Healing herbal baths have been cherished for centuries, especially in Irish mythology. During the Battle of Moytura, wounded soldiers supposedly plunged into baths and came out healed.
In today’s times, nothing beats a bath for battling the effects of winter—on your skin and pysche, says Bia Master Formulator Tracey Ryan. “Taking a bath is a deliberate act of slowing down and having time for yourself. It’s especially lovely if you’re tired or stressed. For me, baths are an essential part of my self-care routine.” Here, Ryan shares how get the most benefits from this ancient ritual.
An Old Irish Tradition
“In Ireland, particularly on the west coast, seaweed baths are a popular tradition. You fill a bathtub with hot sea water and seaweed, usually serrated wrack, which is full of minerals, oils and polysaccharides to leave your skin silky soft. You can do this at home or go to a bath house. My favorite is Kilcullens Seaweed Baths, which first opened in 1912 in Enniscrone, a small seaside village. There, you can experience a true Edwardian seaweed bath—starting with sitting in a wooden steam box to open your pores and then bathing in an enormous porcelain tub with solid brass taps. The treatment is said to ease sore muscles and stiff joints, due to the high concentration of anti-inflammatory iodine in sea water and seaweed.”
A DIY Botanical Bath at Home
“If you don’t have sea vegetation handy, you can still create an incredibly soothing winter bath. The simple act of immersing yourself in warm water opens the pores, improves circulation and allows skin to take on more hydration. It’s also the perfect time to apply your beauty products so the ingredients penetrate fully.”
Get the temperature right. “It should be warm but not too hot, as scalding water is not ideal for dry or sensitive skin.”
Tailor what you pour in. “To minimize muscle aches, try mineral Epsom salts or pink Himalayan salt. For extra hydration, put a muslin bag filled with calendula, chamomile and oat tops in the water to release their calming properties and relieve flaky skin. Essential oils, like lavendar, are wonderful for relaxation but since oil doesn’t mix with water, put a few drops of sulphated castor oil in the water first to help the essential oils disperse.”
Mask in the bath. “Now that your skin is soft, lather up with Bia’s cold process soaps—the Invigorating blend contains serrated wrack. Next, apply the Bia Exfoliating Wash like a face mask, spreading it all over and letting it sit for 10 minutes. Rinse off and your skin will be so smooth and bright.”
- Pull the plug. “I find 20 to 30 minutes to be the optimal time to relax, destress and let the hot water do its magic.”
Prolong the Post-Bath Benefits
“Straight after getting out of the water, while skin is still primed to receive nutrients, pat on Bia Facial Oil for hydration. I top it with Bia Skin Superfood, which you can also apply to your entire body—it absorbs quickly when your skin is warm.”
About Tracey Ryan
A trained herbalist, Tracey Ryan founded the natural skincare range Bia and guides all stages of formulation, development and production for the plant-based products. Inspired by her passion for nature, Ryan studied organic horticulture and sustainable development at An t-lonad Glas, The Organic College, in Dromcollogher and also holds an advanced degree in herbal science from the Cork Institute of Technology.