Celebrities Aren’t Taking Bubble Baths to Relax—Here’s What They’re Doing Instead

updated Jun 5, 2020
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For Apartment Therapy’s Perfect Night In series, I ask celebrities a series of questions on how they’d spend their ideal night in at home. One question that always popped is, “Bubble bath? Yay or nay.” A few happily answered “yay” to the question, while some gave a decisive “nay” (Thom Felicia, I’m looking at you). But when I sifted back through the interviews, an overarching theme on the subject surfaced: celebrities aren’t dismissing the idea of baths, they just strongly prefer Epsom salt over bubbles. But why?

While celebrities like Marie Kondo, Venus Williams, Malin Akerman, Darren Criss, Aisha Dee, and Catherine Zeta Jones said they like bubble baths, they quickly noted with Epsom salts. Others like David Burtka and Erin Napier implied that they would skip the bubbles and go straight to the salt treatment. And those are just a few out of the majority of interviews that voiced their love for Epsom salts.

What is Epsom salt?

First, the big question: what the heck is Epsom salt? It’s a chemical compound made up of magnesium and sulfate that are both released when water is added to it. Epsom salt was first discovered for its laxative effect in 1618 by a farmer named Henry Wicker in Epsom, England (hence the name). Over time, people discovered the relieving effects that Epsom salt had on the body, too, and started using them for healing purposes. And four centuries later, people are still using the compound for this benefit—and the celebrity interviews speak volumes on its existing popularity.

While there’s little scientific evidence that Epsom salt baths benefit the skin and muscles, Corinne Croce, Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) and co-founder of Body Evolved, says that there are no risks involved in trying it. “Epsom salt might not be absorbed by the skin and therefore the scientific reasons for bath benefits might be myths. However, the positive effects may come from the reduced stress and the relaxation component,” Croce told Apartment Therapy.

Croce says that magnesium is known to increases relaxation, reduce inflammation, and aid in muscle and nerve function, while the sulfates help with physical recovery and detoxification. In my interview with Olympic gymnast Laurie Hernandez, she echoed these benefits. “Epsom salt is my go-to, just because of practicing and being super sore. That feels really good on my muscles.”

Alison Brie, who stars in the Netflix series “GLOW,” says that Epsom salt helps her after long days on set. “I do like to do a nighttime sleepy time tea as well and epsom salt baths. When we’re working on ‘GLOW’ and my body is super tired, the CBD oil and the salt baths are my two go-twos to really bring in recovery and restfulness.

Even Jonathan Scott from “Property Brothers”, who said that he’s “definitely not a bath person,” admitted that he felt the benefits of the Epsom salt bath he once took. “It was with Epsom salt because I had a really stiff, sore back. I sunk in, totally pampered myself, and got a book. It’s been years that I’ve done that, so saving it up for special occasions.”

There’s no doubt that Epsom salt baths have become a beauty trend in the pop culture space, especially with the wellness movement on the rise. Busy Philipps, for example, admits that she started using Epsom salts and other beauty regimens through word of mouth, curiosity, and an overall desire for more energy.

“I like this stuff called Dr. Singha’s Mustard Bath, I’m just trying to detoxify, sometimes I put crystals in my bath,” Philipps told AT. “I didn’t even know that was a thing, but on my talk show Jenna Dewan told me that you can put crystals in your bath and I was like great, okay, yeah I’ll do that. What are they going to do to me? I don’t know, nothing probably, but maybe something. I just want the energy.”

Celebrities mentioning the salts time and time again definitely speak to the overall desire for self-care and the need to express it. But at the end of the day, Croce emphasizes what’s important when it comes to using Epsom salts: “The goal should be restoration and stress reduction; if they feel good to you, make them part of a healthy wellness routine.”