Soak away the stresses of life

Mary O'Donnell
Mary O'Donnell

When I was pregnant with my first child I read everything on what life would be like with a newborn.

The biggest revelation was my first shower, what would I do with baby, I feared that the sound of the shower would frighten this little mite and she would be damaged for life. So I waited for the first available adult to come along. Four children later I could now challenge any Olympian to a shower, dry and dress event and know I could be in with a fighting chance of a meda!

B.C. (before children) my ritual after a hard day's work was a long, hot soak in the bath and lately with my baby aged almost four, I can see my old friend the bath may return. So feeling quite decadent I went looking at bath sections in pharmacies. Times have changed and now everything you may need comes in a box set. I kid you not, from bubble bath to candle's to sponges all is ready for the busy connoisseur.

Since the beginning of time, bathing has been essential to good health and peace of mind. Anthropologists and archaeologists have found evidence of prehistoric man living near streams and waterfalls for bathing purposes. They even found a material resembling soap in a clay container. The Greeks and Romans took bathing seriously and were the first to build bathing emporiums .The Greeks viewed bathing as something one simply had to do before conducting business, after a day's work or before taking part in philosophical discussions, or battle.

Cleopatra had it all going on with her milk baths. Lee Strand would love if we all took a leaf out of her book. Milk baths are said to utilise lactic acid, an alpha hydroxy acid, to dissolve the proteins that hold dead skin cells. Just add Marc Anthony feeding her grapes. This one knew what girl power was all about.

If you ever holidayed in Turkey then I hope you tried out a Turkish bath. Recommended at the start of your holiday, it is a traditional style body scrub and 30-minute oil massage followed by apple tea while you relax in blue towels.

Celebrities with unusual bath-time treats include Teri Hatcher of Desperate Housewives fame who likes to bath in red wine for skin renewal and elasticity. Demi Moore likes to share her bath with highly trained leeches. Charlize Theron likes a hot milk bath.

The perfect bath needs preparation, the bathroom needs to be transformed into your very own spa. The room needs to be toasty warm, fluffy dressing gown over the radiator and candlelight creating a magical ambiance.

Take note, though, that lighting paraffin candles can lower your air quality. I have learnt that black smoke from paraffin candles contains over 11 carcinogens and toxins, two of which are proven by the American Lung Association to be cancer causing.

On the other hand, I had the pleasure last year of hearing all about Bluebell eco candles that are made under the beautiful Kerry mountains. These candles use soy wax, which is completely biodegradable and burns 40 per cent longer. Also they do not release chemicals into the air we breath, or increase CO2 levels. Check out their all natural soy tea lights and my favourite luxurious warm spa aromatherapy massage candles - made with Shea butter and Cocoa butter and a special blend of essential oils. Light the candle for 15 minutes and then you can use the oil from your candle for a massage. The candles were in all the goody bags for the 2012 Emmy awards in LA . Next year all the Oscar nominees will receive a Bluebell eco candle.

Bathwater needs to be at the right temperature, if it's too hot it can cause dizziness and you don't want to leave a layer of skin on the bottom of the bath. If too cold it can cause a chill. Bath pillows can be very relaxing, but a bath towel folded up can also do the trick. Dim the lights and this is a good time for a face mask. I recommend Dermalogica's multivivamin power recovery mask with botanicals that sooth and calm the skin.

Epson salts are great for relaxation and for sore muscles and the magnesium in it has a serious chill out effect. Dead Sea salt is also very good. Essential oils add extra luxury - lavender, for example, is excellent for inducing sleep. If pregnant check with an aromatherapist as some oils are a no no. Relaxing music adds an extra touch.

Chanel Coco Mademoiselle have a real luxury soap. The Sanctuary Spa range is also nice, especially the salt scrub. Radox have three new bath smoothies: Tropical Tranquillity with almond and coconut, Spirit Boos ter with elderberries and Soul Soother with chamomile. Rodger and Gallet also do a scrumptious bath range. Champneys do a great bubble bath called Relaxing Dream Bath with lavender and patchouli. Tensions of the day just float away.

If you suffer from eczema, bathing helps add moisture to the skin and washing gets rid of allergens, dust and pollen. Medication also penetrates easier after bathing.

Twenty five minutes is a nice bath time without skin turning into a prune. Pat the skin dry and moisturise while skin is damp. Then, book and bed.

If you are a new mum shower time may be reduced, but life sure is richer. Happy mother's day!

Next week: Beauty on a budget

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