People have been taking baths for centuries, but now they’re far more than just a way to get clean. Modern studies have discovered that a hot soak can help promote better sleep, relieve stress, reduce depression and even boost metabolism.
And thanks to the newest bath products on the market, you can easily turn your tub into a spa-like experience.
Forget the harsh, artificially fragranced and sulfate-laden bubble baths of the past. They’ve been been replaced by gentle formulas with clean ingredients that are unlikely to disrupt your pH or cause irritation. Think: mineral-rich salts and skin-softening powders, infused with essential oils, algae, clay and other botanical ingredients.
Keep scrolling to discover the best bath salts and bath soaks (and why I chose them) for your next self-care session.
The Bath Salts and Bath Soaks Edit
- Best budget: Herbivore Calm Ylang Ylang + Vanilla Soaking Salts are all-natural and look pretty on your countertop, but cost less than $20.
- Best detoxifying: Goop G.Tox Detox 5 Salt Bath Soak gives your body and mind a “detox” from urban pollution and stress.
- Best two-in-one: Indie Lee I-Recover Body Soak is both a muscle-soothing soak and a polishing body scrub.
- Best milk bath: Agent Nateur Holi(Bath) Coconut Milk Bath transforms your tub into a moisturizing, milky soak.
- Best invigorating: French Girl Mint Sea Soak Enlivening Bath Salts invigorate your senses with peppermint, rosemary and lavender.
- Best clean beauty: Odacité Energy Awakening Evergreen Bath Soak is an ultra-clean blend of mineral-rich salts, seaweed and essential oils.
- Best CBD: Lord Jones High CBD Formula Bath Salts are made with the highest concentration of broad-spectrum CBD.
- Best splurge: African Botanics Kalahari Desert De-Tox Bath Salts boost circulation and break down cellulite while easing tension and hydrating your skin.
- Best for sleep: This Works Deep Sleep Bath Soak encourages restful sleep with chamomile and aromatherapeutic essential oils.
- Best for sensitive skin: Susanne Kaufmann St. John’s Wort Bath calms stressed-out skin with St. John’s wort while moisturizing with cocoa butter and milk protein.
- Best for sore muscles: Naturopathica Sweet Birch Magnesium Bath Flakes help to reduce muscle inflammation with magnesium and sweet birch oil.
What to Look for in Bath Salts and Bath Soaks
For the best bath experience, look for skin-friendly products that meet the following criteria:
- High in salts: The whole point of a bath is to relax—so you want a high salt content, which will encourage the uptake of essential minerals (like magnesium).
- Free of sulfates: Not to be confused with magnesium sulfate (a.k.a. Epsom salt), sodium lauryl sulfate and similar detergents are often present to produce a lather. Unfortunately, they can strip natural oils and dry out your skin.
- Low in fragrance: While our bodies usually have a higher tolerance for fragrance than our faces, it’s still best to limit it if possible (since it’s the number one cause of irritation). Avoid salts and soaks with high levels of synthetic fragrance, and choose products with low amounts of essential oils instead.
- Free of dyes and glitter: It goes without saying that dyes and glitter offer nothing beneficial to your skin, and can be irritating or abrasive.
- Low in PUFAs: Oils high in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are unstable and quick to oxidize (go rancid). I avoid products with PUFA oils in the first five ingredients.
The Best Bath Salts and Bath Soaks of 2021
Herbivore Calm Ylang Ylang + Vanilla Soaking Salts
- Description: Herbivore Calm Ylang Ylang + Vanilla Soaking Salts are a fusion of Pacific sea salt, Himalayan pink salt, kaolin clay and two of the most calming essential oils: ylang-ylang and vanilla.
- Editor’s notes: Compared to other bath salts, these may take a little more time to dissolve, but they make up for that with the pretty packaging and affordable price.
Goop G.Tox Detox 5 Salt Bath Soak
- Description: Goop G.Tox Detox 5 Salt Bath Soak is a creamy blend of charcoal, clay and five different salts to detoxify and leave you feeling super-relaxed.
- Editor’s notes: This soak is all about cleansing your body and mind from the stress and pollution of urban life. (Creator Gwyneth Paltrow famously takes a bath every single night, so she knows a thing or two about bath soaks!) The brand also makes G.Nite for deep sleep; Phys.Ed. for sore muscles; Nurse! for when you’re under the weather; and The Martini for taking the edge off a stressful day.
Indie Lee I-Recover Body Soak
- Description: Indie Lee I-Recover Body Soak is a two-in-one soak and scrub that soothes overworked muscles and removes dead skin. Like all the brand’s products, it’s made with only clean ingredients, including Epsom salt, coconut oil, Dead Sea salt and Himalayan salt.
- Editor’s notes: You can either dissolve this soak in a bath, or apply it directly to damp skin as an exfoliant (and then rinse off in the shower or tub). There’s also a Sleep version to help you wind down.
Vertly CBD Infused Bath Salts
- Description: Vertly CBD Infused Bath Salts not only contain an all-natural mix of salts, sulfur, baking soda, glycerin and essential oils, they’re also spiked with 100 mg of a hemp-derived cannabinoid extract.
- Editor’s notes: If you’re curious about the CBD trend, this is a great way to give it a test-drive. In a bath, CBD won’t make you high, but its anti-inflammatory properties can help to ease sore, achy muscles.
Agent Nateur Holi(Bath) Coconut Milk Bath
- Description: Agent Nateur Holi(Bath) Coconut Milk Bath is a milky soak made from coconut milk powder, salt, magnesium, calendula, chamomile, baking soda and honey.
- Editor’s note: You’re getting a little bit of everything in this one: relaxing minerals, moisturizing coconut milk, and the scent of jasmine, rose and sandalwood oils. There’s also no guessing about how much to add to your bath, since it’s already divided into 10 sachets.
French Girl Mint Sea Soak Enlivening Bath Salts
- Description: French Girl Mint Sea Soak Enlivening Bath Salts is a mix of six salts (Himalayan, Dendritic, Epsom, Dead Sea, French grey and Pacific) and is fragranced with peppermint, rosemary and lavender oils to invigorate your senses.
- Editor’s notes: Unlike most bath salt blends, which are meant to help you wind down, this one is actually refreshing and uplifting. The brand also has a Rose version, which is more calming.
Odacité Energy Awakening Evergreen Bath Soak
- Description: Odacité Energy Awakening Evergreen Bath Soak is an Ayurveda-inspired soak made with Epsom, Dendritic and Himalayan sea salts, along with seaweed to bind moisture.
- Editor’s notes: Reach for this soak when you need a pick-me-up for body, mind and spirit. The salts release stress and tension while the seaweed repairs dryness, and the eucalyptus and rosemary essential oils create focused energy.
Salt By Hendrix Soak Infusion
- Description: Salt By Hendrix Soak Infusion is an Australian-made botanical blend that includes Epsom salt, Himalayan pink salt and green tea.
- Editor’s notes: If you like the idea of bathing in flower petals, you’ll love this soak. The real globosa and myosotis (forget-me-not) flowers make it feel utterly decadent.
Lord Jones High CBD Formula Bath Salts
- Description: Lord Jones High CBD Formula Bath Salts contain 240 mg broad-spectrum CBD in a base of Epsom and Himalayan salts, arnica, and evergreen and citrus essential oils.
- Editor’s notes: These salts are for anyone who needs some serious TLC. With the highest concentration of CBD, they’ll melt away tension and promote a sense of calm.
Pursoma Digital Detox Bath Soak
- Description: Pursoma Digital Detox Bath Soak is made with sea salt to stimulate circulation and ease sore muscles, and French green clay to soften your skin and draw out toxins.
- Editor’s notes: This soak is meant for anyone looking to escape from digital distractions. Put away your phone and soak for 30 minutes, and then relax under a blanket to continue the detox through perspiration.
African Botanics Kalahari Desert De-Tox Bath Salts
- Description: African Botanics Kalahari Desert De-Tox Bath Salts are made with a rare, mineral-rich type of salt: Kalahari crystal, harvested from the Kalahari Desert in Africa. They’re laced with caffeine to target cellulite, and seaweed extract and marula oil to hydrate your skin.
- Editor’s notes: This splurge-worthy soak is like an all-in-one body treatment. It eases tension, boosts circulation and breaks down cellulite. Your skin is left soft, silky and hydrated.
This Works Deep Sleep Bath Soak
- Description: This Works Deep Sleep Bath Soak is all about promoting a deep and restful sleep. So the sea salt base is mixed with chamomile, lavender, patchouli and vetiver.
- Editor’s notes: This soak helps you create the best bedtime ritual, thanks to its all-natural aromatherapeutic oil blend. There is some synthetic fragrance in here, but it’s less than 1%.
Herbivore Coconut Milk Bath Soak
- Description: Herbivore Coconut Milk Bath Soak creates a milky, moisturizing bath experience with dehydrated coconut milk and baking soda (which is actually a type of salt, and is extra-soothing).
- Editor’s notes: This one has an addictive coconut and vanilla scent, and it leaves your skin so soft, you can probably skip body lotion. It’s also surprisingly inexpensive, yet looks chic on your countertop.
Susanne Kaufmann St. John’s Wort Bath
- Description: Susanne Kaufmann St. John’s Wort Bath is a luxurious soak that is high in St. John’s wort extract to calm sensitivity, plus cocoa butter and milk protein to nourish your skin.
- Editor’s notes: This blend is just the ticket for dehydrated, sunburned or stressed-out skin. It has a base of sodium bicarbonate (a.k.a. baking soda), which is actually a soothing salt—and it creates a cool fizzing effect when you add it to the water.
Naturopathica Sweet Birch Magnesium Bath Flakes
- Description: Naturopathica Sweet Birch Magnesium Bath Flakes are comprised of magnesium flakes, which are an alternative to Epsom salts, and made from some of the world’s purest natural magnesium chloride. They’re infused with sweet birch oil, which creates a unique warming sensation.
- Editor’s notes: These bath flakes are ideal if you do a lot of working out, yoga or sports. Magnesium is a surefire way to soothe sore muscles, and has been shown to reduce inflammation and pain.
Dr. Singha’s Mustard Bath
- Description: Dr. Singha’s Mustard Bath has a cult following among athletes, who swear by it for healing sore muscles post-training. The star ingredient is indeed mustard (in powdered form), along with essential oils and sodium carbonate.
- Editor’s notes: This soak is the creation of the late Dr. Shyam Singha, a London-based acupuncturist, osteopath and homeopath who was considered one of the most sought-after healers in the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s.
- Kanda, K., Tochihara, Y. & Ohnaka, T. (1999). Bathing before sleep in the young and in the elderly. European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology. 1999 Jul;80(2):71-5.
- Goto, Yasuaki, Hayasaka, Shinya, Kurihara, Shigeo & Nakamura, Yosikazu. (2018). Physical and Mental Effects of Bathing: A Randomized Intervention Study. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2018; 2018: 9521086.
- Naumann, Johannes, Grebe, Julian, Kaifel, Sonja, Weinert, Tomas, Sadaghiani, Catharina & Huber, Roman. (2017). Effects of hyperthermic baths on depression, sleep and heart rate variability in patients with depressive disorder: a randomized clinical pilot trial. BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies. 2017; 17: 172.
- Hoekstra, S. P., Bishop, N. C., Faulkner, S. H., Bailey, S. J. & Leicht, C. A. (2018). Acute and chronic effects of hot water immersion on inflammation and metabolism in sedentary, overweight adults. Journal of Applied Physiology. Vol. 125, No. 6.
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