There are two main reasons why you should choose organic bath products. First, your skin absorbs more chemicals when soaking in warm water. Warm bath water causes the blood vessels near the surface of the skin to dilate - that's why your skin looks pink when you get out of the tub - allowing higher absorption by an organ that absorbs close to 60% of what we put on it at baseline. So, you don’t want it absorbing unnecessary chemicals - much less, toxic ones! And, second, bath water, mixed in with the dirt from our bodies and the chemicals in our bath products, goes down the drain and heads to a treatment facility or a septic field.
So what can you do to avoid putting potentially harmful chemicals on your skin or into the environment? As an organic skin care expert, Dr. Sarah Villafranco has several tips on how consumers can pamper themselves with a luxurious bath using only non-toxic bath ingredients.
The Best Things to Add to Your Bath:
Natural bath salts on the market today typically contain either Epsom salt or sea salt. Epsom salt is a combination of magnesium and sulfate. Soaking in an Epsom salt bath will allow magnesium (an important element in maintaining a balanced cellular environment) to be replenished in the skin and the muscles. Cellular imbalances often occur after serious physical exertion, which is why athletes often reach for Epsom salt after an intense workout. Sulfate acts to flush toxins and heavy metals from the skin. Both of these are present in sea salt as well, in addition to other minerals and trace elements, depending on the body of water from which the salt was harvested. Some salts, such as the French salt in Osmia's Salt Bath, contain natural clay, which means even more skin-softening minerals. The reason why minerals in sea salt are so softening is because they attract water at a molecular level, plumping up the skin and softening callouses.
Herbs, Flowers and Grains
There are a variety of herbs and flowers that can be added to your bath, with benefits specific to each. Skin-softening compounds, vitamins, and essential oils in herbs and flowers are released when immersed in warm water, allowing your skin to absorb them. As a bonus, you’ve got the added benefit of the inherent aromatherapy that occurs when the botanicals release their oils. An aromatherapy bath can offer a soothing experience (think lavender scents) or an energizing one (pine and forest smells are quite invigorating!). One plant that has garnered a solid reputation for skin benefits is the oat. Both the oat grain itself and the straw upon which it grows have skin soothing and healing properties when placed in warm water. The skin soothing properties of oats are due to their water absorbing capacity and their release of amino acids and saponins (soap-like molecules). With an oat bath, you’ll notice immediately how the texture of the water changes - it becomes softer and more emollient. The Osmia Organics Tea Bath includes organic oats (as well as Epsom salts and organic botanicals) that soften the skin without harming the environment.
Milk softens your skin because milk acids boast an exfoliating effect - they help break down and slough away dead skin cells, leaving behind silky smooth skin. Whole milk and buttermilk have the highest fat content so they’ll moisturize your skin the most. Pouring fresh milk in your bath is not recommended if you are taking a hot bath – the milk will curdle! So always be sure to keep the bath water warm instead of hot – or use milk powder. Powdered milk products, like the Osmia Organics Milk Bath are just as effective and a lot more practical to use, since they tend to keep for longer periods in dry form.
Bath oils can be very moisturizing and soothing to wet, post-bath or shower skin as the warm water has already hydrated the skin and pores are open and ready to accept the benefits of a well-chosen, organically-sourced oil. That being said, adding oil directly to your bath may not be the safest option – many a hip has been bruised or broken by slipping when getting out of an oily tub! If using oils in the tub, stick to small quantities (approximately one tablespoon per bath), which will leave your skin feeling soft while making it less likely for you to slip. The best, easy-to-find oils for the bath are plant oils with low odor – for instance, sweet almond, apricot kernel, jojoba, or non-toasted sesame oil. Olive oil works too, but it is best to combine it with another, more emollient oil. Osmia Organics has created a line of wonderfully fragrant, skin-softening body oils to apply on those days (every day!) when you need an extra dose of pampering.
Whether you choose salts, grains, milk or oils, remember that regular, warm baths are not only stress-relieving moments of personal meditation and relaxation, they’re also a wonderful, healthy part of your skin care routine. So next time you step into the bath, choose natural bath products that are gentle on your skin, and kind to the earth.