To me, baths have always been a last resort—something you do if you're at an old-timey bed and breakfast that has only a clawfoot tub. This is something that was further cemented by living in New York as an adult and finding that bathtubs aren't usually an inviting part of the washroom set up. But when this came up at the Well+Good office, it derailed a meeting, sending us into a deep discussion of bath etiquette and whether it's relaxing...or disgusting. Below, the four sudsy sides of the debate.
The anti-bath argument
The minute my parents allowed me to choose between a bath and a shower, I stopped taking baths. To me, the concept has always been...icky, to say the least. Aside from the discomfort and potential hazards of stewing in a cauldron of hot water (pruny-ness, heat exhaustion, dead skin floaters), it's an oxymoron to marinate in your own filth to get clean. And yes, I hear and understand the argument that it's relaxing, but you know what else is? Like 50 other things (meditation! Netflix! face masks!) that don't require you to park it in water spiked with the dirt and grime that come off your skin. I mean, really how relaxing can an experience be if you're thinking of all the different types of contact dermatitis and fungal warts you might be getting? —Yours truly
The pro-bath argument
I am a life-long bath taker and come from a long-line of bath takers. Both my parents are completely pro-bath, and my brother is the only person from my nuclear family that somehow ended up being devoted to showers (maybe he's adopted?). For me, a night-time bath is non-negotiable. Nothing relaxes me more after a long day than wading in the hottest water I can physically stand and luxuriating in as many products as possible. That includes face wash, fancy soap, bubble bath, and all the hair products. At this point, it's difficult for me to go to sleep without taking a bath because it just relaxes my muscles (as in, clenched shoulders from hunching over a keyboard) and sends an instant "bedtime" cue to my brain. It's basically like a full-body mug of hot tea. —Eva Rohan, director of branded content
The bathe-then-shower argument
I’ve never really been a bath person. First of all, city bathtubs just never look clean, no matter how much you scrub and bleach them. But on the rare occasion when I want a warm place to read in peace with no one around to bother me, I take a soak. I try to relax for as long as I can (usually 15 minutes), and then I absolutely MUST shower. After soaking in a bath, I need to truly suds up and rinse off by taking a shower. Otherwise, I’d feel like I'm covered in grime and dirtier than before I even got in there. —Rachel Lapidos, associate editor
The shower-then-bathe argument
I live in New York City, so the thought of sitting in a basin of lukewarm water mixed with whatever nastiness the Manhattan air stuck onto my skin in a given day is enough to make me gag (just typing that actually gave me a full-body shudder). Before getting in the bath, I shower and scrub my body completely, which includes washing my hair. Because, I don’t care what anyone says — washing your hair in bathwater that's just surrounded your derrière is straight up disgusting. To me, bathing isn’t so much about getting clean as it is about relaxing and chilling out, so my routine requires a separate step to make sure both get done. Plus, I’m usually too deep into my book to want to bother actually washing, anyway. —Zoe Weiner, associate editor
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