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Bath salts (the sprinkle-in-the-bath kind, not the turn-you-into-a-zombie kind) are a great way to help you unwind.

Typically, they’re made from Epsom salt and essential oils. You can add a scoop to your bath, shower, a foot soak, or use them as a gentle exfoliating body scrub.

They combine the benefits of magnesium-rich Epsom salts with essential oil aromatherapy, helping you to relax muscles and your mind. They also provide some great skin benefits, such as softening and exfoliating.

Here’s everything you need to know about using bath salts.

Bath salts are pretty straightforward. Once you’ve found one you like, there are several ways you can use them:

In the bath

Using bath salts in the bath is how most people enjoy them, and it’s a way to experience the most benefits from using them.

Epsom salt soaks may help relax sore or painful muscles, the magnesium in the Epsom salts (that can be absorbed through your skin) may help promote good sleep, and you get all of the aromatherapy benefits, and some mild exfoliating and skin softening benefits too.

To use: Sprinkle 1 cup of bath salts into a warm bath, allow salts to dissolve, then soak in the tub for about 20 minutes.

In the shower

To enjoy the aromatherapy benefits of bath salts, sprinkle some bath salts along the floor of your shower. When the hot water and steam hit the bath salts, they’ll dissolve — creating a personal aromatherapy sauna just for you.

For exfoliation

To very gently exfoliate and soften your skin, combine 1/2 cup bath salts with a drizzle of body oil like sweet almond oil or coconut oil, and scrub trouble spots like elbows and knees, or bottoms of the feet.

Bath salts are way too abrasive for the face, so use as a body scrub only. And again, gently so as not to create micro-tears in the skin with those salt crystals. FYI we don’t recommend sugar scrubs for the face either.

For a foot soak

In a foot bath or a large basin, sprinkle 1/4 to 1/2 cup bath salts into warm water. Soak your feet and relax, allowing the bath salts to gently soften your skin. This is an essential step for a DIY home pedicure.

You can also jazz up your bath salts or plain Epsom salts with essential oils, flower petals, and baking soda to create an even more luxurious experience.

There’s a caveat, though: essential oils need to be mixed with bath salts before adding them to your bath or soak. They’re super potent, and because oil and water don’t mix, they can float on top of water and burn your skin if they’re not mixed.

You’ll need to be particularly careful with peppermint oil and citrus oils, as these oils, when undiluted, are known to cause burns.

While research suggests there are health benefits, the FDA doesn’t monitor or regulate the purity or quality of essential oils. It’s important to talk with your healthcare provider before you begin using essential oils and be sure to research the quality of a brand’s products. Always do a patch test before trying a new essential oil.

Lavender oil

Lavender oil is a gentle, relaxing scent that may help you unwind and de-stress. It’s commonly used in aromatherapy to help promote sleep, which makes it a great addition to an evening soak with some Epsom salts. The magnesium in Epsom salt may also help you sleep better. Catch them Zzz’s!

Add 6 to 10 drops of lavender oil to 1 cup of bath salts or plain Epsom salt for your bath.

Peppermint oil

Peppermint oil has an energizing scent, making it a great option for foot soaks or to sprinkle in the shower before you step in in the morning. It can also be great for clearing sinuses and soothing headaches.

However, it’s really potent, so add just a few drops into your bath salts.

Citrus oils

Citrus oils — like sweet orange, mandarine, and lemon — are invigorating scents that may help lift your spirits, similar to peppermint. However, they’re also really quite potent — so just a few drops are needed (and make sure to mix it in the bath salts before adding it to the water).

Pro tip: Try a foot soak with 2 to 3 drops of peppermint oil and 2 to 3 drops of sweet orange oil. It’s an amazing smelling combo that can’t be beat!

Flower petals

Feeling a little extra? Try adding some dried rose petals to your Epsom salts. They smell wonderful, and they’re loaded with vitamin C — an antioxidant vitamin that’s great for your skin. Not to mention it looks gorgeous.

Treat yo self.

Baking soda

Baking soda is a natural exfoliant that can be added to your bath salts to help soften and exfoliate your skin. This makes it great for baths, foot soaks, and making a body scrub.

However, you shouldn’t use baking soda more than once or twice per week, and you shouldn’t use it on your face. It’s a bit too exfoliating, and it can actually do more harm than good if you use it too often.

Try mixing in a teaspoon to your bath salts before adding them to your bath or making them into a scrub.

tl;dr

  • Bath salts combine the benefits of essential oil aromatherapy with the muscle relaxing and skin exfoliating benefits of Epsom salts. The magnesium in Epsom salts may help you sleep better, too.
  • You can use bath salts in the bath, in your shower, in a foot soak, or to make an exfoliating body scrub.
  • If you add essential oils, they need to be properly diluted in a carrier oil or in the salts so you don’t get burned.
  • Try adding lavender oil, peppermint oil, citrus oils, rose petals, or baking soda to your bath salts to maximize the benefits.