Rather than suffer the long dark teatime of the soul (© Douglas Adams) that is Sunday afternoons, I usually cook. Then, early evening, I take Toby for a walk and run a bath. The rest of the evening is taken up with bath and post-bath activities.
This time of year, of course, with Easter and other public holiday quirks, Sunday evening rituals are something of a movable feast (history/etymology buffs: did you see what I did there?) and can leech over into Monday. But the ritual is the same nonetheless. I will now share my ritual with you for your reading pleasure.
Whilst the bath is running, I would usually remove my nail varnish (particularly my toes, as I have permanently cold feet, so my toes rarely see light of day outside socks). Except that is a lie; my intention is to do this, but I often forget until the bath is fully run. Then it is too late, unless I want to get into a cold bath.
You may be wondering why, if I so rarely see my toes, why I bother to paint them. The answer is two-fold. First, I have picked my (hand) nails since I was three and they are in a parlous state; I would never dare a bold colour on them if I were actually venturing out of the house. So bright colours have nowhere to go but my toes. Second, there is something very cheering about a quick flash of scarlet or purple greeting you as you put on your socks of a morning.
Back to the bath. I always put something in the water, usually with bubbles. I think I may be channelling 80’s soap operas starring Joan Collins when I do so, but it ups my glamour rating even though I’m the only one there. Most commonly this is a bath bomb or similar from Lush (Butter Balls being my favourite), but I’ve been known to use a dollop of shower gel if need be. The other week, though, my massage therapist recommended Aromatherapy Associates’ Support Equilibrium Bath & Shower Oil (55ml for £40 from Space NK), and there was an online offer to be used. It spooked me a little to have see-through water, but it smelled beautiful.
Aromatherapy Associates – ignore the Kleenex
In my last flat (please bear in mind I live on my own and therefore this is perfectly socially acceptable!), it was possible to watch the TV in the living room whilst lying in the bath, provided the doors were left open. This inspired me, on moving to this flat, to purchase a portable DVD player for bathtime film night. Please do not fret, those of a health and safety persuasion; I am not risking electrocution (or at least not in a routine way – I don’t rule out the possibility of the DVD player falling in the bath, but the number of events that would have to occur to make it so leave me satisfied with my risk management). The DVD player sits on the toilet seat, which is lower than the bath top. The DVD player may risk permanent damage if I start splashing about vigorously, but not the other way around.
Over time I have developed a keen understanding of the specific requirements for a film that is suitable to watch in the bath. Whilst subtitled films are ok (provided I keep my glasses on, which I generally do, as I am so short-sighted I might have trouble finding the shampoo etc without them), they require too much concentration on the screen for my preferred bath time experience. Action films, thrillers and comedies are perfect, and – although you may think the bath would be the perfect place for a weepie – I tend to avoid films involving too much emotional upheaval during my “relaxing bath” time. Sorry, Schindler’s List, another night for you. I am sure that, in the fullness of time, I shall switch to using a laptop or ipad to access a filmstreaming service, but for now, I use the Lovefilm by Post option (I know the name has changed, but I get confused calling everything Amazon, even though everything is). The advantage of this, for me, is that it provides a “lucky dip” element to bath night, as I end up watching whatever has arrived. I know this limits my choice (and occasionally creates situations like last week where I was watching Best Laid Plans and had to switch mid-bath to a streamed episode of Green Wing instead, as I had deep forebodings about the likely ending (which I should have been able to predict, given the title…). I still haven’t watched it; don’t tell me the ending – I am choosing to believe that Joseph and Isabel settle down to run an angling business, and Danny gives up the drugs and becomes their carer together with Lisa, who switches careers to become a children’s author, and they all live happily ever after. Given that it’s loosely based on Of Mice and Men, it’s unlikely, but I didn’t know that when I added it to my wishlist), but too much choice can be as oppressive as too little, you know?
Incidentally, and don’t ask me why this has popped into my head, but a book I really liked as a child included the sage advice that mangoes should only ever be eaten in the bath. At the time, it being the late seventies, I had no idea what a mango was and would not have been able to pick one out of a line-up. However it has left a deep word association in me between “bath” and “mango”. Now I have actually eaten a mango, I can see what the character meant, although I would prefer mango-related advice to be on the dismantling (aka cutting) thereof, rather than the eating of mangoes. While sticky, I am certain I can consume mango quite easily, whereas getting the blooming stone out without losing significant amounts of flesh (the mango’s or my own) is infinitely trickier. The book, in case you wish to learn more, was My Friend Mr Leakey and it also involves a magic carpet.
Those of you reading this post for my beauty secrets can resume attention, as I’m about to get onto the “bath” aspects of bath night. Since getting more active with the whole “beauty” malarkey, the products I use on bath night have increased significantly beyond the “soap, shampoo, conditioner” triad. So here goes my pamper list:
- To set the mood, during and after my bath, I light candles in the bathroom (current favourite: Jo Malone’s Sweet Almond & Macaroon Candle – £39 for 200g), close the curtains and dim the lights in the bedroom, spritz the sheet and pillowcase with this works’ Deep Sleep Pillow Spray (£16 for 75ml from Feel Unique), turn my electric blanket on and finally pop my pyjamas and bed socks under the duvet so they will be toasty warm. I know it seems odd to use an electric blanket as we are beginning summer, but it’s still chilly in the evenings and I only discovered electric blankets in December, so excuse me (mine was £46.99 from Amazon, and I am a complete convert).
- Once in the bath, first, I shampoo my hair. I’m currently trying out a beauty box product, but would usually use something from a supermarket that smells nice.
- Then conditioner. I have recently tried out Lee Stafford’s Argan Oil from Morocco Deep Nourishing Treatment (£14.99 for 200ml from Boots – and why does everything have to have such long names?) and cannot say enough good things about it. It says to apply this between shampoo and conditioner, but I find it difficult to believe there is a need for conditioning after this. It suggests massaging it into the hair from roots to ends, then leaving it in for five minutes, and using once or twice a week. So once I’ve put it on, the hair goes up and my bathing regimen moves itself on (for now) to my face.
Deep Nourishing Treatment – my hair turns into mermaid’s hair
- First, clean – or rather, as we’re in the beauty world – cleanse the face. Up until recently, this would be judicious application of whatever shower gel I’m using on the rest of me, followed by a wet flannel. As I’m trying to be more thoughtful of my skin, I’m now washing it with something designed for the job – either Garnier Daily Energising Gel Wash (£3.33 for 200ml from Boots) because the fruity smell is just gorgeous, or Body Shop Camomile Sumptuous Cleansing Butter (£12 for 100ml) for when I’m feeling more ascetic.
Face washes galore
- This next step varies; exfoliate or face mask. I’m using No.7 Beautiful Skin Radiance Exfoliator (£8.50 for 75ml from Boots) at the moment, although sometimes I use a really old one that has been knocking about in my bathroom for a while, and I doubt it’s even still stocked: Body Shop’s Black Velvet Apricot Body Smoother. Last week, I tried a face mask instead (Montagne Jeunesse Nut Oil Masque Baobab Oil & Marula Oil – £1 per mask, 15g, from Boots), which was lovely, although – little tip from me – if you’ve got a “tear-open” face mask, don’t forget to take the scissors with you into the bathroom, because soggy fingers can barely rip a tissue, never mind one of those packets. Clambering out of a nice, warm bath to go searching for scissors should not be part of anyone’s evening ritual. I am really looking forward to the chocolate one though.
Radiance Exfoliator – trust me, you may not see them from here, but the scrub is in there
- Body time. I have not decided yet on the best way to exfoliate all over. I have some gloves (He-Shi Exfoliating Gloves, £3.20 from Feel Unique) which certainly feel like they’re taking all the dead skin off, and I also use Body Shop Body Scrubs (£12.50 for 100ml), which smell fantastic (the Chocomania one in particular is divine). I have a feeling, though, that there is little point using both at once; it feels like the scrub just gets stuck in the gloves for all the good it does. So, until someone tells me otherwise, I shall be alternating gloves and whatever shower gel/body wash comes to hand (and smells nice), with said gel followed by a scrub.
Body Shop scrubs and butters – they smell even better than they look
- Shaving (where I feel is necessary). That’s a whole other post in itself, I suspect.
- Take face mask off and rinse hair treatment out. The film is unlikely to have finished by now, but I can always carry on watching it in bed; this is the advantage of a portable DVD player (although mine is currently on the blink, with only 20 minutes of battery life, so most of the film is being watched in bed, if I’m honest – with the trusty iPad taking over entertainment duties for the rest of the bath).
- Once out of the bath, I’ll moisturise with Body Shop Body Butters (£13 for 200ml), which can be slathered on as heavily as your preference dictates. At the moment I’m mixing the new Raspberry butter with, what I thought was Cocoa Butter but turned out to be, Coconut – which is very pleasant smell-wise indeed.
- I then give my hair a gentle rub and add a little Herbal Essences Beautiful Ends Split End Protection Cream (£4.79 for 150ml from Boots) to the ends. I couldn’t truthfully tell you if it makes any difference, but again I’ve been suckered in by the heavenly raspberry smell. I then comb my hair through with a wide-toothed comb (£3.99 from Boots) and either let it dry naturally or wrap it up again in my turban (£14.95 from Amazon) until I dry it just before lights out.
Split End Protection Cream
- If I’m not cream crackered, I may well paint my finger and toe nails at this point. If I do, a little pause is in order before my last ritual step – which suits a bit of face pampering.
- Then it’s whatever your night time face involves (mine is Korres Pomegranate Tonic Lotion – £14 for 200ml from Feel Unique – followed by Vitamin E Overnight Conditioning Serum-in-Oil – £12 for 28ml from the Body Shop – and finally Pai’s Echium & Argan Gentle Eye Cream – I don’t remember where I got mine but it’s listed here as £28 for 15ml – and No.7 Protect & Perfect Intense Night Cream – £24 for 50ml from Boots).
- Finally, I heavily moisturise my hands and feet – hands with the Body Butter, feet with Peppermint Intensive Foot Rescue (£9 for 100ml from the Body Shop) – and pop gloves and socks on (again, from the Body Shop, £7 per pair).
I tend to wash my hair twice a week, but I have no truck with all that dry shampoo shenanigans. I don’t always remember, but when I do, the night before a scheduled hair wash, I add a secret ingredient to my hair. It helps me feel happier about my on-the-turn hair, and I heartily recommend it. It’s Umberto Giannini Overnight Magic Hair Repair and in the photo below, the bottle on the left is my drug of choice. However I’m running low and, as well as changing its packaging (which is a crying shame because – whilst the new stuff may be more environmentally sound (I’m assuming) – it doesn’t make me feel old world glamour like the old packaging did), the name has changed to Overnight Beauty Moisture Balm so I can’t be certain it’s the same thing. If it is, snap it up immediately because it’s lovely (£6 for 150ml from Boots).
Well, I’m quite worn out, getting all of that down, and sourced, and photographed. It’s taken me more than two weeks to write all of that, so I hope you enjoy the read! Happy bath night.