What are bath salts and why they have stood the test of time since Hippocrates’ era

Mention bath salts, and often an image of a fancy bathtub in a spa comes up. That or a confused picture of coarse salt being used in the kitchen. So, what exactly are these fancy granules that have stood the test of time since Hippocrates’ era? Here we dive deeper into their benefits and how to use them.

What are bath salts?

Sure, bath salts make for an aesthetic addition in your bathroom with their vibrant colours and attractive packaging, but are they any good? Ritu Joshi, Rooms Division Manager, Fairmont Jaipur sheds light on the same. A luxurious haven, the hotel that rests amidst the majestic Aravalli hills offers a pampering and rejuvenating experience with its well-appointed spa. She shares, “Bath salts were developed to resemble the effects of experiencing natural hot springs or mineral baths.” The expert goes on to elaborate, “In ancient Greece, Hippocrates had asked his healers to immerse the patients in seawater to make use of the salt water to cure various ailments. Bath salts are usually Epsom salts (and sometimes Himalayan salt and Dead Sea salts), baking soda and essential oils with additives to add to its properties.” In a nutshell, apart from adding to a pampering experience, the salts combined with the type of essential oil can bring about some healing and have a certain effect.

Benefits of bath salts

These little granules are believed to work in several ways, on the surface level, they help in making the skin soft and supple as well as aid in banishing those nasty tans one gets in summer. Certain bath salts are also recommended for those who suffer from conditions like eczema (though it is always best to check with your doctor instead of self-medicating). These little wonders work on a deeper level too, aiding in easing those painful headaches, muscle joints, stiffness, anxiety and stress. One of the reasons for this might be the nutrient content (such as magnesium, sulphur and potassium)  of bath salts.

Ritu shares, “Due to the effect salt has on the skin, the bath salts help in exfoliation, i.e. cleaning off dead skin cells. They also lead to the addition of more salt in the water thereby increasing its density. This leads to the body feeling lighter similar to isolation tanks used for therapies.” But this is not all, the expert goes on to say that a long soak in water mixed with bath salt relaxes the muscle tensions and even soothes the skin of any irritations and pigmentations.

How to select one

There are many ways to pick one. You can go for the colours that appeal to you. For instance, bright ones such as orange and yellow can energise whereas subtle ones like blue and lavender can soothe. You can also opt for a particular flavour and ingredient based on their therapeutic properties.

The most popular bath salts are lavender, Indian rose, lemongrass and pure citrus. Ritu elaborates on the benefits of each:

  • Lavender bath salt has anti-fungal properties.
  • Lemongrass and pure citrus bath salts have a calming effect and act as a stress buster.
  • Indian rose (Gulab) has rose petals infused in the bath salt mixture and gives a soothing factor.

It might also be what you are looking for. Ritu elaborates, “While selecting bath salts for the hotel, it is highly important to notice that they are crystalline and not semi-solid. The size of the grains/ crystals of salt determines its effectiveness. The smaller the grains, the quicker it dissolves and acts as a skin scrub. The bigger crystals make the bathing period longer thereby rejuvenating the skin.”

Then there are the types of salts:

  • Dead Sea salt: Packed with magnesium, the Dead Sea salt is highly hydrating and aids in restoring one’s moisture content. It helps soothe dry and itchy skin and conditions associated with these skin type such as eczema and psoriasis. The little wonder is also used by athletes to ease muscle cramps, soreness and body pains. Reason being, its bromide and sodium content that relaxes the uneasiness that stems from muscle aches and stiffness. With regular use, this salt can also aid in minimising pores and combating acne.
  • Himalayan salt: Sourced from the mighty Himalayas, this salt lends the skin a better texture and tone. The pinkish tinted delight removes toxins from the body and helps get rid of bloating to an extent. It can reduce stress and inflammation, relax the body making it ideal to soak into bedtime. With the presence of calcium and other trace minerals, it can ease muscle aches as well as aid in strengthening the bones to an extent. Being antiseptic, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory in nature, this salt can also alleviate symptoms of insect bites and blisters.
  • Epsom salt: Epsom salt mainly contain magnesium and sulphate which together make for a potent combination. Magnesium is also believed to promote melatonin, a hormone which helps induce sleep. The long list of this salt’s benefits includes exfoliation, softening rough skin, reducing arthritis pain and swelling. Its magnesium also promotes melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone to an extent. Interestingly, this white goodness can aid in healing the foot and ingrown toenail infections as well as reduce that nasty foot odour.

How to use a bath salt

One of the ideal ways to reap the benefits of the salt water is to mix it with the tub water and soak in it for 20 -30 minutes. Though not everyone has the luxury of a bathtub and with the water issues that arise during the summers, it is probably not feasible too often. You can also add it to water and gently rub your skin with it. To work your feet, simply add the product to the bucket and soak your feet in it. For exfoliation purposes, gently scrub them on your knees, feet and elbows with a washcloth. You can mix them with your favourite essential oils to create a specific effect (for instance lavender helps to soothe, peppermint gives a cooling effect, etc.).

Ritu says, “Bath salt can be majorly made use in two ways – During a rejuvenation bath or as a product to enhance one’s beauty. The rejuvenation bath (which is not suggested for daily routine) soothes the skin whereas bath salts as a beauty product can get rid of the toxins from the body as they are high in minerals.”

Please note: Bath salts can put on more pressure on the circulatory system. If you are suffering from any kind of ailment or are pregnant, please consult with your doctor first. Those who are sensitive to sulphur should check with their dermatologist first. Another factor you need to take into consideration is the essential oil that it is mixed with. In case the product does not suit you or you find yourself breaking into a rash, feeling dizzy, discontinue immediately.

So go ahead, take your pick and indulge in a pampering experience!

Click here to buy rejuvenating bath salts and bath oils. 

Article by – Prajna Rao


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