Nicky Park: The benefits of bath time

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Take time to have a relaxing bath.Photo / Thinkstock
Take time to have a relaxing bath.Photo / Thinkstock

It's winter time, when our bodies can start to feel stiff and sore and activities are often limited to being rugged up and indoors. One of my favourite ways to embrace this time of year is through a bit of therapeutic, self-indulgent, DIY bath time. Here's my three-step schedule for a healing soak.

1. Begin with a dry skin brushing:

Heard about this? It's already got a bit of a following here, but just in case you haven't caught on, this is basically buffing your skin with a rough-ish brush before you hop in the shower or bath.

There are plenty of benefits to this practice - most obviously it sloughs away dead skin cells leaving your skin super soft (give your elbows, heels and knees extra attention).

On a deeper level, dry skin brushing detoxifies by stimulating your lymphatic system. Your lymph vessels - essentially little one-way valves threaded in your skin - collect waste material. By brushing in a circular motion, from your feet up towards your heart you give the lymph vessels a boost, pushing the toxins around for faster disposal.

I recommend getting a natural bristled brush (I like The Body Shop's long-handled cactus bristle brush). You don't want to be brushing so hard that it hurts, but you want to get a pink and stimulated feel. Dry skin brushing also gets your circulation going, minimising the appearance of cellulite.

2. Brew your perfect bath:

The base of a good bath is obviously a tub full of hot water. Michelle Woodyard, from Professional Skin & Beauty, says being in warm water is cathartic, and has been since we were tiny humans surrounded by warmth and osmotic pressure in the womb. When it comes to the perfect temperature, we're all different. But to really reap the relaxing benefits you want to be able to soak in there for at least 20 minutes. The fun part is adding milks, soaks and salts - pick your poison.

Bath salts are often magnesium based so are particularly relaxing, Michelle explains. (I like a couple of scoops of epsom salts on an achy breaky body. You should be able to get these from your local supermarket - but be careful if you're pregnant). Bath soaks, on the other hand, take the edge off the water and make the experience more soothing and sensorial. (I am in love with the NZ Spa foaming bath soak in wild daisy. This gem is also a favourite with my bath-loving Manfriend. Light the matching candle = bliss.) Bath milks tend to be lactic acid based so will make your skin smooth as silk. If you want to get your skin silky smooth give it a scrub in the tub (NZ Spa have a wonderful one that smells of alpine fern) - this will keep that horrible wintery dryness at bay. While it's good to mix it up with your products, Michelle doesn't think it's wise to throw them all in at once. Each product has a different pH level she says, and they could end up cancelling each other out.

3. Seal all the goodness in:

A soak should have you feeling pretty blissful. Your mind and soul will be thanking you for taking time to be peaceful. Your body will also be feeling pretty lush so seal all the goodness in with a "dry oil" so you don't get all greasy. Michelle likes Environ A, C and E body oil. I love lathering up with a delicious smelling body butter or souffle.

Go on, treat yourself this weekend!

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Nicky Park

Editor of Life & Style.

Nicky lives to wine, dine and thrive. As Life & Style Editor at the New Zealand Herald online, she feels lucky she can call this work. Nicky crafted her writing skills as a cadet for an Australian news wire. Amongst the coverage of sport, news, finance and courts she found a favourite in features. A stint as a foreign correspondent sent this chipper Aussie across the Tasman, covering the big issues of the Pacific Islands. Every single day Nicky relishes the opportunities she has to mix and mingle with interesting people, feast on delicious food, visit new places and write all about it. Nicky wants everyone to make the most of their minutes, learn lots and live their best life.

Read more by Nicky Park

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