By putting drops into either running water or a fully drawn bath, oil can bring both skin hydration and scents for wellbeing.
Uplifting or calming, the beauty of bath oils is that they combine skincare and an at home spa-like experience in one – minus the excess foam a bubble bath creates. Plus, a deep hot bath is the ultimate warming treat after a long day.
Dating back centuries, in ancient Greek and Roman times essential oils were used for cleansing skin and health benefitsith lavender a particular favourite (its name originates from the Latin verb lavare, meaning to wash).
More recently, Estée Lauder herself created youth dew in 1953, the first cosmetics industry bath oil infused with scent. Phenomenally popular, at this stage, perfume was a gift from your lover or husband only. Making fragrance an accessible purchase for women, it cleverly doubled up as bath oil and perfume.
Today’s bath oils span across achy muscle relief, mood boosters and sleep soothing essential oil options. Not to mention multi-tasking beauty oil buys that work on hair, skin, and nails too.
Whether you’re looking for deep relaxation or moisturisation, look no further than our tried and tested roundup of bath oils, where we’ve found the best buys across all price points.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world and expert advice. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.
The best bath oils for 2021 are:
- Best overall – Ancienne Ambiance signature luxury oil for bath and body, 250ml: £44, Ancienneambiance.com
- Best for muscle relief – Ren Clean Skincare Atlantic kelp and microalgae anti-fatigue bath oil: £29, Renskincare.com
- Best to help you sleep – Aromatherapy Associates deep relax bath and shower oil: £49, Aromatherapyassociates.com
- Best budget buy – Marks & Spencer calm apothecary bath oil: £8, Marksandspencer.com
- Best for a reviving soak – ESPA energising bath oil: £32, Espaskincare.com
- Best lightweight oil – Tisserand total de-stress bath oil: £8.95, Hollandandbarrett.com
- Best for easy absorption – Comfort Zone tranquillity oil for bath and body: £45, Lookfantastic.com
- Best long-lasting scent – Jo Loves pomelo bath cologne: £55, Joloves.com
- Best for easy application – Elemental Herbology harmony bath and body oil: £28, Ocado.com
- Best multi-tasker – Lixirskin universal oil: £39, Cultbeauty.co.uk
- Best sweet fragrance – Neal’s Yard Remedies geranium and orange bath oil: £15, Nealsyardremedies.com
- Best for a mindful moment –Verdant Alchemy breathe in bath and shower oil: £42, Verdantalchemy.co.uk
Ancienne Ambiance signature luxury oil for bath and body, 250ml
After adding a couple of drops into our running bath, we saw splashes of this luxurious looking oil on the surface. The summery light orange and almond scent is gently indulgent, and gradually releases more fragrance too. Also containing the conditioning ingredient vitamin E, we rubbed the oil into skin while soaking.
Afterwards, we were impressed by how intensely moisturised our skin was, noticing a glossy sheen to our legs. This version has recyclable PET plastic bottle packaging, and you can also shop it in a glass bottle. It is a treat purchase, but the generous size would last ages.
Ren Clean Skincare Atlantic kelp and microalgae anti-fatigue bath oil, 110ml
Best: For muscle relief
Adding drops into a full bath, its marine scent fills the bathroom. Meanwhile, the oil itself spreads evenly, infusing the bath water, rather than just settling in patches on the surface. Packaged in a glass bottle, the oil contains Atlantic kelp and microalgae oil, hence the marine-like scent, plus omegas 6 and 9.
Our tester used this after a gym session and saw muscle achiness improved. After the bath, neither the tub nor your body feels greasy with any excess product, but skin is softened and smoothed, with fatigued limbs feeling much lighter.
Aromatherapy Associates deep relax bath and shower oil, 55ml
Best: To help you sleep
Bringing all-round relaxation, the square glass bottle’s instructions suggest users warm a cupful of oil in their hands and inhale the camomile, vetivert, and sandalwood scent. We did this at the end of a busy day before adding into a fully run bath, and were surprised to instantly feel much calmer.
The fragrance is strongly enveloping, but in a way that makes your senses soothed rather than overpowered. Its oil texture moisturises skin and is satisfyingly rich. Because of this, the bath can be slippery afterwards, so we were careful to rinse out all remaining residue. When climbing into bed later, snoozy from feeling so chilled out, we slept a lot better than usual.
M&S calm apothecary bath oil, 230ml
Best: Budget buy
The second any drops of this bath oil land on water, they turn into a milky swirl. There’s no frothing, just a slightly scented layer. Our tester found the refreshing blend of lavender, sweet orange, clary sage and cedar wood delicate, and ideal if you don’t like much fragrance in your bath. Very lightly moisturising, our skin felt soothed after the bath, but while in it, the water wasn’t thick with product. A brilliant bargain buy in a glass bottle, for subtle scent and lightweight bath product fans.
ESPA energising bath oil, 100ml
Best: For a reviving soak
The product transforms into milk when dropping onto the water surface, but once settled there’s no cloudiness. The spa-like scent of eucalyptus and peppermint is invigorating, and our tester noticed that when inhaling it through your nostrils you get a spa-like deep breath moment.
Packaged in a glass bottle with screw top lid, you can add as little or much as you’d like. Our tester noted the skin on her arms and legs especially felt really nourished and deeply moisturised post bath. The scent making for a reviving soak, our energy levels were boosted too.
Tisserand total de-stress bath oil, 100ml
Best: Lightweight oil
Packaged in a compact recyclable plastic bottle, which is a handy feature for easy small bathroom storage, the formula is made from 100 per cent natural essential oils including geranium, orange, and nutmeg. A revitalising aromatherapy scent, we put a few drops into bath water and noticed mood-lifting orange notes. A calm and comforting bath oil rather than a thick body oil, it’s a lightweight addition with a subtle fragrance for escapism and me time in the tub.
Comfort Zone tranquillity oil for bath and body, 200ml
Best: For easy absorption
Turning from oil into milk when dropping into water, this product has a blend of herbaceous amaranth oil and essential oils, which bring an aromatic scent that is natural and non-imposing. We found you can build up the amount of oil by adding more depending on preference.
Getting out of the bath, our legs were shiny and smooth, but it also felt as if the oil had been deeply absorbed. Our tester had a bath and then topped up using the versatile buy as a body oil, as it sinks into skin so well. The angular glass bottle looks great on the bathroom shelf too.
Jo Loves pomelo bath cologne, 200ml
Best: Long lasting scent
Although strictly speaking not an oil, this glass bottled bath cologne does bring a similar luxury to soaking in one. Designed for pouring into warm water as you run the bath, our tester noticed the potent, brightening citrus scent straightaway. The closest we’ve ever come to bathing in perfume, its weightless texture doesn’t leave any residue in the tub.
We could smell the rich zesty scent with notes of vetiver and patchouli on our skin for hours afterwards, and there was no need to spray on perfume, which was a welcome post bath plus too.
Lixirskin universal oil, 100ml
Created to be used on skin, hair, nails and in the bath, we love the chic pink glass bottle with illustration by artist Alexandria Coe. Our tester added two drops of oil to their bath, which settled on the surface like a mist, minus any bath greasiness. With a spirit lifting citrus scent, its essential oils include evening primrose, raspberry, peppermint, and grapefruit.
We found this product fab as a quick pedicure foot bath too, so you don’t always need to run a full tub. Lightly moisturising, and a very versatile buy, it’s a multi-tasker for the whole body.
Elemental Herbology harmony bath and body oil, 145ml
Best: For easy application
The glass bottle has a pump nozzle, making for easy application directly onto skin and into bath water. Our tester added two pumps to the bath and noticed its droplets pool at surface level. The mandarin, cedarwood and lime scent is crisp and invigorating, and a bath in it was mind clearing. Soothing on our skin even when dressed again, the formula is restorative for both dryness and if you just need a bit of TLC.
Neal’s Yard Remedies geranium and orange bath oil, 100ml
Best: Sweet fragrance
Presented in a classic blue glass Neal’s Yard bottle, layers of the oil pool in droplets on the bath surface after we swirled it into the water. The blend covers orange and geranium on the aromatherapy front, with soya, apricot, and wheat germ for skin nourishment. Between these, we mostly got the fresh and invitingly sweet scent of orange and apricot. It left a lovely layer of hydration on the skin for a welcome silky effect rather than an overtly oily one.
Verdant Alchemy breathe in bath and shower oil, 100ml
Best: For a mindful moment
Because of the cap on this bottle’s lid, only tiny droplets come out at once, so you can easily dot them evenly across your bath. Our tester immediately picked up on the head and nose clearing eucalyptus, lemon oil, thyme oil and apricot kernel scent. Perhaps because of the aforementioned way this oil disperses, your bath doesn’t become milky or murky.
A great buy if you’re going for mindfulness, the scent is rejuvenating, and although not as thickly moisturising as others, this oil does offer skin softness.
The verdict: Bath oils
For an indulgent bath oil buy, we really rate Ancienne Ambiance’s decadent moisture and fragrance blend. But equally impressive, if you go for muscle relief and skin soothing, we saw definite fatigue fighting results from Ren, while Aromatherapy Associates is unbeatable as part of your night-time relaxation routine. Freshly scented, Marks & Spencer comes in as an affordable option.
For the latest discounts on skincare and other beauty buys, try the links below:
Now you’ve got your bath sorted, why not set the mood with our best massage candles
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