What is Bath Oil?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Bath oil is a body care product that is designed to be added to a bathtub. It is readily available in body care and bath stores, and people can also formulate their own relatively easily for a specific blend of oils or scents. Using this oil regularly will help to soften and nourish the skin, eliminating dry and rough patches, because the warm water of the bath opens up the pores to help the skin absorb the oil. Users can follow a bath with a toner or cold water rinse and then moisturize thoroughly to keep the skin healthy.

Bath oils should be stored in a cool, dry place or they will turn rancid.
Bath oils should be stored in a cool, dry place or they will turn rancid.

The base of a bath oil can be made from coconut, olive, sesame, nut, jojoba, or vitamin E oil. The cost of the product will vary depending on the base; vitamin E based oils, for example, tend to be quite expensive. Nut oils such as sweet almond are very common, so if consumers have nut allergies, they should read the ingredients of each product carefully. A plain, unscented product will often contain a blend of oils formulated to improve the condition of the skin.

Some people chose to make their own bath oils.
Some people chose to make their own bath oils.

Most bath oils are scented with the addition of essential oils. In addition to smelling good, a scented product can also be used for aromatherapy. Aromatherapy oils can be used to relax after a long day, energize for a night out, or support immune system health. Common aromatherapy ingredients include lavender, ylang ylang, rose, citrus, lemon verbena, bergamot, and yarrow. Most of these oils do not use potentially irritating essential oils, like clove and black pepper, although these ingredients are safe to use in small, measured amounts.

Bath oils.
Bath oils.

In some cases, a product will also contain dried botanical elements like rose petals and lavender. These additions add to the bath experience, but they can be difficult to clean out of a bathtub, as they tend to cling to the sides. People who do use products with dried flowers should make sure to use a hair trap when it drains so that the drain does not become clogged with petals, and try rinsing down the sides of the tub with a detachable shower head to remove the stubborn flowers.

Ylang ylang, which is often included in bath oil.
Ylang ylang, which is often included in bath oil.

Many people choose to make their own bath oil as well. Base oils are available from bath product suppliers and in some department stores; it should be stored in a cool, dry, dark place when it is not in use to prevent it from going rancid. In a clean container, individuals can mix one or more carrier oils, and then add several drops of the essential oil or oils of their choice. They should use approximately 1 fluid ounce (30 milliliters) in each bath.

Lavender is a common addition to bath products.
Lavender is a common addition to bath products.
Some people use bath oils to help nourish the skin.
Some people use bath oils to help nourish the skin.
The base of bath oil can be made from coconut.
The base of bath oil can be made from coconut.
Citrus bath oils provide aromatherapy benefits.
Citrus bath oils provide aromatherapy benefits.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


I love using bath oils and salts in the tub because they leave my skin feeling so soft and smooth. The one thing I would caution is to be careful when you are getting out of the tub though. The oils can make the surface very slippery and you want to make sure you don't fall as you are getting out.

Another thing I do after using oils in the bath is to clean the tub right away. The oils have a way of leaving a ring around the tub and this is much easier to clean if you do it when everything is still wet.


@FirstViolin -- My favorite relaxing bath oil is anything that contains lavender. After the end of a long day, there is nothing more soothing or relaxing than filling the tub up with warm water and soaking in some lavender scented bath oil.

This really helps me relax and I usually end up sleeping really well after using this. Lavender is one of the essential oils that is known to help promote relaxation, and I have found that it really works well for me.


@FirstViolin: My advice to you is use Avon Skin So Soft bath oil. This product gives skin the moisture it needs, and nothing works better to soften skin after a shower. It will smooth your skin without the oily feeling baby oil leaves.


My friend suffers from eczema, but she has found relief in a bath oil that contains oatmeal, along with sunflower and mineral oil. Oatmeal is really good at soothing dry, itchy skin, and the other oils make a protective layer of moisture on the surface of her skin.

She works at a vet clinic, and she has to wash her hands and forearms multiple times a day. The oil from the bath product keeps her skin from drying out from all the washing.

Before, her eczema was making her miserable. Now, she uses the bath oil every day, and she feels so much better.


@orangey03 – Now that you mention it, I have a bath oil that smells like oranges, but it does contain three other kinds of oil. I don't think I've seen any pure orange bath oil for sale, either.

Mine also contains coconut oil, almond oil, and jasmine essential oil. It has one of the most pleasing aromas I've ever smelled. Jasmine is one of my favorite scents, and I'm sure it plays a big part in the overall aroma of this bath oil.


To me, the best bath oils are the citrus kind. I have this lemon bath oil that I bought at a bath and body store, and it seriously wakes me up in the morning.

If I've had a hard day and I need to get things done at home after work, I will sometimes take a lemon bath to revitalize myself. This aromatherapy works every time.

I wish that I could find an orange bath oil, but I haven't seen any for sale anywhere. Are orange bath oils usually combined with other ingredients instead of being sold in pure form?


I used to get bath oil beads for Christmas often as a teenager. I loved to watch them dissolve in the water, and they made the water so oily that it felt soothing to my skin.

I had some rose scented beads in the shape of roses. I felt really refreshed and fragrant after bathing with those.

The skins of the beads would wilt as the oils were released. They melted faster in hot water than in cool water.


@FirstViolin -- Some of the most classic bath oil scents for relaxation are lavender, chamomile, and bergamot.

You should definitely avoid anything made from a stimulating substance, like tea tree oil, peppermint, cinnamon, or eucalyptus.

Of course you should experiment to see what you like the best, and a good way to start is to look through an aromatherapy directory -- that will tell you more about relaxing scents.


What are some really relaxing bath oils?

I teach all day and need something to relax into when I get home.

Does anybody have suggestions/favorites/things to avoid?


I love to try different bath oils, but my favorite so far has been pine bath oil.

The scent is really refreshing and the smell perks me up whenever I need a lift.

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