If you're looking for the best bath oils, you've come to the right place. As a busy parent, finding the time to have a bath isn’t easy, so when the opportunity does arise to enjoy a moment of me-time with a locked bathroom door (a treat in itself), you really want to make the most of it.
As any parent will know, finding time in those busy mornings before the school run for a full body moisturise is nigh on impossible, and the cold winter weather can be harsh on your skin. Using one of the best bath oils can kill two birds with one stone - helping soften skin all over while providing a moment of me-time too. Now’s not the moment to worry about how much it costs to run a bath, but to indulge. Normally a bubble person? A bath oil has the upper hand when it comes to the concentration of scent (just a few drops can make your bathroom smell like a spa) and its ability to nourish, making it as essential for dry skin as the best facial oils and best hand creams.
“Dry skin is naturally deficient in lipids, which are essential to help the skin retain hydration and moisture,” explains skin expert and pro facialist Fiona Brackenbury. “One of the best things you can do for dry skin is bathe in oil-based products that are rich in lipids rather than bubble baths and bath bombs which focus more on foaming than improving the condition of your skin. Bath oils bring instant comfort to dry skin.” And, because your skin will have absorbed all that goodness while you soaked in the tub, you’ll find that it’s less uncomfortable and scaly and that you’re relying less on moisturiser afterwards.
9 best bath oils for dry skin, tested by our Beauty Editor
Best bath oil for Mum’s to be
Essential oils can be a bit tricky to navigate when you’re expecting, as not all are considered safe for use during pregnancy. For example, it’s not recommended to use Clary Sage until you’re close to your due date. The good news is that Neal’s Yard's Mother’s Bath Oil has been formulated with mums-to-be in mind, with a blend of bergamot and ylang-ylang that’s so blissful it’ll distract you from the fact that your bathwater can only be tepid rather than scorching hot.
GoodtoKnow verdict: This didn’t come with on-pack instructions of how much to use, so I went sparingly. What is helpful though is that it’s yellow and initially sits dotted on top of the water like an oil slick, so you can see how much you’ve used and get a rough idea of whether you need to add more. I really liked that although very much there, the scent wasn’t overwhelming or overpowering, and doesn’t leave the tub with you, which is perfect for my sensitive pregnancy nose.
Best bath oil for boosting your mood
If you’re in a bit of a funk and are relying on a bath to pull you out of it, then this is exactly what you want in the tub. The scent of geranium, lavender, peppermint and Tonka will boost even the most lacklustre of spirits, so you can leave the bathroom feeling calm and re-energised. The green bottle is also incredibly chic, making for a gorgeous gift – or a lovely addition to your own bath tray.
GoodtoKnow verdict: This bath oil instantly merged with the running water the moment I added the first capful, turning it slightly cloudy. The smell is right up my street, with the kind of scent that makes you want to get out of the bath and on with your day rather than retreat straight to bed. It was also potent enough to fill the whole bathroom with fragrance. My skin felt comfortable and hydrated afterwards, but not oily.
Best bath oil for a bit of escapism
When the washing basket is overflowing, the bins need taking out and the kids are screaming, there’s no shame in wishing you were somewhere else for a moment. That’s exactly what this bath oil aims to do, transporting you from your bathroom into the traditional Japanese art of “forest bathing” – a process that aims to boost wellbeing and dial down stress by immersing yourself in nature.
GoodtoKnow verdict: What. A. Treat. The next best thing to an actual spa break, this bath oil is designed to be massaged onto your torso rather than tossed into the tub, with the guidance that you then deeply inhale the (ridiclously gorgeous) scent three times before getting into the water. Plus, it can be used in the shower too if you don’t have a bath.
Best bath oil for reducing stress
A luxurious treat that lends itself just as well to starting the day right as it does to helping you unwind after a long one. The key selling point of Olevrum is it’s high concentration of natural essential oils, including eucalyptus, rosemary, lavender and geranium in a moisturising, dry-skin banishing base.
GoodtoKnow verdict: This is a full-on, knock your socks off kind of scent, and a little really does go a long way. The instructions say to use five drops but because it’s a pouring bottle rather than a dropper, this is quite hard to control, so just do what I did and go slow with a steady hand. Eucalyptus was the most notable note for me, and helped to make my blocked nose feel clearer while the oils made my dry skin feel softer. The scent stays on your skin for a whole day after using it, and it didn’t leave the bath feeling greasy after I’d gotten out – win-win.
Best bath oil for sensitive skin
If you’re prone to any skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis or rosacea, then you’ll know that you can’t always trust that bath and body products won’t make matters worse. This bath oil from E45 is a reliably safe pair of hands that’ll soothe, calm and moisturise stressed out skin at the same time as gently cleansing. It’s mild enough to be used in children’s baths too, making it suitable for the whole family.
GoodtoKnow verdict: This one is a bit different to the others, as it’s less about the experience and more about solving a problem. It’s unscented, but I could detect a slight hint of the familiar, medicinal smell you get from the classic E45 cream. It turned my whole bath milky, instantly soothed itching on my legs and cleansed my skin too, so I didn’t even need to lather up with soap before getting out. You only need to use one cap at a time, so the big bottle lasts for ages.
Best bath oil for long-lasting moisturisation
If you’re not keen on traditional essential oil blends then this sweet scent might be more up your street. Scents of vanilla, almond, brown sugar, coconut and musk create a bath oil that’s warming and comforting. There are also plenty of nourishing oils in the formula, including baobab seed, jojoba seed and French plum seed oil.
GoodtoKnow verdict: Depending on your preference and how dry your skin is feeling, this can be added to your bath or applied straight to your skin. I went for the straight-on option first and the scent is definitely more intense if you apply it this way. It was nice in the bath too, with the gourmand fragrance making for a luxe experience and the oils leaving my skin smooth and glossy.
Best bath oil for after exercise
Feeling exhausted post-workout? This is the best bath oil to soothe sore muscles and frazzled minds, so you can step out of the bathroom feeling like you’ve had a good stretch with zero effort. Eucalyptus invigorates, clove bud warms and lavender calms, while magnesium sets to work in the background speeding up muscle recovery.
GoodtoKnow verdict: As suggested, I used this post-exercise after a reformer pilates class, and it definitely helped to alleviate some of the tightness in my calves. Like the Aromatherapy Associates and Laura Mercier bath oils, you can apply straight to the skin, which I loved, and would recommend if you want to give your muscles a good massage. The smell is quite subtle, which will appeal to anyone who doesn’t like strong scents.
Best bath oil if you’re on a budget
Don’t want to spend too much money on the best bath oils? This one from Sanctuary Spa is a real bargain, with the (joint) biggest bottle of the bunch. It’s a combination of two phases (a creamy one and an oilier one) which blend when shaken to create a silky, milky texture that lingers on the skin long after you’ve left the tub. Decadent and purse-friendly, what’s not to love?
GoodtoKnow verdict: This is the only one of the bath oils on this list that foams, giving a light lather, which is nice if (like me) you find that any bath without bubbles feels a bit disappointing. The signature Sanctuary scent wafted around at break-neck speed filling the bathroom, and I could even smell it in my bedroom afterwards. Thanks to the creamy texture my skin felt so soft, like I’d just applied a thin layer of moisturiser to it.
Best bath oil to help you get a good night’s sleep
Taking a bath, even a short one, a couple of hours before you get into bed can help you fall asleep faster and stay snoozing for longer. Your chances of a better night’s shut-eye are improved even further with a few drops of this in the bath. The scent is indulgent without being overwhelming, with a therapeutic blend of lavender, camomile and vetivert oils.
GoodtoKnow verdict: I’m rarely without my This Works Deep Sleep Pillow spray, so I knew I’d be a fan of this from the off. The smell (as I expected) is divine, creating just the kind of peaceful environment I needed after a long day. I didn’t necessarily expect it to make a huge difference to my skin, but was pleasantly surprised to find that it felt softer and wasn’t crying out quite so loudly for moisturiser after I used it, or the next morning either.
How we tested the best bath oils
To bring you a reliable roundup of the best bath oils, I enjoyed a bath with each one (I know, it’s a hard life). Some were favourites that I have used before (so knew what to expect) while others were either new launches or new to me. While the skin on my face is oily/combination, my body is as stubbornly dry as the Sahara – something that’s only made worse by cold weather, central heating and wrapping up in moisture-zapping clothes. My legs especially have taken the brunt of winter dressing, and seem to get ashier every time I wear tights.
My verdict for each is a reflection of how lovely and pampering they were to use, as well as how they left my skin feeling afterwards. All of the products that made the top nine best bath oils were a joy to test and made a noticeable difference to my dry skin.
WIth more than 30 years experience in the beauty industry, there’s nothing about skin that Fiona doesn’t know. She’s a trained facialist, massage therapist and aromatherapist, has worked as Education Director for some of the biggest names in the business and even presented on QVC for more than 20 years.
If the cold weather has the skin on your face feeling tight and itchy, check out our roundup of the best moisturisers.
If you're craving a golden glow on the cold and dark winter days, our Beauty Editor has rounded up nine of the best fake tans.
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