Self Care Bath

Ideas for a self care bath or shower

Self Care Weekend Ideas to Live Your Best Life

September 3, 2023

Self Care Bath
Alicia Butler

Alicia Butler is pretty much perfect when she isn’t procrastinating, dealing with crippling anxiety, or avoiding conflict. She drinks a bit too much, doesn’t buy into the hype of those green drinks, and has a chaotic sleep schedule.

And like most women with self-help blogs, she also doesn’t have any credentials in clinical therapy. That’s why she sticks to poking fun at the self-care industry with pithy posts about our society’s weird obsession with productivity.

I’m not someone who takes a lot of time for herself. Just the idea of enjoying any amount of self care (let alone a self care bath) is enough to send me into a desperate shame spiral.

Yeah, I could hardly keep a straight face through that, too.

I definitely don’t need to take a bath to relax, but sometimes it just gets so boring relaxing in my bed all day. And the tub is really a great place to block out the dumpster fire the world can be sometimes.

In the words of Jessica St. Claire in the epic six-episode TV show, Best Friends Forever, “I just wanna be surrounded by warm water and light and listen to my Lilith Fair double disk.”

So fire up your CD player (or your Tidal app), light some candles, and drown out your existential dread.

This post may contain affiliate links, so if you buy something after clicking on a link, I might (fingers crossed!) just get a little commission. Good news: I only recommend products that I love! Which means you can feel good about all of my recs.

Self Care Bath Tips

Taking a self care bath isn’t as easy as filling the tub with water and climbing in. 

Because you probably haven’t spent as much time as me bathing, here are a few tips to help you level up your tubby time. 

Clean Your Tub

In the words of a meme my college roommate printed out and posted on our bathroom mirror, “Cleanliness is next to godliness, so clean up you wh*res!”

The last thing you want is to fill your tub with water, only to find a few floaters in the bath with you. 

But I absolutely hate cleaning the bathtub (short arms). Which is why I ordered this electric spin scrubber thingy some lady on TikTok recommended. It’s only $44 and it actually works. 

If I’m cleaning the tub pre-bath, I don’t really want a lingering bleach smell, so I use Mrs. Meyers cleaning spray in rosemary.  

Take a Shower Instead

Your self care bath doesn’t need to be a bath. Especially if you live in an apartment that doesn’t have a tub. 

A lot of these products work just as well in the shower as they do in the bath. 

If you don’t have a tub and you want one, might I suggest this folding soaking tub you can erect in your bathroom? 

You can also set this up in a three-season room in the winter, fill it with hot water, and pretend like you’re in a Swedish sweat lodge. 

Don’t ask me how I know this. I lived in northern Connecticut during the pandemic and there wasn’t a whole lot to do, OK?

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Bring Entertainment

The moment I sit down in the tub, all I have to do is pee. So I get out and pee and then I get back in the tub and within five minutes, I’m bored AF. 

Which is why I need to do all the types of things I would do on a self care Saturday to help me from screaming into the existential void of the universe.

TV Shows/Movies

I usually bring my iPad and its stand with me when I’m in the tub. It’s nice to catch up on my stories while I’m trying to feel something while simultaneously numbing out.

Normally, I don’t watch anything new when I’m in the tub. But I do love to watch some of my favorite 20-minute comedies that make me actually LOL. 

Best Friends Forever

If you haven’t seen Best Friends Forever, you’re not alone. It only got six episodes in its first (and only) season on NBC before it was canceled.

It’s really a testament to how the executives at TV studios can be total boneheads. Not only is laugh-out-loud funny, but it also features a lot of famous comedians who ended up in other hit shows. One of the executive producers is Fred Savage.

I just rewatched this last week, and even though I’ve watched it a million times, it still makes me actually LOL. 

Broad City

Broad City is one of those shows that took me a beat to “get”. 

Once when I lived in NYC, I was riding on the subway and two kids (okay, they were in their 20s) were quoting it, laughing hysterically. One of them asked the other, “Do people actually get the jokes in Broad City? Or is like how you have to have lived in Portland to get Portlandia?”

You most certainly don’t need to have lived in the city to find this show hilarious. But you need to know that a lot of the sh*t that happens is stuff that would actually happen to you when you live there.

Which is why some of my favorite episodes include:


I also love the episode “Philadelphia”, which co-stars Tony Danza (if you feel inspired by an NYC to Philly day trip). 

You don’t need to watch them in order, though you may want to save “Sliding Doors” until last. 

Of course, I’m usually on my phone simultaneously when I’m watching TV. Just because you’re taking a self care bath doesn’t mean you can’t still can’t follow the indictments or scroll through memes. 

Reading Material

Because my iPad is also my e-reader, I can switch between movies, TV shows, and e-books without getting out of the tub (again). I can also read some of my favorite magazines

Just a few of my all-time favorite books to read in the tub right now include:

Don’t Forget the Bath Snacks

Would I love to eat an entire rotisserie chicken in the bath? Duh. But the logistics just don’t allow for that. 

Are some of my favorite snacks to eat in the tub also the best ones to nibble on dry land? You tell me. 


I love a good Harney & Sons tea sampler. When I lived in NYC, I would go to the (now closed) Harney & Sons tea room in SoHo and hide out there for a few hours on rainy days.

At first, I thought this tea sampler was kind of expensive at $14.99, but then I realized that tea is really expensive these days. At Whole Foods, one package of tea costs like $10. And it’s not even a variety pack.


Ferrero Rocher dark chocolates are my favorites to eat in the tub when I’m in the U.S. Kinder Buenos are my favorite but only when I’m in Europe. 


If I’m not in the tub, I’d normally eat Smartfood popcorn or Doritos. But since I’m not a fan of tinting the water (or my bath towels for that matter) with orange powdered cheese, I default to my third favorite snack when I’m in the bath: Wonderful pistachios

Which also happens to be my favorite travel snack.

If I don’t have access to a tub and need to take a shower instead of a self care bath, do I sit under the spray, enjoying my snacks anyway? Maybe. 

Stuff You Need for a Self Care Bath 

If I’m going to take a bath, I need some accessories.

I’m the kind of person who won’t try a new hobby unless it requires buying a whole outfit. 

Do you need to buy a bunch of sh*t to do a self care bath? Technically, no. But if we’re not buying stuff and contributing to the gross economy, are we even living at all?

Coconut Candles

Some months ago, I realized that whenever I take a bath, what I really want is to be at the beach. 

I came to this realization because I always buy coconut-scented bath products that smell like sunscreen. 

I even went so far one time as to buy a diffuser oil that smells like Hawaiian Tropic. (Despite the many glowing five-star reviews on Amazon, it did not; at best, it somehow smelled like an even more chemically version of Hawaiian Tropic, which is all chemicals.) 

This candle smells as close to the beach as I can find, without actually going outside. 

Turkish Bath Towels

I really like these Turkish bath towels because they’re really big so they cover my whole bod and they aren’t very puffy, so they travel well. 

Because Airbnbs tend to skimp on bath towels, I pack one in my suitcase on longer trips. But I also use them at home. 

Body Wash/Shower Gel

If you’re not creating a cloud of bubbles and foam that sits on the surface of your bath water, are you even taking a bath at all? 


This product does double duty. Pour it under running water to create a foamy layer in your tub, or slather it on your bod in the shower. 

Gold Eye Masks

Am I the only one who goes a little insane while wearing eye masks? Do they slide down everyone else’s faces the way they do on mine?

I have yet to find eye masks that stay put. But if I’m going to do eye masks during a self care bath, you’d better be sure I’m going to get the gold leaf ones. Especially when they cost the same as regular-old eye masks. 

Aztec Secret Face Mask

I bought this clay face mask after an influence on YouTube told me it would make my pores look “snatched”. I had no idea what that meant, but she swore up and down that it was the best face mask she ever bought and it was only $6.

So I bought it. And I still have no idea what “snatched pores” means, but this mask made my skin look freakin’ amazing. 

Because I’m nothing if not overly honest, I’ll tell you what that influencer warned me: it’s messy. Slapping it on is a breeze, but removing it without getting green clay all down your drain is a whole thing. But it’s actually totally worth it.

Exfoliant Cubes

Normally, I don’t use body exfoliant because it’s so messy. Scooping it out of the tub, it ends up everywhere except for where I want it: on me.

A friend recommended these exfoliant cubes because they work way better than trying to slather loose bath salts all over my skin. Just take one and rub it on the parts you want to exfoliate.

They smell good, they come in a stylish container, and they actually work. 

Gua Sha

I bought this gua sha after a lady I follow on TikTok, who takes groups of her followers to Thailand, recommended it to me.

She’d been gua sha-ing for about six months, and her before and after photos were crazy. Her face was way less puffy in the after photos than her before photos. 

And she credited the difference to doing a gua sha routine every day. So, naturally I bought one, and now I do the same routine in the shower every morning. It works the same in the bath. 

Does it work? I’ve only been doing it for a few months, but I swear the bags under my eyes are less puffy, and it just feels good. It’s also an easy way to add some self care to my shower every day.

Thailand has nothing to do with this story, I just wanted you to know that she’s not an expert on lymphatic drainage or anything. 

Shower Bombs

If you don’t have a tub (or just don’t enjoy marinating for an hour or so), you can always take a self care shower. 

These shower bombs create an aromatic steam that fills up your shower and turns it into a poor-woman’s sauna. 

Because I’m lazy (and that whole sitting is the new smoking thing is total cockamamie), I enjoy sitting in the spray on this teak shower bench.