Self-Care Tips

‘I’m a Dermatologist and These Are the Best Bath Soaks For Every Skin Concern’

Saanya Ali

Photo: Getty/Jack Hollingsworth
Loving baths is part of my personality. Soaking in the tub gives me an excuse to light a few candles and rewatch an episode of a show I’ve seen 50+ times  with baby carrots and glass of wine sitting on the toilet seat. What really makes the experience special, though, is the salts, soaks, and bombs, which I select with the same excitement that was once reserved for choosing a rubber ducky. And it’s worth noting that these soaking accessories aren’t just pretty and fragrant: With the right ingredients, bath soaks can be an instrumental part of your body care routine.

Many of the bath products on the market are formulated with skin-boosting ingredients, which work to heal and hydrate your skin as you luxuriate in them. In fact, Stacy Chimento, MD, a board-certified dermatologist recommends using bath soaks two to three times a week for 15 to 20 minutes to achieve optimal results from the neck down. As for which ingredients you should choose, it all comes down to your skin type and what you’re looking to achieve. “Epsom salts can help exfoliate the skin to provide relief for itchy or inflamed skin resulting from conditions like psoriasis and eczema,” says Dr. Chimento, who explains that when the salts dissolve in the water, they release magnesium, which acts as a natural moisturizer. If you’re dealing with very dry or sensitive skin, though, she recommends milk-based soaks, which condition the skin without stripping it of its natural oils, leaving it softer and more nourished. And no matter what type of skin you have, you can’t go wrong with soothing ingredients, like aloe vera and chamomile.

So strip down to your birthday suit, draw yourself a bath, and scroll down for the five best bath soak ingredients for every skin type.

Best for dry skin: Coconut milk

best bath soaks
Photo: Sephora

During the colder months, hot baths can have drying effects on your skin, but that doesn’t mean that a soothing soak is out of the question.  Dr. Chimento suggests finding a milk-based soak derived from coconut milk or a milk protein that can help nourish and hydrate the skin as you relax. With all-natural fragrances from plant-based, organic, and food-grade ingredients that blend together and make your whole bathroom smell like a tropical oasis, this soak in particular is perfect for winter dry skin.

Shop now: Herbivore Coconut Milk Bath Soak, $18

Best for eczema: Colloidal oatmeal

best bath soaks
Photo: Walmart

If you struggle with eczema, you’re probably no stranger to the skin-saving powers of colloidal oatmeal. When it comes to bath time, Shirley Chi, MD, a board-certified dermatologist based in California, recommends swapping your fragrant bubbles for a sprinkle of this oatmeal soak in warm (read: not hot) water. In addition to helping to calm eczema, it’s also great for soothing dry, itchy skin, and can even help with more severe irritation like hives, poison ivy, and sunburns.

Shop now: Aveeno Soothing Bath Treatment, $7

Best for oily or acne prone skin: Epsom salts

best bath soaks
Photo: Walmart

Due to the anti-inflammatory properties and soothing effects of magnesium, epsom salts can help reduce breakouts and combat inflammation on the skin. And what’s more? The salts can  also help dry up excess oil, and double as a physical exfoliant to remove dry skin cells and reduce blackheads, whiteheads, and dullness.

Shop now: Dr. Teal’s Pure Epsom Salt Soaking Solution, $5

Best for sensitive skin: St. John’s wort

best bath soaks
Photo: Bloomingdales

For dehydrated or sensitive skin, a soak with soothing, St. John’s wort extract is just the ticket. The ingredient gently targets inflammation in the skin, and the cocoa butter and milk proteins it’s combined with in this particular formula help to nourish the skin and lock in moisture.  Though it’s on the pricier side, you’ll only need a little sprinkle to reap its benefits each time you bathe, so a single bottle will last you well through the winter.

Shop now: Susanne Kaufmann St. John’s Wort Bath, $67

Best for combination skin: Aloe

best bath soaks

No matter what type of skin you have, you can’t go wrong with aloe, which has hydrating, antibacterial, and acne-fighting properties.  “Aloe vera leaves, particularly in the innermost layer, are abundant with water, so it helps to hydrate the skin and seal in moisture,” Gretchen Frieling, MD, a board-certified dermatopathologist, previously told Well+Good. “The sugars it contains, also known as mucopolysaccharides, aid in retaining moisture in the skin.”  If you’re like me and are mesmerized by the fizz of a bath bomb every time you take a soak, this four-pack of aloe-infused bombs is for you. They’re formulated without synthetic fragrances or dyes, and the combination of aloe and cocoa butter help condition, hydrate, and nourish the skin.

Shop now: Jacq’s Organic Hibiscus and Aloe Organic Bath Bomb, $13

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