A Sparkling Vintage Life

31 Days of a Sparkling Vintage Summer, Day 5: Linger in the Bath

ivory soap A quick daily shower–or two– is a summertime basic. But after a hot afternoon spent under the blistering sun at the beach or in the garden, or a grueling commute over blistering highways, a long, cool bath will revive your spirits and restore your good humor. As Veronica Dengel wrote in 1943, “The good old days, when the family reserved Saturday night for the weekly bath, are now as dead as the dodo.” Thank goodness for that!

She offers this detailed advice for dedicated bathers:

“Before you begin your bath, check your preparations. Everything you need should be at hand, no rushing hither and  yon for something forgotten. Washcloth, bath brush, soap, bath salts, or bath oil; a big, coarse-textured towel,; bath powder, cologne. If your curls need freshening, dampen them with cologne and pin them in place. Put a protective band around the hairline and cover your entire head with a net. Remove your make-up and apply your lubricating cream on the face and throat. It is not necessary to use expensive soaps; these are a luxury in which you may indulge if you choose, although a good grade of Castile or other bland pure soap is most satisfactory.

“Fine-grained bath salts soften the water. Another softening agent is the oatmeal or bran bag. This is made by tying a few tablespoonfuls of either bran or oatmeal in a piece of cheesecloth and dropping it into the tub.

“Relax in the water for a minute, lying back and letting the water lap around you. Just ‘let go.’ Try to feel that you could float if you wanted to. Then start scrubbing. A long-handled brush is splendid for your back. Employ a hand brush for your elbows knees, heels, and soles of the feet. If you have calluses, rub them gently every day with a pumice stone. Put plenty of soap on your brush and on your washcloth, which is gentler for the chest, abdomen, and hips. I like to scrub briskly from head to foot, because this improves the circulation and thoroughly cleans the skin channels. Splash around in the water to rinse, or you may prefer to finish off with a cool shower.

“Step out of the tub and give your body a friction rub with a coarse towel until the skin is pink and glowing, except on very warm days. A brisk rubdown when the thermometer is high tends only to increase the body heat an increases perspiration. In such weather, pat the body dry; do not rub. Try this for the few excessively hot days in each summer. Pat off the excess moisture, spray with cologne, and lie down on the bed until the skin dries. The air and moisture will cool the temperature of the skin, and you will feel fresh for hours.

“You will feel warm and relaxed, ready for a refreshing eight hours of sleep. When you are thoroughly dry, pat on your favorite bath powder, if you bathe at night. However, if you prefer your cleansing bath in the morning, use only cologne sprayed directly on the skin. Doing so will save you from those troublesome streaks of powder that show up when you have put on a dark dress, an annoyance which always holds you up when you are in the greatest hurry!”

Mrs. Dengel offered the following suggestions for special cases:

  • When you are overtired and nervous: Take your tub bath a bit hotter than usual, about 101 degrees Farenheit, and add to it two handfuls of sea salt. This is soothing and will help you to relax more easily. But do not stay in the water longer than ten minutes at the most.
  • When you feel “stuffy” in the head or tense: Try pine essence or pine oil in your bug; a few drops will give you a sense of freer breathing. Pine oil or verbena is my favorite scent for baths.
  • “When you feel “dopey,” or let down: Remember that hot or cold water is stimulating and will wake you up. Therefore either temperature is good when you want a quick pick-up. But very hot or cold baths should be used sparingly, and you should stay only a moment or so in the water.
  • Enlarged joints in the hands may be benefited marvelously by the use of the Epsom salts bath. Massage the joints while they are immersed in the water, working the flesh and bone between the thumb and forefinger of the other hand.

Now go fill the tub and relax!

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