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AM/PM: A Hopeless Romantic and Their Bubble Bath Routine

Welcome to AM/PM, where Autostraddle team members break down and share their skincare routines, makeup looks and more!


Photo of Em on a mint green background

Hi there! My name is Em. I’m a staff writer at Autostraddle, future therapist, and hopeless romantic with commitment issues. I’m also that one friend who always seems to be in the most unfortunate and truly wild situations when you call them on a random Tuesday afternoon.

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Because my life is truly 24/7 chaotic, I usually don’t make time for elaborate (or even reasonable) skincare routines. However, there is one holy and sacred time that I devote to my skin and mental health and that’s my weekly bath. It’s been a thing since I was a high school athlete with constant achy muscles. Now, as an average non-athletic citizen, baths are simply my equivalent of Brandy’s “In My Own Little Corner” sequence in the only Cinderella remake that matters.

At first, baths were a place where I could soak my muscles in Epsom salt to get relief from rowing workouts. I also grew up with eczema, so being submerged in water feels so much better than existing as a land human. As I grew older, baths became less of a physical want and more of an emotional and spiritual essential. Getting into a body of water really grounds me, and when I added mood lightning, skin-relieving soaps, and essential oils to the experience, I realized that I can create the spa-like atmosphere I wish I could constantly exist in.

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The Products

Collage of skincare products on a mint green background.

1. Energizing Dry Body Brush ($22) 2. Toby’s Magic Cow Bath Bomb ($6.95) 3. Basin Therapy Bath Salts ($5.99) 4. Dr. Teals Various Epsom Salts ($5-$8) 5. Dr. Teals Various Foaming Bath ($4-$8) 6. Whole Energy Detoxifying Body Scrub ($20) 7. Tatcha Rice Wash Skin Softening Cleanser ($38) 8. Farmacy Honey Halo Moisturizer ($25-$48) 9. CeraVe SA Lotion for Rough & Bumpy Skin ($18.99) 10. First Aid Beauty SPA Smoothing Body Lotion ($26)

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The Routine

I start by taking a dry brush to my legs and arms. When this trend first hit the internet a few years ago, I honestly thought it was ridiculous, mostly because why would I put a dry brush on my even dryer skin? My cousin (and skincare aficionado) recently explained that this brush technique flakes away dead skin cells and makes her skin much softer post-shower. I am always in search of clinical dry skin fixes that are for the entire body, so I walked into an Ulta and straight up asked them for whatever they had. One of their consultants advised me to start with soft bristles since apparently, you can get skin irritation and a rash if you go too hard right away. Despite my hesitation, I tried the soft brush and ended up loving it, so I dry brush myself as I’m warming up the faucet.

As the water fills up I choose my Dr. Teal’s Epsom Salt for the evening. This really all depends on the vibe I want to set for myself and the other products involved. I typically keep the Lavender and Eucalyptus on hand, but I recently moved and haven’t had a chance to pick those up, so I’ve been using this Basin Therapy Bath Salts as my bath salt base. It’s just–okay—but the key to drawing up a good bath is matching all of the scents accordingly. Right now my general bath vibe is detox/purify and this Basin that smells like clean laundry is working for now.

Photo of Em in a robe on a mint green background

At this point, there are at least a few inches of water which is enough for me to get in to finish the routine. Instead of pouring the liquid bubble bath while the faucet is running, I actually like to use the bath bomb before my tub is finished filling up. While any Lush bath bomb will do, I recently got hooked to Toby’s Magic Cow because it’s truly meditative to watch the cow turn into a rainbow in between my legs as the sound of water rushing fills the room. Like the salts, the bath bomb scent should be based on overall vibe, so this particular scent of patchouli works for a calm and cleansing mood.

When the bath is close to being filled up, I turn it off and wait until the bath bomb has fully fizzled out. This forces me to slow down and be present in the moment instead of rushing to get all the steps in, which is honestly the reason why I don’t have a regular skincare routine in the first place. Then, I choose my Dr. Teal’s bubble bath scent, and pour it in with the running water to get the bubbles going.

Once I’m satisfied with the bubbles, I turn off the faucet, lay back, and enjoy the comfort of warm water on my skin. While I would love to say that I just lay here peacefully for 30 minutes, the reality is that I go through TikTok or do some reading for school. Back before I was juggling so many jobs, I used to devote my bath time to only “fun reading” which usually just looked like any given collection of poetry I was into at the time. Maybe I should bring that back…

Photo of Em in the bath on a mint green background

I know I’m towards the end of my bath when it’s hard to keep my eyes open, so I wash my face and use body scrub all over my legs and arms. Some people are a bit grossed out by sitting in the same bath water post-face wash and body scrub, but I actually find it easier to access all parts of my body while in this position—so it works for me. Right now I’m using a sample of Tatcha cleanser for my face and a shea butter scrub I bought from a local queer, Black, Berkeley-based vendor at a queer wellness festival for my body. It has the rejuvenating scent of peppermint and the best part is that it’s created by people who know what it’s like to have dry, melanized skin.

The final phase of my routine is washing away access scrub while the water drains. I usually get out of the tub a few inches before the water is fully gone just because I don’t like being cold. Once I dry off, I immediately put on my Honey Halo face moisturizer and a few different body lotions. When my skin is wet, it’s only a matter of seconds before it dries out again, so timing is key. Because First Aid is hella expensive, I usually stick to putting that on the driest parts of my body (legs and arms) and then finish the rest of my body using Cerave SA Body Lotion which is light and lowkey—and that’s a wrap for bathtime.
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Two photos of Em side by side on a mint green background

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As you’ll see from the photos, you can’t really see a difference between before and after shots, mostly because this is about the feeling of my brain in my body and my body in my skin. Feeling moisturized and relaxed, I know that I’m finally in the mental space to drift to sleep, so it doesn’t take long for me to put on PJs and jump in bed. If nothing else, I feel like I successfully carved out time for me to do nothing which is honestly a big feat. I’m constantly changing vibes and scents, and always on the lookout for new products, especially bath bombs. If anyone knows of any that have the same consistency and potency of Lush bath bombs, PLEASE comment! The other dupe I’m forever in search of is a reasonably priced body lotion for extremely dry skin with dark spots. I’m asking for a friend—the friend is me—so help a babe continue to have a beautiful bath routine and shout out your favs in the comments.

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Em Win

Originally from Toledo, Ohio, Em now lives in Los Angeles where she does many odd jobs in addition to writing. When she's not sending 7-minute voice messages to friends and family, she enjoys swimming, yoga, candle-making, tarot, drag, and talking about the Enneagram.

Em has written 28 articles for us.

14 Comments

  1. Wow yes, i love a bath so so so much. I usually have a bath snack as well (bowl of berries is a good one, and then usually an herbal tea or sparkling water, wine or beer sometimes on the weekend. I don’t do bath bombs or bubbles usually, but i do drizzle just a tad bit of oil so the water doesn’t dry my skin out.
    Bath time is always book time for me bc i am paranoid about dropping my phone, and it’s nice to have to force myself to slow down and not have my phone at arm’s reach for a little while. I’m going to have to try dry brushing!

  2. yayyyyyy!!!!!

    am/pm content for meeeee :)

    love love love this about baths on all the levels. and validation for washing myself in the bath!

    one thing i wonder is about how others manage the bathroom cleaning rhythm w the bath rhythm ? . . . . i uuusually and up cleaning it just before, but that increases
    the barrier to entry on the bath.

    also, does anyone know the science of epsom salts?? i am v curious.

    raw shea butter has been good for me but i dont know that i have skin dryer than most other ppl? i like that i have to work it in so i allllso get a minimassage that way.

    i didnt have a bathtub for a long time so i’d “have a bath” w a hot shower, followed by a heated blanket and shea butter w a playlist that lasts 45 mins or an hr.

    thanks for reminding me about dry brushing, never tried it but i want to. where does one dry brush? in the dry tub and then rince it out?

    • re: bath cleaning, the biggest secret I learned from a partner is to wipe away as much water as possible at the end of using the bath/shower each time. Removing the standing water and the soap residue = bacteria have minimal resources to grow.

      I keep a washcloth in the tub that I wring out and use to wipe down all the surfaces at the end of each use, including the walls and glass shower door. I use a rubber-edged squeegee sometimes for maximum dryness. If I’ve taken a bath (and left a ring of dead skin around the rim), I use the washcloth to scrub it while the tub is draining/while it’s still all wet and easily shiftable. I generally shower for ~5 min after a bath to rinse my hair which helps to rinse the rest of everything out, and then I wipe down all the surfaces. I also make sure to pull the hair out of the drain catch every time. And, I have a quart-sized deli container that I use to pour water around the tub (just inside the basin, not getting on walls or anything) to make sure all residue is rinsed down the drain before I let it dry (my grandma taught me this).

      Using this method I don’t need to resort to chemicals very often, but when I do I spray some white vinegar/water mixture or some CLR, wipe everything down, and rinse it with water.

  3. YES to a weekly bath! I do a big dust/vacuum/Swiffer mop of the apartment before drawing one every Monday and putting on an hour-long podcast. It’s a great way to start the week for myself and my Generalized Anxiety Disorder. It’s also become the only time I really drink (a single fruity or sour low-ABV craft beer).

    Dr. Teal’s is GREAT! I love it because — unlike so many other bath salts — the primary ingredient isn’t literally sodium chloride, which seems counterproductive to the overall goal of moisture. Also, I do most of my shaving in the bath, so pure salt can be hella irritating.

    As for post-bath, I love my OGX coconut oil lotion. It’s inexpensive, creamy, quite frankly smells of cookies, and my partner is constantly commenting on how soft my skin is!

  4. As a butch dyke who has never worn makeup a day in my life, I am so happy to read this AM/PM that is c o m p l e t e l y relevant to me!!! I never used to like baths but tried a lush bath bomb a while ago that absolutely blew my mind and now I want to make it a habit! (The bath bomb that blew my mind was a bat-shaped halloween-themed one from Lush and I read vampire erotica in the bath and listened to spooky music while it fizzed and spread glitter all around and made my bathwater purplish black, I HIGHLY recommend doing a ~themed bath~ like this.) Thanks for all the amazing bath inspiration :) It’s truly unfortunate that Europe is in an energy crisis rn and we can’t even really afford to turn the heat up let alone fill an entire tub with hot water BUT I AM GOING TO DO IT ANYWAY

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