Tuesday, January 15, 2008


“The way to health is to have an aromatic bath
and scented massage every day.

It may be hard for the generations behind me to realize this, but when I was growing up the Bath and Body Works stores that are in every urban mall today didn't even exist. Our choice of soap was somewhat limited. There was 99% pure Ivory (for babies) and yellow, antibacterial Dial. Nothing came in pretty squirt bottles except Johnson & Johnson's baby shampoo. We made do with a 2x3x1 inch bar. Since five girls used one bathroom, we all shared the same bar. How's that for personal hygiene? We also used, if you can believe this, terry cloth washcloths, not plastic scrunchies that come in various colors. Mom shopped at the Navy commissary so we pretty much made do with the basics.

Looking at my shower enclosure and bathroom closet today, it would be hard to realize I grew up with this kind of soap deprivation. Or maybe because I grew up with no choice at all, it explains the eight bottles of sweet smelling bath gels that take up every spare inch of the shower. And just for the record, this number does NOT include the selection of shampoos I offer myself on a daily basis.

Last year I went to a dermatologist to have the red scaley patches on my legs and arms checked out. His diagnosis? Too much bathing, combined with water that is too hot and soap products that come in bottles that sell for over ten dollars.

His prescription? Only shower every other day, don't use soap (use Cetaphil, something that looks like soap but doesn't smell or feel like soap), dry off completely, and follow with a liberal coating of lubriderm. I left his office, scratching my head (too much drying shampoo no doubt), and wondering from what non-bathing planet did he emerge. In my life I have few true pleasures, showering is one I'm not going to give up without a fight. Red patches be damned!

So, there I was standing under the shower this morning, using more hot water than any person who claims to want to help save the planet should use in a week. I carefully peeked open one eye looking for the bath gel du jour. I spied the bottle of "Tranquil Mint" body wash and foam bath from B&BW's "stress relief" line of aromatherapy that I bought myself for Christmas. Ah, tranquility. That's more like what the doctor should have ordered.

Here's what the label says: Relax and refresh. Peppermint essential oil refreshes and combats mental fatigue. Rosemary essential oil improves thinking to foster creativity. Tranquil mint, where have you been all my life?

I used to worry about too many conflicting smells. Because I didn't want to end up smelling like a fruit salad, I made a point of always having my bath gel and body lotion match. I've always been a matchy-matchy girl, but that's a story for another day. Now, in a concerted effort to get the job done, I just grab the first lotion my hand touches. This morning it was another bottle from the aromatherapy line - Lavender. Usually part of my nighttime routine, "true lavender," says the label, "is known around the world for its aility to soothe the mind, body and spirit." It really does help me feel sleepy; not to mention it reminds me of my sister Linda which puts me to bed with a smile in my heart.

Tranquil mint and lavender - how's that for a de-stressing cocktail? No mental fatigue, improved creativity, and a soothed spirit. I should be floating on air! I think the real test for this kind of therapy will be when I hear Dad's walker bumping down the hallway. If, when I say, "Good morning, Dad," and he answers with his usual, "grrrrrrrrrrrrr" and I keep smiling, I may just become the B&BW's aromatherapy poster girl!

Keep smiling,
Merry ME

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

One of my greatest pleasures is stepping into your shower to see the array of choices before me. I think of myself as someone who has a variety of nice smells to choose from, but really, it doesn't compare to what I find behind your shower curtain. It's magical!