How to Turn Your at-Home Bath Into a Detoxifying Sweat Session

Photo: Stocksy/Aleksandra Matinovic

Fun fact: You don’t necessarily need an infrared sauna or a crazy-intense workout to get your sweat on—just a bathtub and 20 minutes can do the trick.

In fact, one wellness expert says a piping-hot soak is her favorite way to get her heart rate up while deeply relaxing at the same time. “I have a baby, run a business, and have a lot of demands, but my half hour in the bathtub is a gift,” says Shannon Vaughn. (She’s so obsessed, in fact, that she created a line of detoxifying beauty and wellness treatments for the tub—Pursoma—to amplify the experience.)

The entrepreneur first discovered the health perks of bathing while in treatment for an ovarian cyst. “When I was really sick, one of the ways I got better were these soaks,” she recalls. Through trial and error, she created a sweaty protocol that gives you the benefits of a cardio workout (no, really—science says so) and, if some studies are to be believed, a heavy metal detox.

Vaughn looks at her signature bathing ritual as an opportunity for a mini digital detox, too. “When you’re soaking at home, you’re away from your phone and not doing anything but relaxing,” she says. After you capture the perfect #selfcare selfie, that is.

Keep reading to find out how to take your bath to a whole new level of healthiness—in less than an hour.

Graphic: Abby Maker for Well+Good

The 5-step formula for a perfect detox bath

1. Gather your supplies
For Vaughn, prepping for the soak is one of the most important parts. The more organized you are, she believes, the easier it’ll be to drop in and chill out. Her bath time must-haves include a one-liter bottle of filtered or spring water, a warm, thick bathrobe or thick towel, bath soak, a dry brush, hydrating skin mist, and facial serum.

2. Draw the bath
Everyone’s heat tolerance is different, so Vaughn simply recommends making the water as warm as you can stand without feeling like you’re burning. “Close the doors and windows so the bathroom gets hot and steamy,” she says. Set a timer and put your phone far away from you with the sound turned off.

Slowly ease into the tub when it’s halfway full, and keep the water running until it covers your shoulders. “If your tub's small and you have to choose between covering your upper shoulders and neck and bending your knees, choose to cover the top part of your body,” she says. (That’s because heat escapes from your upper body first—and you want to get nice and toasty.)

3. Get your soak on
Sit in the bath for 20–30 minutes while drinking half your liter of water.

4. Sweat and rest
When the timer goes off, rinse in the shower and then immediately put on your robe and lay down. “You’re going to feel your heart pounding, just like in an exercise class,” says Vaughn. “You’ll sweat more laying there than you did in the tub.” Drink the second half of your water as your heart rate gradually returns to normal—this will take about 20 minutes.

5. Sweet dreams
Vaughn says it’s best to do this ritual right before bed. “You’ll sleep really, really well,” she promises. “You get really calm and clear.” Dip, dip, hooray!

For a soak that looks as good as it feels, try drawing a mermaid bath—or giving your bathroom some spa-like decor vibes.

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