What Is The Best Way To Wash Your Body?

There is no question about it, all-over beauty begins in the bathroom. Cleansing the body is just as important as cleansing the face, and baths (or showers) are the only way to keep it clean and fresh. Most body odors, if allowed free access to fresh air, will evaporate quickly, and the smell, if any, will be quite pleasant. But, our civilization demands that our bodies are clothed 95 percent of the time, and clothes (particularly those made of synthetic fibers) trap body moisture which quickly forms bacteria. It is the bacteria, not the sweat, that smell and become unpleasant. Deodorants are one way to attack the problem, but regular washing goes a long way towards solving it.

The bathroom itself should be a most relaxing and comfortable room — not something shoved into the only space available, with no heat, cold linoleum, and draughty windows. In America many people have their make-up table and hair accessories in the bathroom too, thus making it a beauty room rather than merely functional. This sensible idea, along with proper lighting surrounding good mirrors, is gradually being adopted in Europe, and even existing cheerless bathrooms can be improved now there are wall heaters, washable wall coverings, and carpets, and now that draughts can be excluded. Mirrors are pretty (and an essential aid to beauty), certain plants thrive in the steamy atmosphere of a bathroom and well-placed lighting does much to ease pressure and tension. Take a new look at your bathroom and see what can be improved, then start discovering the pleasures of the bath.

Never try to get into a bath that is too hot, or stay in a hot bath too long. It is enervating and draws away too much of the body’s natural moisture and oil, leaving you exhausted, your skin dry and often wrinkled.

A warm bath is best (not over 100℉ or 38℃) as a general rule. A lukewarm bath is refreshing on very hot days (much more so than a cold dip, which has only a temporary effect) and a tepid one is a good pick-up at any time. Cold baths are traditionally bracing and cold water is easiest to brave under a shower — this is most stimulating, and if you can get really strong pressure from the water, it will not only improve circulation but exercise muscles too.

If your only objective is to clean your body, then all you need is soap and water and something to dry it — the sunshine or a towel. Possibly, if you are short of time, this is the sort of bath you need occasionally, but it takes no more time to add a moisturizing oil while it is running and to use a fragrant soap. However, cleansing is not the only function of baths. Baths can relax the mind and muscles, soften and nourish the skin, stimulate the circulation, invigorate the mind and clear the head — which you choose usually depends on the time of day and the amount of time you can allow yourself, plus a thought for your general state of health.

First thing in the morning you need a good start to the day — it may be a soothing transition from sleep, in which case fragrant oils are a good idea and an unhurried soak in warm water. Or, you may need a brisk wake-up and toner for relaxed muscles, so try a citrus or pine-scented essence in lukewarm water. Or, if your system needs a real shock to get it started, smooth over a body shampoo, rinse off under the shower with warm water, then turn the tap sharply to cold.

After a rough day, you need at least ten minutes for a quiet bath (remember to take the telephone off the hook, put on some gentle music and make sure you are not disturbed). This will revitalize you for the evening, and if you choose a hot bath, try and take a cool rinse afterward for extra energy. A home-made infusion of herbs specially mixed with their soothing, calming, moisturizing properties is excellent at this time. Use dried herbs — grow your own and dry them, or buy them ready-dried. Then put your mixture in a muslin bag and tie it firmly to the hot tap so the water runs through it. Your herbal bath should include flowers as well as leaves (picked from roses, camomiles or lavender, elders or lemon trees), pine needles and any herbs you discover and like, such as fennel, thyme, rosemary, sage, and peppermint. For instance, try a blackberry bath as a tonic for your skin make a strong infusion and use it for two or three nights running. A pine bath to refresh boil pine needles for half an hour and allow them to steep overnight; strain and use a cupful in each bath. A lemon bath to invigorate add slices to a lemon-scented bath oil and use slices to rub over your skin. An elder bath for soothing in infusion form. A lavender bath of pleasure dried lavender flowers mixed with a little-dried mint and rosemary. Alternatively, choose one of the ready-mixed herbal concoctions available or the delicious products which include herbs in the ingredients. The last thing before bed, a lazy warm bath encourages sleep — it should be redolent of sweet-smelling flowers, with moisturizing foam or milk. Pat yourself dry afterward — don’t rub vigorously and don’t take your bath too soon after a meal. There are variations to try at any time:

The country bath. Everyone knows what a day in the country does for morale and beauty. A country-smelling bath allows you to dream yourself into the same state. Without taking a step you can conjure up fields of flowers, old-fashioned herb gardens, a glade of bluebells or hedgerow of honeysuckle, wild roses, and moss. Try gels that blend extracts of marigold and pine-needles, soften the water and cleanse the body essences that soften and scent the water oils that soften, cleanse and nourish the skin.

A flowery bath. There’s nothing more delightful than to receive a beautiful bouquet of flowers. Almost as good, but better for your skin, is a fragrantly flowery bath. Choose a milk bath with the bouquet of honeysuckle, rose and spices — and use talcum powder, body cream and deodorant in matching a fragrance to help the scent linger a foam bath or oil to soften or to color your bath a delicious sea-blue or green.

A sea-water bath, if you long for that breezy tank of a holiday. There are lots of bath additives using sea algae, which contain all the minerals of sea water that help draw toxic substances from the body and ease rheumatic complaints, aching joints, and muscles.

As with everything else, you need the right equipment to get the most out of your bath: a rough-textured loofah, perfect for removing dead skin and leaving the body tingling; a sponge for soaking your skin (when it becomes clogged with soap, steep overnight in vinegar to freshen it); nail-brush and body brush — choose them with stiff, natural bristles; pumice-stone for rubbing away rough skin on heels, soles of the feet and elbows; flannel or bath mitt made of cotton towelling for rubbing on soap (make sure you launder them frequently or they’ll harden with the soap residue).

After your bath your skin is at its most receptive — this is the moment, when it is completely dry, to use a deodorant, lots of moisturizing body lotion, a splash of cologne and talcum powder; if your finger or toenails need cutting, they are soft and pliant after a bath, and it is a good moment to massage cuticles with a nourishing cream.