Fashion stalwart Naomi Campbell may be blessed with supermodel genes, but she also takes extreme measures to stay looking so good — from consuming 30 supplements a day to weekly juice cleanses.
So it’s not surprising that when she runs herself a bath she takes things up a notch. Recently she revealed she bathes in a ‘calming’ blend of Epsom salts (magnesium sulphate), raw apple cider vinegar and kosher salt (an additive-free cooking salt) for half an hour.
But does her super-soak really do anything for you, or will I just come out smelling like a packet of salt and vinegar crisps?
‘Epsom salts are high in magnesium, which helps relax muscles and lower blood pressure,’ says Dr Barbara Kubicka, an aesthetic doctor and author of new book The Bath Project.
So far, so familiar: while there is little scientific evidence that magnesium in Epsom salts can be absorbed by taking a bath, it has been a remedy for aches and pains for generations.
What about the rest? Dr Kubicka says there are some benefits: ‘Kosher salt can help by reducing water retention, while apple cider vinegar is rich in malic acid, an exfoliant which will help other products, such as moisturisers, penetrate the skin, and can help it restore its natural pH balance.’
I find some Epsom salts and apple cider vinegar at the back of a cupboard, but both cost under £3 from the supermarket. I can’t get hold of kosher salt, so Dr Kubicka suggests using up to 200g of sea salt or Himalayan salt instead. She also advises starting with 50ml of apple cider vinegar, building up to 250ml if your skin tolerates it. With Epsom salts, anything from 200g to 1kg is fine.
My first thoughts? It’s blissful to be in a warm bath, and I strangely enjoy inhaling the sharp, tangy smell of the vinegar. The Epsom salts have a fairly neutral smell, but I get an evocative kick from the faint scent of sea salt. But half an hour is still a long time. The water starts to cool and my mind drifts towards my to-do list. Afterwards, does my nervous system feel ‘calmed’?
Well, I’ve managed to stave off that pandemic-triggered feeling of dread for a few minutes. What’s more, my limbs, sore from doing PE with Joe Wicks every morning (it’s not just for children, honestly), feel lighter. And my skin feels smooth once I’ve patted on moisturiser. On looking in the mirror, however, I’m sorry to see that I still don’t look like a supermodel.
I ask my husband: ‘Do I smell like crisps?’ He sniffs my wrist. ‘Perhaps faintly,’ he says. ‘Posh crisps.’
Of course, there are easy alternatives to try…
DE-STRESSER: OATS, CINNAMON & MILK
‘Oats calm irritation and are packed with B vitamins that can help skin rejuvenate and repair,’ says Dr Kubicka. But you won’t be stewing in a vat of porridge — tie some oats in a muslin bag and leave in the water. Add a splash of milk and 1 tsp of cinnamon for a moisturising and comforting tub.
CLEANSER: BAKING SODA, SLICED ORANGES & ORANGE JUICE
If you can spare a smidgen from your lockdown banana bread, baking soda baths are a favourite with the likes of actress January Jones. ‘It has a soothing effect and helps cleanse the system,’ says Dr Kubicka, who suggests using 50g. A sliced orange will give a refreshing, citrus lift.
SKIN SOOTHER: TEA, VANILLA & OLIVER OIL
Just pop two teabags in a cup of hot water for five minutes, then add the infusion. ‘Green tea is a strong antioxidant,’ says Dr Kubicka. ‘Black tea is good for irritated skin, and contains tannins that cleanse pores, so it’s great for acne.’ Add 1 tbsp of nourishing olive oil as well as a drop of vanilla essence.
SLEEP BOOSTER: LAVENDER, LEMON & CHAMOMILE
Struggling to unwind? Reach for lavender essential oil. ‘Three to six drops will be enough,’ says Dr Kubicka. A sliced lemon will act as an exfoliating antioxidant, while chamomile tea relaxes you.
PICK-ME-UP: HONEY, GINGER AND MINT
Use 2 tbsp of honey to create a sweet, moisturising addition to your bath. Add a ginger tea infusion and a handful of crushed mint for an uplifting pick-me-up.