When stocking up on skincare products and toiletries in anticipation of a harsh summer, the one item we give a royal snub is bath salt. Despite coming in pretty packages, loaded with fancy ingredients, and giving off a sweet scent, we walk past the bath salt display rack at a cosmetic shop and proceed to fetch our facial gels and body creams.
Blame it on its pretentious price tag or the popular perception relegating these glittering bathing crystals to the smooth atmosphere of a spa, we have never really explored beyond its expensive packaging. The benefits of bath salt are many, and go beyond mere exfoliating dead cells to make skin soft and supple.
A nice long soak in a tub sprinkled with bath salt releases muscle tension and improves common irritations such as insect bites, minor rashes, calluses on feet, while working on serious skin conditions like athlete’s foot, eczema, and psoriasis. Says Nandita Suri, business director of Levo Spa, Ibis Hotel, Gurgaon, “Whether you have sore, tired feet from standing all day, or a stiff back from working at your desk, bath salts can help improve the way you feel and ease away the tension.” Just as we cannot do without a sunscreen lotion in summer, a jar of bath salt can be as indispensable if you’ve caught a bad tan or suffer pigmentation of skin.
How to pick your bath salt
Always ensure the bath salt is crystalline not lumpy, and contain all natural ingredients and nutrients. Available on the market in a rainbow of colours, choosing the right bath salt can be quite a task for a novice. Advices Sukhchit Dahuja, MD, Sawasdee Traditional Thai Spa, Delhi, your choice of bath salt should depend on what you wish to achieve in the bath. “Cool hues such as blues and purples are generally soothing, while warm hues such as orange and yellow are energizing. Besides, the benefits of bath salt differ with grain size, for instance, finer grains dissolve quickly and work well as skin scrubs,” he shares. One can even enhance the benefits of bath salt by infusing it with essential oils such as lavender or vanilla.
Popular summer bath salts
Sukhchit recommends softer and lighter fragrances for summer and monsoon. Orange: It has a fresh, sweet, citrus smell, and helps soothe dry, irritated skin as well as acne-prone skin. Excellent for rubbing on calluses on the feet. Lavender: Eases nervous tension, relieves pain, disinfects scalp and skin, enhances blood circulation and treats respiratory problems. The benefits of lavender can be attributed to its antiseptic and antifungal properties, hence the best scent to treat skin disorders including wounds and sunburns. Lemongrass: Bathing in water infused with lemongrass bath salts revitalises the body and relieves symptoms of jetlag, clears headache, and busts stress.
Benefits of bath salt
We wonder if there is anything seasonal about using bath salt. Elaborates Dr Naresh Arora, aroma therapist, Chase Aromatherapy Clinic, “In summer, our body tends to become toxic, more acidic and dehydrated, and consistent use of bath salt can boost immunity and cleanse toxins from the body.” Dr Arora is, however, sceptical about the daily use of bath salt as he feels over exfoliation of skin can cause rashes and redness. Says he, “Twice a week is good frequency, for these are medicated products containing sulphur and other minerals that are harsh on the skin when used daily.”
As a beauty product
It is perhaps the most luxurious and feminine beauty product ever known to women as it has both beautifying and therapeutic properties. And soaking up in a tub infused with bath salt is not the only way to reap its benefits. Nandita throws light on the other ways, “Gently rub bath salt over feet, knees, or elbows, with a damp washcloth. Exfoliation should be completed, and exfoliated areas should be rinsed thoroughly, before taking a bath.”
Homemade bath salt
Fret not if you do not have a large set up with a bathtub, or find them too expensive to be bought off the shelf. Bath salts can be made at home and even be added to a bucket of water and allowed to dissolve for five minutes before taking a bath. Sukhchit shares with us a classic recipe to make our own bath salt for a spa-like experience at home. Lavender aromatherapy bath salt
4 cups Epsom salts
1 cup Celtic Sea Salt (course ground)
5 drops red food colouring
5 drops blue food colouring
30 to 40 drops lavender essential oil (aromatherapy oil)
1 cup baking soda
3 Tablespoons dried lavender blossoms
Dead Sea salts would also be great, or any other quality sea salt. Do not use table salt, as it does not contain all of the beneficial minerals that sea salts have.