Bubble, Bubble: Chase Away The Toil And Trouble

Photo by FeatherWeatherK

The bubble bath is long revered as the ultimate self-care ritual. Hot water pulls the stress right out of a body made rigid by a day of decisions, petty arguments, computers, traffic – all the tiny frustrations that plague modern life.

The steaming water alone is enough to change the energy inside your body and mind, but something about those bubbles – it turns a simple cleansing activity into something so much more luxurious and special.

Baths have many more therapeutic benefits than simply helping you to relax.

I’m re-discovering this simple (and cheap!) ritual as a midlife ally. (Although it you’re dealing with big time hot flashes you might want to dial down the temp a little.)

Not only will a precious 15 minutes immersed in hot water take you away from the responsibilities and cares of the day, allowing you some uninterrupted time to just be with your sweet little self – a warm bath can wind you down, and open you up enough that you might possibly locate your libido when it’s time to crawl into bed with your husband or partner.

No promises there though! It’s just a possible fringe benefit for some women. Other allies may be needed for lost libido, including herbs, dietary adjustments and/or counseling.

Hot water can also relieve minor cramping and pain – especially wonderful if, like me, you suffer from the perimenopausal symptom of period-like cramps that last for weeks on end.

Add some candlelight, a cup of tea or glass of wine, and perhaps some soothing music and a little bit of heaven has arrived in your bathroom.

What About Those Bubbles?

I remember my mother pouring in the perfumey white powder out of the big pink Mr. Bubble box each night before I climbed into a bath with my sisters. We’d spend near on an hour playing with those bubbles, making up games. (That break time from the kids was probably more therapeutic for my mom than taking her own bubble bath!)

But now-a-days who wants to use Mr. Bubble to froth up that relaxing bath? (Do they even make Mr. Bubble anymore? I’m probably dating myself…) That was like putting laundry detergent into the tub.

The point of your bubble bath is to deeply nourish and relax not just your body, but your mind and soul too.

That means using a bubble bath that leaves your skin feeling silky and moisturized, one that utilizes the powers of aromatherapy to induce the relaxation, stress relief, or whatever therapeutic results you are going for when you turn on that hot water.

That’s why you want to choose natural, moisturizing ingredients and to avoid perfumes and stick with pure essential oils.

One unfortunate problem is the stuff that makes those frothy, smile-inducing bubbles.

The sad reality is that many bubble baths use harsh soap ingredients and other nasty chemicals that drain away our precious skin moisture.

And since all bubble baths are not created equal, you’ll want to take care when purchasing, or even make your own.

You can also ditch the bubbles completely and still savor the bath experience, using bath salts, oils, herbs in a muslin bag, or adding a few drops of your favorite essential oil.

To me, one of the simplest and quickest paths to a bath-induced attitude adjustment is through aromatherapy.

Essential oils (which are a completely different animal than perfumes or fragrance oils) can uplift the spirit, soothe a worn out brain, penetrate sore and achy muscles, invite sensuality and love – and so much more.

You can take the easy (and relatively inexpensive route) of purchasing ready-made aromatherapy bath products at your local health food store or online. Many companies such as Aura Cacia make potent and lovely bath salts and oils that incorporate essential oils to create an extraordinary bathing experience.

My recommendation? Whether you’re going for bubbles, bath salts or oil, always check the labels and choose a product that contains real essential oils and no fragrance.

Not only will these be gentler on your skin, but you will derive actual therapeutic effects, rather than just immersing yourself in a sweet smelling tub of water. Fruity scents (with the exception of citrus), and some of the tropical scents like coconut are almost always derived from synthetics. Beware!

Become a label reading fanatic, and ask if you don’t recognize an ingredient. This one thing can turn your bathing experience from just a lovely way to spent a half hour into a remarkably therapeutic experience – making a profound difference to your health and well being.

A Bath Is A  Date With Yourself

Many women have spent a lifetime (at least the adult part of it) taking care of others. We give to our spouses, to our kids, our bosses, our co-workers. We volunteer, we take care of pets, we look after just about everyone but ourselves.

Few of us can even remember how to go about a practice of self-nurturing.

Well, a regular bathing date is a good way to start!

Although some of the more luxurious natural bubble bath products out there can put a dent in your wallet, you can still find some high quality solutions that won’t dip into next week’s lunch budget.

And when you think about it an ounce or two of bubble bath is still a heck of a lot cheaper than a couple of cocktails. And you get to wake up feeling refreshed and cared for, instead of dehydrated and tired.

Really, a bath is a cheap date!

Give These Bubble Baths A Try

Usually I like to whip up my own bubble bath concoctions (you’ll see in the recipes below how easy this is). But since I’m in a transitional space right now – not even settled into a home I can call my own – last week I decided to treat myself on my birthday with some store-bought bubble bath.

This was hard because my penny-pinching inner critic did not approve of my spending the equivalent of my daily food budget on something I could make myself.

I was able to talk her down by reasoning out that purchasing the ingredients would cost even more. And even though I could make much more bubble bath with said ingredients, I’d then I’d have to store and move them.

We were both delighted to discover a  budget-friendly bubble bath product I’d never seen, at the New Seasons natural foods store here in Portland.

On sale for just $9.95 (usually about $11.95 I think), Everyday Shea Moisturizing Shea Butter Bubble Bath gave me 32 ounces of natural bubble bath – enough for at least 30 baths. I went with the unscented, choosing to add my own essential oils depending on my mood and emotional needs on any particular evening.

Since it’s often a bit of a challenge to find a bubble bath that isn’t  crammed with chemicals and perfumes, I’ve often chosen baby bath products in the past. (And why not? Remember this is a ritual to baby your SELF!)

Of course, keep in mind that no commercial product will be quite as pure and clean as the ones you make yourself. That said, here are a few more options:

California Baby Bubble Bath – we carried this one at Moonrise Herbs for years. And the best-selling scent was called “Overtired & Cranky” (with essential oils of tangerine, sweet orange and chamomile). We all know that it’s not just babies who get this way!

Several other scent combos are available, including “Calming” and “I Love You.” No sodium lauryl sulfate!

$13.99 for 13 oz. won’t set you back too much.

EO Bubble Baths – This is another high quality company, and you may have come across their attractive blue bottles of hand soap, shampoos and other aromatherapy body care products. Vegetable glycerine, herbal extracts and coconut pamper your skin. Always made with pure essential oils.

This one is readily available in natural food stores and other shops. About $11.99 for 12 oz.

Burt’s Bees Baby Bee Bubble Bath. I’ll admit I’m kind of bummed that Burt’s Bees got so mainstream – but the truth is, it doesn’t seem to have compromised the quality of their products. Although I prefer not to spend my dollars on companies so corporate, I do still buy some of “Burt’s” stuff.

Add your own essential oils to scent this clean product. Easy to find anywhere. About $9.00 for 12 oz.

Or Just Make Your Own

Okay, so it’s pretty easy to make your own bubble bath. But, keep in mind that the more natural the recipe the less huge and lathery the bubbles. Yet, what you lose in bubbly effect you gain in health benefits and the knowledge that you are being kinder to the Earth.

Simple & Bubbly

1 cup unscented natural baby shampoo
1/4 cup oil (almond, calendula or coconut oils work well)
10-15 drops essential oils (see suggested combos below or just use lavender or my current fave – neroli.)

Mix ingredients in a large measuring cup on medium sized bowl using a whisk. Pour into a pretty bottle and use 1-2 fluid ounces per bath.

Ideas for essential oil blends:

Uplift and brighten your energy with 4 drops orange, 2 drops geranium, 3 drops lavender and 4 drops sandalwood.

Soften, sooth & relax with 5 drops lavender, 4 drops mandarin, 2 drops neroli, 2 drops vanilla

Clean & Natural Bubbles

1 quart of distilled water
1 4-oz bar of castille soap (melted in microwave)
OR 4 ounces liquid castille soap
4 ounces liquid vegetable glycerin
15-20 drops essential oils

Mix first three ingredients together and stir well. Add in essential oils and pour into bottles. Use about 4 oz. per bath.

You can find castille soap, vegetable glycerine and even your essential oils at Mountain Rose Herbs.

What’s your take on the bubble bath debate? Is the luxurious lather worth the compromise of only slightly sketchy ingredients? Do you prefer salts and oils? (Watch for my future bathing update with recipes for bath salts and other bubble bath alternatives!)

Share your bathing blather below in the comments – or over on Facebook! See you there!



20 Responses to Bubble, Bubble: Chase Away The Toil And Trouble

  1. Sarah, I remember Mr. Bubble! Of course, you and I are from the same era, so that makes sense! 
    Baths are great and I often find them a soothing cocoon to hide away in when needed.

    •  @BobbiEmel LOL, we’d have such fun making bubble hair dos with that Mr. Bubble! I can clearly picture the pink, smiling bubble faces 🙂 Yes, I’m glad I’m rediscovering the bubble bath – or at least making it a point to turn on that water more often. I made it a priority in my housing search too!

  2. Ooh, Sarah, I need to send this link to my wife!
    We’re all so busy going hither and yon and paying bills and toting kids around and mowing grass and so on and so forth…ahh, the brilliant perfection of a bubble bath — too much for a good woman to ask? I should say not! 🙂

    •  @jbdzyne  So true! All that busy-ness and then we feel like no time for the bath. Gotta change that attitude! It is a brilliant perfection indeed. So send on to your wife, but don’t stop there. Guys get to take baths too!Thanks for stopping by and for your comment!

  3. Sarah, this is GREAT!!  Gosh, I can’t remember the last time I took an actual bath!  I think I’m going to do just that this evening!! And thanks for much for the recipe to making your own bubble bath!  I’m going to do that as well and make some for  Christmas gifts!  Brilliant!!!  xoxo

    • @Tina Tierson So glad I could remind you of the sweet serenity to be found in the bath tub! I hope you got that soak in! And you’re so on the right track. Everyone loves a little homemade bubble bath as a holiday gift! I’ve been known to give those more than once!

  4. I love ‘a bath is a date with yourself’ and must admit that it is a wonderful way to nourish and sooth the soul.  These days I have ditched the bubbles in preference to something that adds moisture to my skin.  I use a bath to mindfully enjoy the present.  Put on some soft calming music, light a candle then simply to immerse myself for a little while.  I start by rubbing moisturizing soap on my toes, rubbing away the stress of the day and mindful that this is self care as I move along to souls of my feet, ankles, slowly de stressing each part. 

    • @Priska  It’s true that you don’t need bubbles to turn that soak into a wonderful date with yourself! I love how it does bring us right into the present. Years ago I used to take a book into the bathtub with me, but now I just enjoy sinking in and being in this moment, feeling the sensation of the water, and just being with ME. Lovely idea to do a little foot and body loving while in there too!

  5. Not quite a bubble bath, which I love!, but I had a date on the full moon outside with the hot tub and scented candles, This was also quite lovely and allowed me to really connect with my inner self

    • @LoriLynnSmith   Oooh, now that sounds like my kind of evening. I think a hot tub might almost trump the bath tub because of the full immersion and outdoors factors.  But the bath tub can provide a close approximation. How lovely to enjoy your solitude with that gorgeous full moon!

  6. I am a lover of baths and take one almost every night of my life.  I grab a book, fill up the tub, and take a time out.  It never fails to relax me and carry the worries of my day away!

    • @Ellen Berg  You’ve been one of my inspirations to get back to the beauty of the bath! It is truly a top contender for instantly relaxing both mind and body.

  7. I’ve never been a bath person, always preferring showers: but you can take time and pamper yourself in a shower too. Using quality shower creams and a salon shampoo/conditioner,  and even using a face mask or a face scrub, and then afterwards applying a generous slathering of the Body Shop’s body butter before slipping into bed between clean, air-dried sheets…that’s heaven 🙂

    • @IncredibleZen  You’re right, a shower is a self-care ritual in its own right. Especially if you turn it into a spa experience. Personally I don’t enjoy them as much before bed as they tend to wake me up. Sure do love your description of the beautiful ritual though! Especially those air-dried sheets that always smell so sweet after being caressed by the sun.

  8. Yes, I too remember Mr. Bubble!  We have pictures of my brother and me making all kinds of bubble sculptures and laughing when we were little.
    My bath days seem to have evaporated with three little kids running around keeping me more than busy.  My 3yr. old daughter loves her baths and sometimes gets a few a day.  Like you mother, yes, these are wonderful breaks for me.  Sometimes I give her the little self-foaming container for hand soap that I refill with natural lavender dish soap and lots of water.  A little goes a long way for bubbles with that stuff and she loves it.  Many times as I’m filling the tub for her, I visualize myself soaking.
    I’m sure I’ll get back in the luxurious soaking habit when they’re a little older.  Love your recipes here!  Maybe I’ll get one in after the little ones’ bed time, now that I think about it.
    I love your reminders to take care of myself!  Huge Hugs!!!

    • @PaigeBurkes  I sure hope you can get back into soaking your own bones sooner rather than later Paige! At least you get to vicariously enjoy through your daughter (not to mention the precious few moments of quiet time!).
      And remember, it doesn’t have to be a huge long extravaganza just to take a bath. I used to feel like that too, and so would put them off for lack of time. But now I’ve realized I can fill the tub while doing other bedtime preparation activities that I need to do anyway. And sometimes I’ll only soak for 10 or 15 minutes, but even that leads to a much more restful sleep! I lovingly challenge you to fit in a bath this month! And hugs back atcha!

  9. I love hot baths. I think that’s what is missing from my nightly ritual. I used to take a hot bath with my daughter before bed and we made our own batch salts and scrubs. Then would fall asleep instanly at night.  Alas, we don’t have a bath in our new home. Granted it’s a really nice modern shower with one of those rain falling action heads and a second handle that vibrates but it’s not the same as a bath.  .
    i had no idea that the bubble in bubble bath could be harmful. YUCK…

    • @AnnieAndreHacks  Oh, I’m sorry! You and your daughter must really miss that bathtub. Sometimes we do have to do those trade-offs, so you’ll have to turn the shower into a more spa-like experience if you can. Luckily you do have a fancy shower! In my housing search I considered several places without baths – I’m glad I finally settled on one that does provide a bathtub. I’m not willing to give up my newly rediscovered mindfulness relaxation tool!
      And, yeah. It’s a bit of a ‘bubble-bursting’ realization (ha ha) to find out that many bath bath formulas are drying to the skin and even downright toxic. Luckily there are lots of good alternatives though.

  10. I took a bath almost every night last week after work.. For some reason (stress?), I was super sore and tight, making me not so pleasant to be around… I never felt like I *NEEDED* a bath so badly as last week! Sure enough, after a nice soak in a hot bath and some epsom salts, I’d emerge a new woman. It’s amazing what a hot bath can do for the body and spirit. All your talk of oils and such makes me want to get into those, too, mix up the experience a bit.

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