How Can I Enjoy A Bath Without Going Broke?


This is a story about how, recently, an opportunity to bathe presented itself to me. I love to bathe. I don’t do it very often because the bath at my apartment is just the bottom half of the shower, and something about the duality of soaking where I usually wash my feet and rinse my razor off is wholly unappealing. But my boyfriend’s place (the cheapest and safest staycation locale) has a standalone tub, and one night when I was crashing there he had digital plans and therefore I, a free couple hours to soak unperturbed. I didn’t have any of my fancy bathing products on hand but figured it’d be easy enough to enhance the experience with 20 bucks and a quick Target run. I grabbed all the pants and shirts I brought, threw them on to brave the winter chill, and headed out in search of a cheap bandaid. You’ve got to strike while the bathwater’s hot, so to speak.

I don’t know. Maybe I was too rushed. (Note to self: when your antsy boyfriend suggests he tags along on what is preemptively described as a “quick trip out to grab one thing,” deny the request.) Though I made three lukewarm loops combing through the beauty aisles, what I ended up with was… not very good. Thick, expensive body oils double as bath oil no problem, but my tried-and-true Neutrogena Light Sesame turned into a weird bubbling foam when I squirted it under the running faucet. The coconut oil spiked epsom salts I bought, hoping to add a moisturizing element to an otherwise drying soak, smelled strong and artificial. And I don’t even want to get into the bath bombs. I am a grown woman with parched legs and a stress management issue! I need more from a bath product than baking soda, citric acid, and glitter.

There’s a happy ending here, because in the end I did get to bathe, and to bathe is still always better than not to bathe. It’s a fail-safe soother when I’m panicky. The thing is, I can’t always anticipate when those feelings are going to arise, and when I need to take a spontaneous bath, I’d just like to have a plan. Perhaps you can relate?

If so, let me leave you with the following question: what’s the most luxurious bath you can brew in a pinch and on a budget? Does it involve purchasing a bulk bag of plain epsom salts and adding a dollop of solid coconut oil? A drizzle of olive oil from the kitchen, a few splashes of unscented drugstore bubble bath, and just a dot of essential oil? Whole Foods sells big jugs of jojoba and castor oils for under 10 bucks… is that the move? Or maybe the best option is blitzing some Quaker Oats in a blender, wrapping them up in muslin, and letting that turn your bath milky.

Just in case anything happens in the, ahem, very near future to set you off, a good option shouldn’t need to cost you a very moisturized arm and leg in same day shipping. Let's get crafty.

—Ali Oshinsky

Photo via ITG