#SelfCareSaturday: A Bath Routine That Will Age You in Reverse

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skincare bath
Photo: Courtesy of Sara Shakeel

I can count the number of times I’ve left my house since March on two hands. But after seeing so many people raging at brunch or crowding the pools at a certain (wink, wink) Palm Jumeirah hotel, I’m starting to feel like I’m the weird one for not partying during a pandemic.

All shade aside, one of the only things that’s kept me sane during this fractious year is establishing some semblance of a self-care routine. On some days, that looks like an intense workout that’s so draining, my brain doesn’t have any energy to constantly loop worst-case-scenarios before I fall asleep. On others, it’s letting Harry Styles read me a bedtime story on the Calm app while imagining I’m that big fishie from the “Adore You” music video. My self-administered treatments may vary, but there’s one that I guard with my life, selfishly, like Gollum and his precious ring. 

Without fail, every single Saturday, no matter what else is going on, I climb into a steamy bath and steep for one to two hours. The first hour is spent reading and splashing around like a baby seal, with not a care in the world. The other is spent lavishing my skin with heaping helpings of products, full-on indulgent in my applications, ridiculous in my methodology, and overdoing it every step of the way. It’s my skincare version of an all-night bender. 

self-care saturday
Photo: Courtesy of @dariabydasha

Later, I emerge from a cloud of steam (which my tropical plant Bowie, who overlooks my aquatic antics from a shelf above the tub), as soft and supple as a Bottega Veneta clutch – but a lot less leathery. Actually that’s wrong, I don’t “emerge”, I float. Blissed out beyond reason, my feet don’t touch the ground as I sail around the house with dewy skin and a smile.

I need the moisture. After spending so much time in doors, the A/C dries me to a crisp. Let’s face it, even if I was outside all of the time, it’s not like the environment in the UAE is exactly hospitable during the summer. This regimen is so restorative, and so nourishing, that I can literally feel my skin drink it up like a vacuum hose. Afterwards, my complexion is calmer, my pores smaller (but never not present), and my skin texture is plumper. Bonus: my skincare routine also sets my week up for attending Zoom meetings sans makeup.

What follows are my exact steps, and the products I actually use, with one caveat: everyone’s skin is different. I do not have sensitive skin; it likes everything. My skin is combination, and I do have slight redness to my cheeks that I am always trying to reduce. Before you go headlong into copying this regimen, check the ingredients first to make sure they vibe with your own specific needs. Happy tubbin’.

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Step 1:

Prepare Your Bath

This is arguably the most important step, because while you’re tending to your face, your whole body can benefit from some strategic additions to the tub. Think of the bath like a broth for a soup, and add ingredients according to the results you want. I opt for epsom salts fortified by magnesium, which relax achy muscles and reduce stress. I always toss in a bath bomb, and if I’m feeling really extra, I’ll add some drops of pure lavender oil and about six chamomile tea bags (which is a natural anti-inflammatory and is great for irritated or sensitive skin). Cleopatra herself didn’t bathe so lavishly.

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Step 2:

Exfoliate

I don’t keep an eye on the time, but after about an hour of soaking, reading, splashing, listening to music, and definitely not looking at my phone, I’ll start my skincare routine. In order to really allow hydrating products to penetrate deeply, you should exfoliate first. I ditched harsh scrubs years ago in favor of gentle chemical versions. I was loyal to Cure‘s ‘Natural Aqua Gel’ for years, and, yes, it’s truly amazing. There’s a reason a bottle of this stuff  sells every 4.5 seconds (true story).

But when Huda Kattan‘s Wishful ‘Yo Glow’ enzyme facial scrub came along, I was an instant convert. Not only does it smell delicious, but it takes layers of dead skin off of your face without irritating your dermis.

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Step 3:

Cleanse

I love a a triple-duty product, which is why I have DERMAdoctor‘s ‘Kadaku C’ cleanser in constant rotation. It’s a cleanser, toner, and makeup remover in one. It smells a bit funky, but that’s because it’s packed with Vitamin C, which we all know has a less-than-pleasant fragrance. It makes my skin feel really clean, without stripping it of natural oils. Alternatively, I’m loyal to the J-Beauty cult favorite ‘Perfect Whip’ by Shiseido, which has a worldwide following for a reason. This luxurious cleanser lathers beautifully and deep cleans pores without irritating sensitive skin.

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Step 4:

Hydrating Mask

My first round of masks begins with a gel or liquid mask. I hate the kind that stiffen up until you can’t move your face, and prefer textures that stay soft the entire time they’re on. I always leave them on a lot longer than recommended, because I’m a born rule-breaker. The two masks below are intensely hydrating. In fact, they don’t even need to be followed by the other steps, but my #SelfCareSaturday skincare routine is all about going overboard, doing too much, and not feeling sorry for it.

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Step 5:

Sheet Mask

Trap all of that moisture into your skin by following the first mask with a sheet mask. Apply them to a dry face (gently pat your face dry, woman). If you’re feeling extra indulgent, the SK-II sheet mask is one of the best in the world, and it has a price point that reflects that (however, it is a six-pack, so you can easily make your splurge-y purchase last longer by spacing out its uses). A more affordable option – and the one I use most frequently – is the Wishful ‘Thirst Trap’ mask, which contains rose, sodium hyaluronate, and aloe vera, and makes your skin instantly softer.

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Step 6:

Moisturize

By this time, my skin is so pumped with hydration that it’s glowing. Reports from NASA say that they can see my skin from the International Space Station. But because I’m doing the most on #SelfCareSaturday, as a final step, I apply a hydrating moisturizer to seal the deal. I’m crazy for Wishful‘s ‘Honey Balm’ moisturizer, which has a holographic sheen and a sublime jelly texture that melts into your skin. I’m also a superfan of everything Ole Henriksen creates, and the ‘Sheer Transformation’ moisturizer is one of his best inventions. It’s somehow both intensely moisturizing and lightweight enough that it doesn’t turn my face into an oil slick.

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