BATH TREAT – relaxing
There is probably no single beauty product we personally prefer than a relaxing bath treat. Sure, there’ll be those of you who prefer a speedy shower – but for us, the sheer muscle-soothing, brain-relaxing power of hot water infused with stress-busting essential oils or rebalancing botanicals will always be one of our favourite things ever. And over the years, we’ve come to realise that our testers absolutely agree. Relaxing bath treats traditionally score incredibly high marks with our panelists – and that was the case again here. So: next time you’re feeling a bit down – or overwhelmed, or just plain exhausted – treat yourself to one of these and run those taps. Our prescription is then to head straight for bed: the action of the brain cooling after a hot bath has been scientifically proven to beckon sleep. (You’re welcome.)
Two of the Award-winners here are super-affordable options – up against the much more expensive (but actually rather good value when you use it properly) Aromatherapy Associates contender, which happens to be our own all-time favourite bath treat EVER.
GOLD AWARD Aromatherapy Associates Deep Relax Bath & Shower Oil
We've lost count, over the years, of how many times this extraordinary bath treat has floated to the top of our annual rounds of testing. It's a legend in its own bathtime, an incredibly potent, sleep-beckoning blend of vetiver (to quieten the mind), chamomile (to relax both mind and body) and wonderfully grounding sandalwood, in a coconut oil base. If you don't happen to like bathing, this can be massaged into the torso before showering – or they suggest sprinkling a few drops of oil into a bowl of hot water placed near the bed, or even applying a drop or two to pulse points. Us? We're happy to wallow in this pretty much anytime – and one capful really does the business.
OUR TESTERS' COMMENTS:
'10/10. A simple product that really elevates my bath time experience. The smell as the bath was running immediately made me think of a luxury spa. I felt incredibly relaxed and pampered after bathing with this oil. It’s also much more concentrated than other bath oils I've used and the scent lingered in the bathroom and on my skin much longer too. It certainly relaxed me and prepared me for bed, and left my skin soft and smooth with a delicious scent’ • ‘This was intensely relaxing. I first used this during a very stressful time and I was having trouble sleeping. On first use, I found that I was mellow, relaxed and miraculously able to fall asleep within minutes and importantly, stayed asleep all night’ • ‘It’s a perfect nighttime treat and far exceeds any other bath oil I have used. It actually works in promoting sleep and I was definitely more able to tackle the stresses of life after a good nights sleep. It's a liquid miracle in a bottle’ • ‘Yes! I have the best night sleep after using this; it's amazing how it can clear the mind of worries. I slept deeply and felt more refreshed than I had in ages. I don't remember any dreams though’ • ‘I loved the scent of this product. It contains vetiver and sandalwood for a really deep, rich aroma. The scent lasts on the skin until next washing and in the ambient air for hours after use’ • ‘My skin felt nourished and supple, especially if I used it directly on the skin before a bath rather than adding to the water. A fabulous product; deeply relaxing and definitely lulled me to sleep. The aroma made the whole family sleep better’ • ‘I was dubious whether a product to help me sleep, as I do tend to worry at night and lie awake, or frequently wake up in the early hours. I find that using this product eliminates bad sleeping and I have taken to using it as preparation for a busy working week on a Sunday evening and as a way to de-stress on a Friday night. It provides a much healthier alternative to a few glasses of wine’ • ‘Amazeballs! I always felt products like this were overpriced and would not live up to the hype; however this is a superb product, which has changed my mind on de-stressing before bed. The warm welcoming fragrance wraps me in relaxation, leaves my skin soft and moisturised, and I sleep like a baby. I love it as a pre-bed treat after a long day’ • ‘I suffer from bouts of anxiety and I used this at the end of what had been a tricky day. As I applied the oil and breathed in its scent, I immediately started to feel calmer. It was easier to focus on the moment instead of to let my mind wander and get stressed out; certainly helped to clear my mind and helped me to calm enough to sleep’ • ‘The first time I used the oil, my husband was out. He returned home whilst I was drying myself and told me that he could smell the shower outside through the open window! He liked the scent too – I think it's great that the fragrance isn't girly and so could be used by men and women alike.’ • ‘The second time I used the oil, the following morning I could still smell the fragrance very gently on my pyjamas and it reminded me of what a nice night's sleep I'd had!’
£49 for 55ml - click to buy
SILVER and BEAUTY STEAL AWARD SenSpa Sleep Therapy Bath Soak
This very affordable treat – which definitely qualifies as a beauty steal – is one we've also always been impressed by, created by the spa team at Careys Manor hotel, in Hampshire, and widely available in the Waitrose beauty aisles. Free from parabens, SLS and mineral oil – it's actually 97% natural – this is a deeply soothing blend of organic lavender alongside bergamot, geranium and patchouli essential oil. And though it bubbles, it has an oil base that nourishes rather than dries out skin. Almost all testers said they'd buy this, in future.
OUR TESTERS' COMMENTS:
'10/10. Absolutely loved the product, loved the smell and the whole experience. The fragrance is so relaxing and calming – a lovely blend of lavender, patchouli and other essential oils. I love to put loads of product in the bath and just lie there and dream away. I felt simply divine afterwards’ • ‘I loved it! This Senspa Sleep Therapy Bath Soak was completely and utterly ideal for a relaxing bathe and after one inhalation of the fragrance my mind was instantly transported to the lavender fields of Provence! It rates highly against the other bath treats I use and is ideal for evening bathing and relaxing ready for bed’ • ‘I have also used it as a shower wash as I don't always have baths. It was just as lovely used on a net sponge and the steam from the shower infused the fragrances beautifully’ • ‘Very good quality and 97 per cent natural so it’s perfect for me. I love the scent of lavender, which always helps me to relax and it left my skin smooth and soft. I will buy this product’ • ‘I made sure to try it a few times before bed, and I think it did improve my sleep. The lavender is lovely and that and the warm bath set me right up for a good sleep! I don't think it changed my dreams though’ • ‘The beautiful lavender fragrance is just right - not too overpowering but strong enough that you only need to use a small amount. I used it t night after long days when I was tired or uptight and definitely worked well to relax me. I just love the smell; I find it very calming and it helped me to get to sleep. Also left my skin soft and nourished’ • ‘Having looked at the price for this product, I was pleasantly surprised. I thought it would be more costly. I think it's good value for money and gives a really nice fragranced, relaxing bath. It could be a bit more oily for my taste as I still used a body moisturiser afterwards’ • ‘So simple to pour under a running tap. I loved the wonderful aroma, which didn't dissipate quickly. After soaking in the bath I certainly went from being stressed and uptight to feeling calm and relaxed with this, more so than my usual brand. My skin felt lovely and soft. It helped me to drift off to sleep.’
£5.95 for 250ml - click to buy
BRONZE and BEAUTY STEAL AWARD Sanctuary Spa Luxury Bath Float
If you love bubbles, this is also proof that you don't have to put up with incredibly drying detergents to get your froth on. Baobab and vitamin E help make this kind to skin – but what many testers also (mostly) loved was the Oriental fragrance, with its gentle wafts of freesia which is a familiar signature throughout much of the Sanctuary Spa range – aptly described by one as 'cosy'. This also qualifies (just) as a 'Beauty Steal' since it comes in a whacking half-litre size.
OUR TESTERS' COMMENTS:
'A lovely bath product that creates luxurious creamy foam in the bath. I was quite stressed before bathing in this but very relaxed and chilled out after, and I slept very well. My skin was soft and supple after. It was quite easy to clean the bath, as there was no greasy residue’ • ‘Top marks for a nice, mid-priced bubble bath that I enjoyed using. The fragrance was quite light so did not fill the bathroom with aroma, but it was nice. I would buy this product as it lathered well and the bubbles did not disintegrate like a lot of bubble baths’ • ‘This bath soak provided lots of bubbles, which felt really thick and luxurious, they also lasted ages, which was great. It smelt beautiful and really lifted my mood. My husband loved it too! I used this when I went away for a few days over my birthday so was in the mood for relaxation and pampering and this fitted perfectly. I had walked a lot that day was very achy although relaxed. After my bath I felt even more relaxed. The following few times I was at home (distinctly more stressful) and felt much more relaxed after using it’ • ‘My skin felt moisturised and pampered after and my tired achy body and mind were relaxed and sleepy. A lovely luxurious product’ • ‘I loved the fresh light feminine fragrance and the bubble bath texture. I slept better and although it’s not an oily product my skin felt no drier than usual’ • ‘The packaging is a large practical sturdy-feeling bottle. The bath float has the Sanctuary Spa signature scent which I adore! It takes me back to the very first Sanctuary Spa salt scrub I purchased and fell in love with maybe 15 years ago. Immediately before - stress levels were high as my work in IT means you are pushed to the extremes mentally and it can be hard to switch off at the end of the day, particularly now with smart phones as there is always the connection to work. Immediately after my mood definitely felt more relaxed and I noted my shoulders were less tense’ • ‘The more I use this product the more I love it; the bubbles, the scent and way it relaxes me. The first time I used the bath float I followed the instructions to pour generously. I did four big glugs and my bath was bursting with bubbles! My cat’s curiosity raised, he sat precariously on the side of the bath gazing at the clouds below. We even engaged in a game of me blowing bubbles to form a shower of miniature clouds for my cat to enjoy! The wonderful fragrance fills the room and leaves a subtle scent on your skin. I feel so relaxed after a bath with Sanctuary Spa luxury bath float’ • ‘I love Sanctuary products; they do actually make you think you are in a spa. The bath felt relaxing and luxurious. Lovely fragrance: I have difficulty describing it, but it was very cosy and warming.’
£12 for 500ml - click to buy