Amid ongoing stress and uncertainty, showers are no longer just a utilitarian to-do, they’re an act of serene self-care—particularly when you take your time and add a few extra steps that transform it into a fully realized ritual. From creating a warm, grounding environment to therapeutic skin-care treatments, here’s how to make your showers feel like an act of respite and relaxation.
Create Warm, Relaxing Lighting
Warm lighting, particularly in the evening, promotes relaxation and helps to calm the mind. Whether you’re bathing before bed or just in need of a dose of grounding glimmer during the day, flick on a small accent light that emits a soft, mellow glow. Try a stylish midcentury-inspired orb, small paper lantern light, or a compact pinky-peach Himalayan salt wall plug, which will help cleanse the air in your space.
Hang a Beautiful Shower Curtain
Finding an attractive, let alone swoon-worthy shower curtain is like spotting a diamond in the rough. Thankfully, brands like Brooklyn-based Quiet Town are bridging the gap with beautiful, thoughtfully-crafted curtains that merge practicality with design. Whether it’s a breezy, two-toned linen number or something a bit punchier, like bold jungle flowers, it’s about what you’re drawn to—and what will make you feel at ease.
Light a Candle
A beautiful candle is a true luxury. In a bathroom setting, it not only offers a scent that makes you feel feel good, but it secures that ever-soothing candle-lit ambiance at night. In the spirit of easing your mind, consider notes that whittle away at stress such as balancing Breu resin, sweet earthy vetiver, or grounding cedar.
Dry Brush for a Full-Body Massage
Before entering the shower, take a dry brush and gently massage yourself head to toe in long, circular strokes that move up towards your heart. It contributes to lymphatic drainage and increased circulation and, according to Ayurvedic philosophy, is a mediative act of cleansing and detoxifying the body. Plus, it helps buff away dead skin cells as the first step for a full-body glow.
Find the Ideal Shower Temperature
While the inclination to turn the dial all the way up is only natural during winter, it’s best to avoid searing hot temperatures, which can compromise the skin’s moisture barrier, and in turn, its overall health. Experts agree that the ideal temperature to avoid dry, irritated skin is luke warm, which, don’t worry, falls somewhere between 98º and 105º F—meaning that it will still supply soothing warmth for a cozy bathing experience.
Once you’ve turned the faucet and found that perfectly calibrated warm temperature, consider a little aromatherapy behind the curtains. Hang a bouquet of fresh eucalyptus from your shower head for a refreshing natural scent, or try an in-shower mist like the J.R. Watkins’s Detox formula laced with warming ginger, or a shower melt like Aura Cacia’s calming lavender tablets.
Exfoliate All Over
Your body will already be buzzing from the dry brushing session; up the ante on smooth, soft skin and muscle tension relief with a polishing body scrub. Ren’s clean sea salt balm contains a touch of magnesium for its calming and detoxing properties, while Juara’s creamy polish teams candlenut oil with crushed walnut particles for an extra-silky effect all over. And don’t forget your scalp: A purifying scrub, such as French hairstylist Christophe Robin’s cult favorite, will help cleanse, remove build-up, and leave the scalp feeling truly revitalized.
Just as important as how you feel in the shower is how you feel walking out of it—for those who enjoy fragrance, a fresh, long-lasting scent is a key part of the equation. Look to a gentle body cleanser infused with a magic, sweet-smelling ingredient such as Oribe’s refreshing Calabrian bergamot, Seed Phytonutrient’s herbal cedar leaf, or Fresh’s zingy citrus.
Step Out and Hydrate
After toweling off, seal in the moisturizer with a lightweight, sinks-right-in lotion like Malin + Goetz’s Vitamin B5-packed cult favorite or Lord Jones’s extra-strength CBD-infused version to give your muscles some extra TLC. To double down on hydration, Oye’s rich shea butter is laced with nourishing and healing vitamins A, K, E, and F. Alternatively, you can reach for an oil, like Reed + Gwen’s dry body oil, with hydrating moringa and healing avocado oils, for the Ayurvedic ritual of a full-body abhyanga, or self-massage.
Sarah Jessica Parker answers all of our 73 questions: