How Long Should a Bath Really Last, Anyway?

Believe it or not, bathing is more complicated than just sitting down in your tub.


After a hard, stressful day, having a long soak in a bathtub can be incredibly relaxing. Unless you do it wrong.

There aren’t a lot of ways to mess up a bath, but if you make the mistake of staying too long in a bath that’s too hot, your skin’s going to pay for it. “The hot water starts to suck moisture out of your skin,” says dermatologist Rajani Katta. “The key is, as soon as you get out, you want to add moisturizer to lock the bath’s moisture in.”

If you remember to moisturize afterward and keep the water’s temperature at 100 degrees Fahrenheit or less, you can stay in the bath as long as you want (pruning is not a problem, says Katta). Research indicates a bath could improve your mood, but in terms of physically relaxing your body, all you need is half an hour in the tub at most to get a bath’s full benefits. By that time, the warm water has expanded your blood vessels, which improves blood flow through your body.

Unfortunately, the sweat you’re producing goes into the water, along with all the dirt, grime and dead skin you’ve carried in with you, where it’s joined by any bacteria already lingering in your tub. Once you’ve washed, the water won’t get any dirtier, but you’re exposed to that bacteria from the moment you get in. It just depends on how long you’re cool with soaking in your own soup.