Friday, November 11, 2011

Life's Lost Little Luxuries #2: The Bubblebath

Jeanne Crain in a bubble bath— not for Hollywood only

Perhaps taking a bubble bath is not a lost luxury but certainly at the bottom of your to-do list. I remember when it was practically a nightly occurrence. OK, I was eight. Bubble bath was cheap even on a kid's allowance. It was the gift du jour of aunts, cousins and anyone else who didn't know you well. It also seemed to last longer and bubble-up better than it does now. You wouldn't even think of getting soaped up until the bubbles disintegrated. By that time the pads of your fingers were wrinkled. Ah the luxury of time to take a bath!

I know there are many women who do take baths. Usually it's a lifetime habit. It may be to relax, but it's mostly the way they prefer to get clean— usually sans bubbles. For the rest of us shower-takers a bubble bath is a once in a blue moon affair.

Bubble baths are a fairly recent conceit (and you know you are getting old when "early 20th century" sounds recent). The first bubble baths were created with effervescent bath salts. Bubbles baths were easy (though slimy) when soap began to be sold as flaked. Later surfectant alkl sulfate became the basis for the bubble bath foam we use today. I also remember colored gel lozenges that disintegrated under a powerful faucet and turned into multitudes of foamy bliss. In reading about bubble baths I see that children under three are not supposed to take them on account of the possibility of urinary tract infections. Aren't there things you wish you didn't know?

The best bubble bath of recent memory was just a few years ago. My sister and I decided to take an off-season, cheap package flight/hotel to London. That meant it was damp and cold in London, and our hotel looked a lot like the bed-sit from "A Taste of Honey"—faded chintz and a view over London of rooftops and chimney pots. Central heating meant there was a radiator in the bedroom, the bath evidently not considered central. There was no shower, but a tiny, deep tub. And it was cold in that bathroom! My sister and I bought bubble bath at Boots and each took baths sitting up to our necks in sweet smelling bubbles atop the hottest water I've ever tolerated. I brought back the little bit that was left in the bottle. Just a sniff takes me on that journey again.

I've toyed with the idea of buying one of those racks that goes across your tub. It has a book stand, a candle stand and a place for a glass of wine. Pottery Barn sells one for $149. At that rate each bubble bath would come to $25 a pop over six years, wine not included.

National Bubble Bath Day is January 8, which is also Elvis' birthday. I believe the connection is purely coincidental.

You can certainly still buy bubble bath. Oprah's favorite, the Lollia brand, offers a bottle of Breathe for $34.00. The Original Mr. Bubble will set you back $3.69. It seems that time is really the luxury no one can afford.


  1. Mr. Bubble never makes enough bubbles to fill my tub! Do you know if Lollia gets nice and bubbly? I love a bubble bath and oh how I wish I had a free standing tub for that wonderful rack!

  2. Sadly Lollia, for all its priciness, does not make a lot of bubbles. But it smells great, and the bottle is beautiful.