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The Best Essential Oils To Add To Your Bath Routine (And How To Do It Safely)

Overview

Essential oils can elevate your bath routine and add many stress-relieving and muscle-soothing benefits, but doing it wrong has its risks. Read on to learn more about the correct ways to use essential oils and the best essential oils for baths.

Can You Put Essential Oils In A Bath?

Yes, you can! However, essential oils aren't water-soluble which means that they don't mix in water. So if you're adding your oils directly into the bathtub and climbing in, we have bad news for you: you're doing it wrong. Doing so has the same effect as applying undiluted essential oil directly onto the skin, which can irritate and burn. Yikes! Not good results for what's supposed to be a relaxing ritual.

How To Safely Add Essential Oils In Bath Water

You don’t want essential oils to sit on top of the water; you want them distributed throughout your bath. The best way is to combine essential oils in a carrier oil first, like coconut, sunflower, or jojoba. Three to 12 drops of essential oil in a tablespoon (15 ml) of carrier oil is sufficient to create a very aromatic, therapeutic bath, but stir the water first before climbing in to help circulate oils.

Best Essential Oils For Bath Routines

Are you wondering which essential oils work best for bath time? We’ve got you covered! Here are 20 of the best essential oils to add to your bath routines.

1. Lavender Essential Oil

Lavender-scented baths?! The Romans were one of the first civilizations to have them! Lavender is an essential bath oil to have in your arsenal. Lavender aromatherapy is thought to calm anxiety by affecting the limbic system, the part of the brain that regulates emotions.

Scent Profile: Floral and herbaceous

2. Eucalyptus Essential Oil

Feeling congested? Eucalyptus oil in bath water helps keep your airways clear and boosts your body’s defenses, while its minty and herbaceous scent relieves you from headaches and nausea.

Scent Profile: Minty, herbaceous and woodsy

3. Jasmine Essential Oil

Widely used in perfume-making since the times of Cleopatra, Jasmine oil can have a calming effect without causing sleepiness. Its sweet scent can evoke feelings of romance which makes it a great oil to use for bath times for two ;)

Scent Profile: Floral and sweet

4. Lemon Essential Oil

Lemon essential oil bath water helps you look and feel your best! It cleanses skin for radiant beauty and boosts moods for glowing confidence. However, it's good to remember that lemon and other citrus oils make your skin very sensitive to the sun, so we recommend using this as part of your nightly self-care routine.

Scent Profile: Sweet and citrusy

5. Bergamot Essential Oil

Bergamot oil has a zesty and uplifting scent that relieves stress and improves moods. It also cleanses oily skin and clears breakouts.

Scent Profile: Sweet, tangy and citrusy

6. Roman Chamomile Essential Oil

Roman chamomile is well known for its relaxing effects and pleasant aroma. It also soothes dry and irritated skin and relieves arthritis symptoms.

Scent Profile: Floral and herbaceous

7. Rose Otto Essential Oil

Rose otto oil for baths has a sensual aroma that creates a peaceful, loving, and nurturing environment while encouraging a healthy complexion.

Scent Profile: Sweet and floral

8. Grapefruit Essential Oil

Grapefruit oil increases your energy levels. It’s zesty scent is uplifting for the senses and makes a great oil for daytime baths.

Scent Profile: Sweet, citrusy and tangy

9. Ylang Ylang Essential Oil

Ylang Ylang baths have an exotic scent that's great for relaxation and stress relief. It is popularly used in aromatherapy to uplift moods and cultivate feelings of romance.

Scent Profile: Floral and sweet

10. Frankincense Essential Oil

Known for its spiritual benefits, Frankincense oil in bath water has a grounding scent that can significantly alleviate anxiety and stress. It also has anti-aging benefits for the skin.

Scent Profile: Warm and woodsy with balsamic notes

11. Clary Sage Essential Oil

Made from a spiritual plant, Clary Sage oil in bath water has grounding and relaxing benefits. It also balances hormone levels and gets you in the mood for a good night’s rest.

Scent Profile: Herbaceous and earthy with floral notes

12. Patchouli Essential Oil

Patchouli is used in Ayurvedic medicine to manage stress and anxiety. It also moisturizes the skin and combines well with Lavender oil in bath water to create a relaxing bath time experience.

Scent Profile: Earthy, woodsy and herbaceous

13. Sweet Orange Essential Oil

Chase away negativity with uplifting and zesty Sweet Orange oil. It brightens your skin and soothes body aches, making it ideal for self-care on the weekends.

Scent Profile: Sweet and citrusy

14. Marjoram Essential Oil

Marjoram was often utilized by the ancient Greeks to treat many ailments. Today it’s used to relieve body cramps, calm stress and clear airways for better sleep.

Scent Profile: Minty, herbaceous and spicy

15. Tea Tree Essential Oil

A popular antibacterial, Tea Tree oil in bath water is a great cleanser used to soothe troubled skin as it speeds up the healing process for wounds and fights skin infections.

Scent Profile: Herbaceous and leafy

16. Peppermint Essential Oil

Peppermint oil is ideal for morning baths. It refreshes your senses and eases morning colds for a smooth, undisrupted day.

Scent Profile: Fresh, sweet and minty

17. Lemongrass Essential Oil

Refreshing and exotic lemongrass is used in spas to lift your mood and relieve tense muscles, which makes using lemongrass oil in baths a great way to recreate that spa-like feel at home.

Scent Profile: Herbaceous, earthy and zesty

18. Rosemary Essential Oil

Rosemary oil in bath water cleanses and moisturizes the skin while relieving body cramps and renewing concentration.

Scent Profile: Herbaceous

19. Cedarwood Essential Oil

Cedarwood oil soothes skin discomfort and promotes hair growth. Its soothing scent is perfect for therapeutic showers after a full-day.

Scent Profile: Warm, woody and pine-like

20. Sandalwood Essential Oil

Sandalwood is a holy symbol in Indian cultural practices often offered to the gods and goddesses. This woodsy oil helps calm the mind and boosts concentration for productive days at work.

Scent Profile: Woody and earthy

Bath & Shower Essential Oil DIYs

How To Create The Perfect Bubble Bath

In a small bottle, dilute the essential oil with a carrier oil, add in a small amount of castile soap or body gel, shake it vigorously and then add it in as the water is running.

How To Create A Muscle-Soothing Bath

Essential oils can be mixed with one another to create a concoction for your needs. For a muscle-soothing bath, use marjoram, lemongrass and lavender together.

How To Use Essential Oils In Shower

You don’t need a bathtub to use essential oils for aromatherapy. To use essential oils in the shower, add three to five drops of essential oil to the wall or outer edge of your shower and shower with hot water. The hot water will diffuse the scent.

Benefits of Essential Oils for Bath

There are different ways of performing aromatherapy, but a luxurious hot bath seems like utter bliss. Now, there may be proponents of aromatherapy through inhalation or massage, but sinking your body in warm aromatic water at the end of a hard day’s work seems like a better option. (And anyway, one has to take a bath after getting a massage.) Many studies have proven the mental health benefits of using essential oils in bath water. The happiness and relaxation is on another level.

But, did you know that lying in a pool of water with essential oils is not just a boon for the psyche, but its benefits extend to physical well-being as well. It has positive benefits for the heart, respiratory tract, digestive system, muscular system etc. The North American Journal for Medical Sciences in 2014 published a study that shows the positive effects of hydrotherapy on the different systems of the body (1). Now that we have established the positive effects of a hot bath or hydrotherapy, we know that adding essential oil or oils to the mix will only boost the health benefits.

The concentrated plant extracts have several therapeutic benefits imparted to it by the several compounds (with health benefits) that make up the oil. Let us read and learn more about the benefits of bathing with essential oil-infused water.

Health Benefits of Essential Oils For Bath

In the zeitgeist of the modern urban world, bathing has lost its tag of pampering time. No one indulges in bathing anymore; it is more of a routine that everyone tries to get done with quickly. Even those who have a quick bath can add a few drops of essential oils to the water and heal the body. What is aromatherapy? The aromas do heal the body, but you have to do your part and slow down, relax and enjoy; participate in the therapy. Not only does a good relaxing bath relieve the day’s stress, it also induces sleep (by balancing the hormones), improves heart health, reduces muscle and joint pain or soreness and eliminates fatigue. A hot water bath with the right essential oils may reduce weight (or improve hunger).

A Little Bit About Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is not a modern-day concept. It has been in practice for thousands of years. Its therapeutic properties have been known since a long time and it was used to cure and prevent several ailments. The essential oils used in aromatherapy were extracted from different plants (from its flowers, barks, roots, fruits, petals, etc.). In fact, several kilos or pounds of the raw materials are needed to make a tiny amount of oil. (This is why these oils are expensive.) There are over 100 essential oils derived from over 100 different species of plants, so obviously it is safe to claim that there are over 100 different fragrances of essential oil, with subtle variations. These essential oils also have different compounds and hence different health benefits. Combining the aromas augments the benefits of these oils. You can blend different essential oils and maybe you will craft a perfect aromatic experience.

Hence, the combination of bathing with hot water mixed with essential oils has several health benefits for the mind, body and soul. Let’s list the benefits one by one.

Good For Mental Health

No doubts for guessing this benefit. Essential oils for bath relieve stress as it can calm a racing mind. Stress, anxiety, negative emotion and needless to say, depression, are all, unfortunately, part and parcel of daily lives. It can affect anyone in the family. It is better to give the mind some relaxation very now and then. Soaking the body in hot water infused with plant oils to your bath slows down the unbridled thoughts in the mind and helps it focus on the present. There are several oils that one can choose from including lavender, sandalwood, lemon and tea tree. If you are taking a bath late in the evening, it is recommended to avoid citrus oils. However, if you are taking a bath in the morning, then choose citrus based oils as it infuses energy. The Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing in 2018 published a peer-reviewed study that relives the effect of lavender oil on sleep and anxiety (2).

Good for Quiet Nap Time

Safety

There is no replacement for a good night’s sleep. Even the healthiest and happiest person may sometimes complain of having sleep problems. There are so many sleep disorders from late sleep to restless leg syndrome. A warm bath with plant oils (used as bath bomb or bath salts, but try to avoid liquid dyes) also unwinds the body and when done properly in the evening helps with sleep and treats insomnia. Does hot water bathing improve sleep or are we just making it up? Well, only science has the answer and in this case science does have the answer. The Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry and Neurology first published a study in 1996 which tried to evaluate the effects of heat on insomniacs. It was found that after hot bath, the participants could get deeper and more restful sleep also called sleep continuity (3).

When the body cools suddenly after the hot bath, the body releases the hormone melatonin which regulates the sleep-wake cycle. The hormone, the essential oil’s sedative nature, and a relaxed mind all contribute to sound sleep. Now, you cannot use any essential oil for sleeping. Oils with good sedative properties are used to induce sleep. Some of the essential oils for bath that induce sleep are lavender essential oil, patchouli essential oil, tea tree essential oil, vetiver essential oil, bergamot essential oil, chamomile essential oil, peppermint essential oil and marjoram essential oil. Disperse the oils in the bath tub for aromatherapy bath time routine and promote relaxation and sleep.

Relaxes Joints and Muscles and Treat Inflammation and Pain

Muscles and joints ache and pain after a hectic day work or play. In old people the joints actually creak. The easy way to lower inflammation of the muscles and joints is to soak in hot water with oils having anti-inflammatory properties. What does the hot water bath do to the body? It improves the blood circulation to the muscles and joints and helps it relax. It is used to mitigate the stiffness due to arthritis or lower back pain. Hot water immersion also increased the bioavailability of nitric oxide in the body that increases blood flow and provides health benefits. This is based on a research published in the Journal of Applied Physiology in December 2018 (4).

There are several essential oils with anti-inflammatory, analgesic and stimulant properties that are used to treat and mitigate muscle pain and joint pain. As you are using these essential oils for pain in bath water, you can blend two to three essential oils. These essential oils are peppermint, lavender, tea tree, patchouli, eucalyptus, ginger, clove bud, rosemary, thyme, yarrow, Roman chamomile, German chamomile, cypress, sandalwood, black pepper, Clary sage, juniper and lemongrass.

Blood Pressure Control and Heart Health

Before delving into this benefit of essential oils for bath, we should know about a study published in the Journal of Physiology in 2015. The study proved that heat therapy improved the blood pressure and endothelium‐dependent dilatation. It also improved the arterial stiffness which resulted in better and proper blood flow (5).

Taking a hot immersive aromatic bath is thus good for cardiovascular health. Have you missed your workout? Take a dip in hot water and lower your blood pressure level and open up your arteries for better blood flow. A low blood pressure is good for heart health and better blood has its many benefits. To boost the blood circulation and regulate or lower blood pressure, you need to use a blend of essential oils. These oils include bergamot, cedarwood, citronella, Clary sage frankincense, hyssop, valerian, neroli, helichrysum, grapefruit, rose, cypress and lemongrass.

Eliminate Sinus and Throat Infections with Essential Oils Baths

Winter season is no longer the culprit that affects everyone around with common colds, coughs and flu. Lower immune system, pollution, stress, new viruses and lifestyle habits all contribute to us catching the (not so) occasional cold. We know that the body rises its temperature toward of the pathogens. So, why not take a hot water bath with essential oils and prevent or treat colds. The aroma of certain essential oils also opens the nasal passage, which eliminates phlegm and allows proper breathing. Flavor and Fragrance Journal published a study in its special issue of 2015 that essential oils with antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties could lower the symptoms of respiratory tract diseases and respiratory tract infections (6). So what are some of the oils that you can use to fight cold and coughs and flu? The top two oils are of course eucalyptus essential oil and peppermint essential oil. The other essentials oils for cold and flu are clove, cypress, pine, thyme, cinnamon, niaouli, ginger, geranium, nutmeg, tea tree, lemon and chamomile.

Hydrates and Protects Skin

Essential oils have antimicrobial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties; and soaking in hot water baths boosts blood circulation in the skin which brings with it nourishment for the skin. The warm water is sufficient to give the skin a good treatment, but essential oils must be added for these oils to protect the skin’s natural oil. Those with sensitive skin type can read the guidelines listed by the National Eczema Association. The article tells how people with eczema can us the soak and seal method of bathing. Essential oils in your bath can cause skin irritation; s do a patch test first (7).

There are different skin types so here we will only list the essential oils that are effective for all skin types. So the essential oils for bath suitable for all skin types are lavender, geranium, chamomile, rose, basil, neroli, helichrysum, cedarwood, orange and patchouli.

For Better Mood and Happiness

What happens when you are bathing in hot water, relaxing and inhaling the aroma of essential oils? You feel nice, but unbeknownst to you the body regulates the hormone serotonin that makes you happy. It boosts your mood and in a way prevents depressive disorders. In this case even a cold water bath with the proper essential oils can be a measure against depression. It definitely eliminates fatigue. The scientists at Monash University published their study in Neurochemistry International in 2021. The study concur the mood improvement activity after inhaling the aroma of essential oils (8).

Most of the floral and citrus based essential oils can be used to improve the mood and feel happiness. Some other oils include frankincense, ylang ylang and peppermint.

Hot Water Bath For Losing Weight

Don’t get too excited. You still have to exercise regularly, watch your calorie intake and make lifestyle. Merely taking a hot water bath will not help you lose weight. However, what a hot water bath does for the body is it improves the glucose metabolism and burns calories up to 140 calories. A small walk for 1 mile will burn 100 calories, so a hot water bath does have a small impact. The Journal of Physiology published this article back in 2018 (9).

This is not the only study. Another study showed how heat therapy or hot water bathing lower body fat percentage and lowered cardiovascular risk factors in type-2 diabetes patients (10).

Meanwhile research published in Phytotherapy Research in November 2010 concluded that lime essential oil played an important role in weight loss in lab mice. Another study concluded that the bioactivities of sweet orange essential oils could aid weight loss. This was published in Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry in 2019. In both cases more human trials were suggested (11) (12).

Two or more essential oils must be mixed in the bath water to increase the chances of weight loss. Some of the oils that can be used are lime, sweet orange, lemon, bergamot, grapefruit, cinnamon, fennel, ginger and black pepper.

DIY Recipes Essential Oils for Bath

Calmness Overload

Ingredients

  • 6 drops of tangerine
  • 3 drops of petitgrain
  • 3 drops of coriander
  • 2 drops of ylang-ylang

Clean, Clear Sinus

Ingredients

  • 5 drops of eucalyptus
  • 4 drops of Lavender
  • 3 drops of Cajeput
  • 2 drops of oregano

Mood Booster Mix

Ingredients

  • 3 drops of lemon
  • 3 drops of tangerine
  • 2 drops of lime
  • 2 drops of grapefruit

Safety

Essential oils are great for self-care routines. However, we should also take care and caution when using them to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe! Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind.

  1. Read the label and instructions to make sure you’re using the oil correctly.
  2. Make sure to dilute the essential oil in a carrier oil for safe application.
  3. Avoid using essential oils on sensitive areas like the eyes and nose.
  4. Don’t use essential oils in the bath if you have sunburn or broken skin unless it’s mentioned on the bottle or label.
  5. Keep essential oils out of reach from kids and furkids.
  6. Some oils may make you sensitive to sun damage, so be sure to load up on SPF.
  7. If you show signs of irritation, stop using and consult a health professional.
  8. Be careful when stepping out of the bathtub as the essential oils may make things slippery.
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