I Tried ‘Vagus Nerve’ Bath Oil To Help My Stress—And It Really Beats Regular Bubble Bath

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Over the past two years, like most of us, how I spend my money and time has shifted. It used to be that if I had any “walking around cash” (that’s a term my grandma used, meaning leftover money after bills are paid), I’d spend on clothes or sushi. But post-pandemic my priorities have changed, and now the things that top my list are any product or any service that reduces stress.

I’ve always been a bath person, and during quarantine that only intensified and I would take 2 p.m. baths on a Tuesday. Supposedly (it was hard to find an actual study or data on this, so bear with me), one of the reasons baths are so relaxing is that being submerged in a warm tub is one of the closest states we have to being back in the womb. But it’s also just nice to drink a glass of red wine or mug of tea while watching a documentary in the tub–something we couldn’t do in the womb.

I’ve been a fan of the brand Osea for years for its scents and clean, natural ingredients. So when they launched their new Vagus Nerve Bath Oil ($48), it immediately piqued my interest. The vagus nerve has become the “nerve of the moment,” with #vagusnerve TikTok videos viewed more than 81 million times. And while research is still developing, there are studies that show stimulating the vagus nerve can create a calming effect and lower stress.

What is the vagus nerve? 

And by this point you’re probably asking: um, what is the vagus nerve? I reached out to Aviva Romm, MD, and author of the New York Times bestseller, Hormone Intelligence, to explain. “The vagus nerve is the tenth cranial nerve, and it extends from your brain stem down to your gut,” says Dr. Romm. “It’s the longest and most complex cranial nerve in your body.” It’s named after the Latin word for “wandering,” since it’s the longest cranial nerve in the body.

Why is the vagus nerve important?

The vagus nerve is directly connected to the reduction of stress, and so that’s why it should be on everyone’s radar. “The vagus nerve is involved in our relaxation response, and it allows us to reset from the stress most of us are chronically under,” explains Dr. Romm. “And resetting from stress is deeply important for optimal functioning throughout our endocrine, digestive, neurologic and cardiovascular systems.” And you can actually locate your vagus nerve yourself. “If you want to find your vagus nerve, put one hand at the back of your neck and then the other on your throat and move it down towards your gut, taking a deep breath,” explains Dr. Romm.

What ingredients in Osea’s vagus nerve bath oil make it effective?

“The soothing blend of essential oils containing chamomile, juniper berry, lavender, lemon tea tree and Moroccan rosemary helps soak away signs of stress. The chamomile, in particular, delivers a deep relaxing note,” explains Dr. Romm. “When the body is stressed, the vagus nerve signals your body to relax. The more toned your vagus nerve is, the more effective this relaxation response will be.”

How do you use it?

Ok, now that we’ve got a handle on what the vagus nerve does, time for the actual bath oil review. It’s not like a bubble bath where you need to pour it under running water. I drew a warm bath and poured a generous amount onto the surface of the water. Then I used my hand to gently swirl it all together.

The first thing I noticed was the scent: It’s incredible. It truly is hard to describe, but it smells like a luxury spa. The fragrance notes are so clean. It’s absolutely one of the best scented bath products I’ve ever used. So many beauty products claim to be “spa-like” experiences, but I personally think scented oils give the closest thing to a spa experience. The scent is what instantly relaxed me and cleared my mind of the day’s thoughts.

What does it feel like after?

Afterwards, I definitely felt calmer—although I do after any relaxing bath experience. It was similar to taking a lavender bubble bath, but what made it more calming is that unlike a bubble bath, this oil left my skin so luxuriously soft–like level 10 smooth. And I personally always sleep better when I have clean, smooth skin. And the scent cannot be beat. If you’re still skeptical because you’re more of a shower person, I’ll leave you with a pro-tip from Dr. Romm. “If you’re not a bath person, pour some of the product onto a washcloth and let the shower water bounce off the cloth to get that aromatization; you will still feel relaxed.”

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Our editors independently select these products. Making a purchase through our links may earn Well+Good a commission.

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