath oil. It’s a sandalwood, chamomile, and vetiver-heavy perfume that fills the bathroom with a steamy aroma for an entire day after you use it. You can see the droplets of concentrated oil on the surface of the water, and they cling to your skin, making your holey, after-bath pajamas smell like a millionaire’s underwear drawer. Also, if it’s $73 for 20 baths, that’s $3.65 per bath, and Lush bombs clock it at around $8. How about that for a little mathtime in the bathtime? This is what happens when you listen to Planet Money in the bath.
If you’d like a more lowkey bath oil situation, I’d next recommend Fresh’s Sake Bath and Sisley’s Eau de Campagne Oil. The sake bath is my go-to for quickie, 10-minute baths where I just need to decompress from a day of replying to emails, sending emails, and thinking about emails. It’s a clean, uh, fresh scent that doesn’t swarm the room with its presence. You should get a sample, because smelling it directly from the bottle is too concentrated to get a sense of it. There’s persimmony-plumy fruit notes, and the sake melts away in the hot water. I didn’t really feel much residue on my skin, which is probably why they made a body oil to go with it.
Likewise, Sisley’s Campagne Oil smells very green and plant-like, but not in a green-juice-chlorophyll-who-wants-to-eat-flaxseed kind of way, more like a Marie Antoinette’s garden kind of way. You can see the texture of the oil in the bottle how much more watery it is than the Aromatherapy Associates mega oil. I really dug the scent. Very summery. You can also use it as a body oil after you get all pruney and finally get out of the tub.
There’s Epsom salts, classic. And I use those mixed with other bath things because they’re odorless and supposedly muscle relaxing. But then there’s a myriad of other salty goods, like Herbivore Botanicals natural line, my favorite of which is the Detox Dead Sea Salt. The only downside is that I use half a bottle in one bath because I’m a glutton for healing. Not super economical for me, but the scent has an Aveda-eucalyptus thing going on and I love the idea of getting some bad juju out of my body. More economical in the salt department are the EO Lavender Salts from Whole Foods. Dump 'em in, zen out, repeat.
Either you’re a loofa girl, in which case, please tell me you’ve bought a new one in the past six months (time it to going to the dentist). Or you scrub a little deeper. I like this super rough agave washcloth that will take your outer epidermis to the drain. Better for summer than winter, when people are actually seeing your skin. There’s also the option of dry brushing, which leaves my skin raw and itchy if I don’t oil down immediately afterward. Also innovative: These combination scrubbers from Spongelle that have soap inside them. After testing, I was a huge fan of their Pedi-Buffer in Beach Grass, but the regular spongelles for body were too harsh and left my skin red and irritated.
STRAIGHT UP BUBBLES
So you just want to be surrounded by bubbles? See life through the Barbara Walters lens? Literally wearing a bubble bikini and wish someone was around to appreciate the sight? Then I'd go with Rituals Energy Bubbles, which supposedly smell like Indian rose and honey, but to me it’s like fancy candy. Big bubbles, a sweet perfume that doesn’t infect everything, and a bottle that'll last months. And anyhow, it’s the closest thing I could find to this.
Photo via Getty.
More tiled tales from the bathroom: Meet the exfoliating washcloth that will change your skin (or at least make you baby smooth). Or for that post-bathe glow—consider body oil.