Borghese Fango Mud bath has a huge following, despite the fact that it has to stay on your body for at least five minutes (name one thing you can do slathered with mud for five minutes). It does seem to give your skin a lustrous, soft sheen. Retailing at pounds 29, which seems steep for a 500g jar of mud and a sponge, it's very popular with Europeans. Less glamorous is Moor-Life Bath, the 100 per cent natural soak. It's instructions are irresistible: soak for 20 minutes, wrap yourself in a towel and snooze. The water goes pitch black but won't stain. Whacky and strangely soothing. pounds 8. Call 01825 765678 for stockists.
It takes 30 steps to make Crabtree & Evelyn glycerine soaps. Maybe that's why they are moisturising and long-lasting. Buy many for gifts and at least one for yourself because, mark my words, you'll wish you had (pounds 2.90 individually or pounds 6.90 for boxes of three. Mail order: 01235 862244).
The small shop Santa Maria Novella traces its routes to a Florentine pharmacy founded in ad 1221 and carries, among its exotica, a small but exceptional selection of fine (read "pricey") soaps for discerning (read "pompous") bathers. Service is non-existent but the products are, alas, wonderful (0171-460 6600).
At the fun end of the spectrum, Lush Ballistics are four sorts of fizzing balls which soothe, moisturise or stimulate. Fun to use, easy to pack and great to gift, use caution with the one called "Summer Blues", which carries an explosion of larkspur, cornflower and mallow petals. By the time you're done bathing, you'll be too relaxed to clean out the tub. From 95p to pounds 1.75. Mail order: 10202 668545.
Origins Salt Rub comes in an impressive Mason jar and is a fragrant slime of salt, mint and oily stuff. Great for bath or shower, when I used it friends actually said I smelled great, which made me think I must smell of soup without it. Teri Hatcher, co-star of the new Bond movie Tomorrow Never Dies uses it so it must be good (pounds 20 for 600g). Call 0800 731 4039 for Origins customer-service line.Reuse content