Following on from my look at essential winter skincare, we’re extending our focus to the rest of the body and talking a little bit about the lost art of bathing.
There’s really nothing quite like a good soak for easing your muscles and your mind during the colder months. It’s the perfect time of year to swap gels and salts for compensating textures that are probably a little too indulgent at other times of year, but they make dry post-winter skin feel absolutely amazing.
So take a look at my ultimate guide to bathing, showering and body care, and make your dip in the tub a little more luxurious…
Try a Shower Oil
When the colder months roll around, one of the first big changes I make to my shower routine is to swap my usual shower gel for an oil. Of course, you can use shower oils all year round – but I prefer to save mine for this time of year so that they feel like more of a treat (they’re a lovely incentive on really cold mornings).
Shower oils are a delicate balance of cleansing surfactants and nourishing oil, making them really beneficial for drier skin during the winter. They contain a high percentage of essential fatty acids, which restore the hydrolipidic film and replace lost moisture, and their ultra silky texture is really sympathetic to rough, sore skin. You may find, as I do, that you’re more inclined to massage a compensating shower oil into the skin than you do its gel counterpart. It’s a wonderfully indulgent experience and it gets your circulation going, too.
Must-try: L’Occitane Almond Foaming Shower Gel
This is probably my all-time favourite shower product, ever, with a scent that rivals that of some of my most treasured perfumes. I allow myself just a couple of bottles of this a year to make sure it stays special (it’s a true lesson in restraint), but it’s completely worth it the second I push the lid open and breathe in that gorgeous almond-and-apple aroma. The oil transforms into a milk on contact with water, but it doesn’t melt away into nothingness; it has quite a lot of slip, so you can still massage it into the skin. After use your body feels and smells absolutely amazing.
Special mention: La Roche-Posay Lipikar Huile Lipid-Replenishing Cleansing Oil
Originally created for those with severely dry skin who need something gentle and moisturising, this alcohol-free and soap-free shower oil really takes care of your skin. Niacinamide (a star ingredient for those with reactive skin) soothes and restores, while shea butter intensely moisturises. The smell of this is great, too – citrussy and refreshing.
Make Bathing Luxurious
One of the best things about this time of year is a good bath. You know the feeling; it’s cold, it’s wet and you’ve spent ages queueing for the bus after a long day of work. Sinking into the tub when you get home is so instantly satisfying, it’s often a struggle to re-emerge from the water! Up the ante by swapping your usual bath gels and soaks for something that’ll work harder for your dry winter skin, and help you to wind down for a relaxing evening.
Must-try: Tisserand Luxury Bath Oil De-Stress Blend
Lavender can be a little bit polarising as a fragrance. It fell out of fashion for a while as quite a mature fragrance, but when it’s blended just right, lavender can be seriously sensuous. The Tisserand Luxury Bath Oil is very much one of those instances. In it, lavender oil is blended with soothing marjoram oil and uplifting mandarin oil, designed to wind down both mind and body after a long day. Add a small amount to running bath water and its aromatherapeutic qualities will get to work untangling the knots in your mind while the hot water gets to work on soothing your body. As an added bonus, some of the silky oil sits atop the water, so that when you get out of the bath you’re coated in a very fine veil of moisturising oil.
Special mention: Michael Kors Shimmer Beads
This new release from Michael Kors is equally as indulgent as the aforementioned Bath Oil, but for an entirely different reason: it’s less compensating, and more all-out glamour! The scent of the beads matches the rest of the Michael Kors fragrance range, and their shimmering finish means that the entire body is dusted with a fine glimmer after bathing.
Swap Lotion for Butter or Cream
I must start off by saying that if you’re a disciplined moisturiser, you’re a better person than I! I do make an exception at this time of year, though – having (necessarily) hot showers can do a number on your skin’s moisture reserves, making it prone to flakiness and dry patches.
There’s another very good reason why I suddenly rediscover my moisturising willpower during the winter and spring, and that’s my love of a good body cream. Swap your usual body lotion for a thicker, more emollient cream and you’ll notice the difference straight away. Not only will you need to apply less, but your skin will retain its softness and hydration. When skin is well moisturised, it retains scent for a longer period of time, too!
Must-try: Crabtree & Evelyn India Hicks Island Living Spider Lily Body Cream
If you find yourself craving sunnier climes, India Hicks’ Island Living collection for Crabtree & Evelyn will be the highlight of your bathing routine. The Spider Lily Body Cream is inspired by the textures and scents of India’s home in Barbados, from the ultra rich base of island mango oil and avocado butter, to its delicately tropical fragrance of orange blossom, night blooming jasmine and palm leaves. The consistency of the Body Cream is thick and buttery. It’s more indulgent than most others of its ilk (it’s a fantastic dry elbow and knee softener), and it makes skin feel plumped and so very smooth.
Special mention: Nuxe Body Fondant Firming Body Cream
This dual-purpose body cream from Nuxe is a very close second to the India Hicks. In terms of fragrance, they’re actually not a million miles apart (they’re both tropical-floral with a core note of orange blossom), but in terms of consistency, this is the creamier of the two. The whipped consistency feels wonderful on the skin, and has the added benefit of working to tone and tighten the skin. It’s a perfect pre-party quick fix for those niggly problem areas!
Exfoliate, Exfoliate, Exfoliate!
The key to keeping your body soft and supple during winter is exfoliation. Of course cleanser and moisturiser play a big part; but, importantly, regular exfoliation sloughs away the dead skin cells that can accumulate and prevent your moisturiser from being able to do its job.
Your choice of exfoliator is entirely up to you. If you suffer from dryness, opt for one with a higher oil content to protect and hydrate as you buff the skin. If rough skin is a problem during winter, try something a little more gritty. Make sure to always follow up with some body cream for smooth, touchable skin.
Must-try: Clarins Toning Body Polisher
This powerful polisher is an SOS for those who don’t exfoliate as often as they should. Packed to the brim with sugar and salt crystals in an essential oil base, you need the tiniest amount to give your body a good all-over blitz. Added hazelnut oil and shea butter nourish the skin to add softness and put the moisture back in. Another great thing about this scrub is that it’s part of Clarins’ Tonic range, which has uplifting, aromatheraputic properties which’ll really blow the cobwebs away.
Special mention: Crabtree & Evelyn Pomegranate, Argan and Grapeseed Skin Smoothing Body Scrub
Tart, sweet and fruity, the pomegranate aroma of this scrub from Crabtree & Evelyn has a tendancy to permeate the whole bathroom, and it lingers on the skin for hours after use. It’s so uplifting! The texture of the scrub itself is very creamy, which feels lovely when it’s massaged onto dampened skin. The small beads of sunflower wax provide a great scrub despite their diminutive size and if you need even more power, you can gently work onto dry skin before rinsing off in the shower.
What are your favourite luxury bathing treats?