The Science Behind Soaking

A fabulous bath serves as an easy form of indulgence. Whether yours has you catching up on your latest shows, reading a riveting new novel, or simply enjoying some time for peace and quiet, there’s something magical about taking a bath. 

While soaking in a warm tub can feel like magic, there’s a lot of science backing up the benefits of a bath. You can use science to get the most out of your bubble time by finding the perfect temperatures, scents, and add-ons to make your self-cleaning a powerful self-care tool.

How Hot Is Too Hot?

We admit to never putting too much thought into our tub temps. We know it’s too hot if we can’t put our toes in without yelping, and we know it’ll cool down too fast if we’re not a little too hot when we get in. So what is the “perfect” tub temp? It all depends.

As a General Rule

The ideal temperature for most people is around 100 degrees Fahrenheit. That temperature seems warm enough to be comfortable and relaxing for most people. However, personal preference may have you adjusting your thermometer higher or lower. 

Wait, who has a thermometer for their tub? Some newer models do indeed come with built-in digital valves that allow you to adjust the temperature to your degree of perfection. If you’re trying to get serious about your tub temp, there is a wide variety of tub thermometers available. 

For Optimal Cleanliness

The sweet spot for washing away the grime is a steamy 112 degrees Fahrenheit. However, those sensitive to heat can rest assured that they’ll probably still get clean with a slightly lower temp.

To Retain Moisture

Super-steamy baths aren’t great for holding onto the skin’s protective lipid layer, which seals in moisture and keeps dirt and grime from penetrating our skin. If your skin is dry or sensitive, keep the bath temps at around 100 degrees or lower to avoid irritation and keep your skin’s natural oils intact.

To Relax Before Bed

If your pre-sleep routine includes soaking in a warm tub, the optimal water temperature matches your body. Keeping the tub at a body-temperature neutral of 95-98 degrees F will relax your nervous system and help you unwind. 

Consider a Balance

One of the most beneficial add-ons you can take to your tub time is a cold rinse afterward, especially if you like your baths (or showers) on the hot side. While heat forces blood flow and circulation to ramp up, a cool rinse brings your body back to a balanced state.

How Long a Bath Should You Take?

The short answer is: as long as you like. Most bath lovers tend to stay in for about 20 minutes. However, in a sleep study that looked at how long to bathe before bedtime to reap optimal sleep benefits, scientists discovered you only need 10 minutes in the tub to catch some shut-eye.

In addition, the same study found that the optimal bath time for sound sleeping is about one to two hours before bed. Therefore, using your ideal bedtime to schedule your bath helps prepare the body for sleep by improving blood circulation.

Which Scents Are Best?

There’s an oil for just about everything, and aromatherapy is a natural way to promote health and well-being. In addition, since the body’s olfactory system directly affects the part of the brain that regulates emotion, smells can trigger memories and feelings, both positive and negative. 

To best use aromatherapy to reduce stress and anxiety, it helps know which scents aromatherapists identify for specific moods and needs. These include:

  • Best for relaxation: Lavender.
  • Best for sleep: Chamomile.
  • Best for meditation: Orange.
  • Best for anxiety: Sandalwood.
  • Best for stress: Clary sage.
  • Best mood lifter: Lemon.
  • ​​Best for depression: Jasmine
  • Best for rest: Ylang ylang

If you’re creating a DIY bath oil, dilute essential oils into a carrier oil to ensure they don’t irritate the skin. Mix anywhere from 5-20 drops of essential oil with a tablespoon of carrier oil (grapeseed, jojoba, almond, and argan all offer skin benefits as well), and then add your mix right before getting into the tub, so the scent doesn’t evaporate. 

We always want to get the most out of our self-care, and knowing the science behind our soaks allows us to ensure each bath offers the perfect platform for unwinding with our latest Bubbles and Books box!

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