13 best bubble baths: From stress-busting scents to nourishing formulas

·14 min read
<p>Choose from cruelty-free, eco-friendly and soap-free options for bathers with sensitive skin </p> (iStock/The Independent )

Choose from cruelty-free, eco-friendly and soap-free options for bathers with sensitive skin

(iStock/The Independent )

As reliable as a hot cup of tea to soothe, replenish and comfort, the humble bath can be a true godsend at the end of a long, stressful day or week. Just thinking about sinking into warm water, the tub filled with soft bubbles, is enough to bring those tension levels down a notch.

How you like to take your bath is personal preference, as is what you choose to pour into the running water. There’s a plethora of soaks, scrubs and bath bombs out there to ramp up your bath time, but the product with the most enduring appeal has to be bubble bath.

There’s something so beautiful and luxurious about a bath brimming with cloud-like bubbles, not to mention the fun architectural possibilities they present when you’re a small child.

Whether you’re looking for something to help you sleep, soothe aching muscles or wash away fatigue, we’ve tested a range of bubble baths to find the best out there for you to splash your cash on (pun intended).

It was a tough ask, but we took the task seriously, sinking into mounds of bubbles and taking note of fragrance, feel, lasting effects, value and all round experience of the product. You’re welcome.

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The best bubble bath products for 2021 are:

  • Best overall –L’Occitane lavender foaming bath: £27, Johnlewis.com

  • Best refillable option – Bramley bubble bath: £14, Bramleyproducts.co.uk

  • Best luxury buy – Susanne Kaufmann mallow blossom bubble bath: £47, Susannekaufmann.com

  • Best for everyday use – Dr Teal’s coconut oil foaming bath with pure epsom salt: £6.99, Superdrug.com

  • Best eco-friendly soak – Nereus London Madagascan ylang ylang natural body wash: £20, Weearth.com

  • Best for sleep – Neom real luxury bath foam: £22, Neomorganics.com

  • Best for sensitive skin – Farmologie pink grapefruit bath soak: £5.99, Boots.com

  • Best for kids and teens – So...? Sorry Not Sorry moo’d bath milk: £4.66, Superdrug.com

  • Best for relaxation – Neal’s Yard Remedies geranium and orange foaming bath: £15.10, Nealsyardremedies.com

  • Best multitasker – Espa bergamot and jasmine bath and showel gel: £19, Cultbeauty.com

  • Best fragrance – Molton Brown re-charge black pepper bath and shower gel: £22, Johnlewis.com

  • Best for after a workout – Elemis aching muscle super soak: £40.90, Feelunique.com

  • Best for families – Childs Farm baby bedtime bubbles: £3, Ocado.com

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 testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism acrossThe Independent.

L’Occitane lavender foaming bath, 500ml

Best: Overall

This beautifully scented and utterly relaxing foaming bath from L’Occitane will leave you feeling soothed in both body and mind as it transports you to the lavender fields of Provence.

Housed in a reusable aluminum bottle, the French brand also sells refills (£20, Loccitane.com) of this bestseller so topping it up when you run out is a breeze. It’s an important step in reducing bathroom plastic waste: the eco-refill boasts 84 per cent less packaging weight and works out as better value for money at £20 for 500ml. If you’re wondering what on earth you then do with the empty refill pouch, then they’ve got that covered too (check out their recycling programme with TerraCycle to find out more.

We loved winding down at the end of a long week by slipping into a bath of these foaming lavender fragranced bubbles. Not only does it smell and feel luxurious, it also noticeably helped in preparing us for a restful night’s sleep. We’re also big fans of the subtle fragrance, as some lavender products can be overpowering, and loved the way the scent lingered on the skin. For anyone who’s struggling to relax or slow a racing mind, melting into a tub of this delightful bubble bath is a must. Although it’s not the cheapest, a little of the product goes far, with only a few drops needed for a deliciously foamy bath.

Buy now £27.00, Johnlewis.com

Bramley bubble bath, 250ml

Best: Refillable option

Proudly made in the British countryside, Bramley’s products effortlessly transport you to the meadows and pastures of its Wiltshire origins. Interestingly, the brand was first created for the founder’s pub, with guests loving the products so much they wanted to snap them up themselves. Years on and the ethos of Bramley hasn’t changed, and they’re not only Leaping Bunny approved and vegan friendly, but they’re made with 100 per cent natural botanicals and essential oils. They’re also hot on refills (£130, Bramleyproducts.co.uk), with many of their products coming in five litre options on their online shop. You can frequently spot the refills in zero waste shops too.

A cocktail of apple seed oil and organic apple extract, blended with essential oils of geranium, lavender and sweet orange makes for a herbal and botanical bubble bath blend that’s refreshing and soothing. It makes a generous foam too, although the bubbles may not stick around as long as some (Bramley says that although the bubbles fade, the oils don’t). Stepping out of the tub we were left feeling hydrated and silky smooth.

Buy now £14.00, Bramleyproducts.co.uk

Susanne Kaufmann mallow blossom bubble bath, 250ml

Best: Luxury buy

At just under £50 a bottle, this bubble bath smells as expensive as you’d expect. It’s also a beauty editor favourite, with many of the Austrian skincare brand’s products boasting a cult following. Like the other products in her range, the mallow blossom bubble bath reflects Kauffman’s passion for a holistic approach: main ingredients of lavender and mallow are anxiety-relieving, calming, moisturising, and soothe irritation. But importantly, they also deliver results with skin left feeling nourished, soothed and pampered, while a glug of the liquid is enough for a tub full of bubbles.

The brand strongly believes in sustainability and transparency so it’s great to see that their website lists in detail – and without the jargon – exactly what each of the ingredients in the product does. The mallow blossom bubble bath is definitely a luxury buy, but what a fabulous treat to bring out when you need that extra special pamper time. It’ll leave you feeling like you’ve stepped straight out of a five star spa in the Alps.

Buy now £47.00, Susannekaufmann.com

Dr Teal’s coconut oil foaming bath with pure epsom salt, 1l

Best: For everyday use

An absolute classic, Dr Teal’s foaming bath range is one many turn to when they need a big old bottle of no-nonsense bathtime bliss. Packed with epsom salt to help with sore and aching muscles, it also contains coconut oil to nourish and soften skin and leaves a subtle sweet fragrance, which we liked.

Simply pour a good sized amount under warm running water for a generous supply of long lasting bubbles. At under £7 for one litre, it’s an absolute bargain. Of course it doesn’t have the luxe appeal of some of the others we tested, and its packaging isn’t necessarily going to add to your bathroom shelfie, but for an everyday option that won’t break the bank, we think it’s a strong choice.

Buy now £6.99, Superdrug.com

Nereus London Madagascan ylang ylang natural body wash, 250ml

Best: Eco-friendly soak

Although technically this is a body wash, trust us when we say you’d really be missing out by not adding a few drops of this sumptuous mix into a warm bath. Soothing Madagascan ylang ylang and calming camomile is mixed with the smokiness of patchouli to create a subtle, yet rich scent that is perfect for creating a spa-like experience. There are even bubbles – a splash or two of this will ensure that your soak is sufficiently frothy.

Made in Britain, cruelty-free, vegan friendly and with zero plastic impact, Nereus are a luxury eco-friendly brand to have on your radar. We loved that the formula comes in a reusable BPA free aluminum bottle with a label crafted from wood pulp, plus the fact that the product contains 100 per cent natural and organic fragrances. As well as having a plastic-free supply chain (a result of visiting every single one of their suppliers in person), Nereus have pledged that for every bottle purchased, 1kg of ocean-bound plastic will be collected through their partners Plastic Bank.

Buy now £20.00, Wearthlondon.com

Neom real luxury bath foam, 200ml

Best: For sleep

There’s a couple of big things this bath foam promises and we’re happy to say it delivers on both of them: luxury and stress relief. The glass bottle it comes in, the gorgeous ingredients and the abundant mound of bubbles it creates all felt very luxurious, while the beautiful scent of lavender, jasmine and Brazilian rosewood almost had us nodding off.

As well as marshmallow and coconut to soften skin, aloe leaf and sweet almond oil are present for their soothing properties. Throw in 24 calming essential oils and you have what Neom does best wrapped up in a bubble bath. All you need to do now is lie back and relax. Oh, and once you’re out of the tub, just wait for the compliments on the fragrance (100 per cent natural), which sits beautifully on the skin, to come flying in.

Buy now £22.00, Neomorganics.com

Farmologie pink grapefruit bath soak, 250ml

Best: For sensitive skin

If you have dry and sensitive skin or are prone to eczema, then shopping for a bubble bath can be a bit tricky. Luckily, Farmologie’s pink grapefruit offering is dermatologist approved and contains natural and naturally derived vegan ingredients, and is also cruelty free. The soak, which produces lovely indulgent bubbles too, uses ethically sourced colloidal oatmeal and oat oil which have been proven to help soothe dry and sensitive skin. There’s a refreshing pink grapefruit scent to the soak which we found really invigorating, and we’re fans of the fact that the bottle housing the product is made of 100 per cent recycled ocean-bound plastic collected from rivers and coastal areas. It’s a great purse friendly buy too.

Buy now £5.99, Boots.com

So...? Sorry Not Sorry moo’d bath milk, 500ml

Best: For kids and teens

Everything about this product shouts of its milky formula (it’s even housed in a replica milk carton with a sensible warning not to drink it) but don’t be fooled, there’s a flurry of lovely soft bubbles to be had here. There’s four different bath milks in the Sorry Not Sorry range from So…? – a brand you may recall being big with teens in the 90s thanks to their budget-friendly scented sprays. Now though, the brand is clearly looking to a new generation of teens: one that’s keen on Instagram friendly colourful packaging and loves a punny product title, such as “Milky Way Bae’’ and “Moo’d”.

Infused with peach essence and a fresh watermelon scent, we can imagine this vegan friendly product being a real hit with children and teens alike. It’s also satisfyingly bubbly and leaves skin feeling really soft. If you like sweet fragrances then you’ll be pleased with the way the aroma lingers on the skin. Our only bugbear was that the carton, which is actually a rigid plastic bottle within a cardboard outer, isn’t the easiest to squeeze, while the design means it can be a bit messy to pour.

Buy now £4.66, Superdrug.com

Neal’s Yard Remedies geranium and orange foaming bath, 200ml

Best: For relaxation

Baths are so often associated with bedtime that it sometimes feels a little tricky to find a good luxury bubble bath that doesn’t just send you off to the land of nod. Although natural and organic beauty favourite, Neal’s Yard Remedies, do have a fabulous sleep inducing foaming bath named beauty sleep, it’s actually the geranium and orange that got our attention. We loved the zesty orange combined with balancing geranium and camomile, to create an unusual calming yet energising mix. Pour under running water to get a bathroom full of the gorgeous scent and bath full of bubbles. The iconic Neal’s Yard blue glass bottle is certain to look great in any bathroom too. Win win.

Buy now £15.10, Nealsyardremedies.com

Espa bergamot and jasmine bath and shower gel, 250ml

Best: Multitasker

Working just as well as a shower gel as it does creating big aromatic bubbles in the bath (just squeeze a few drops under warm running water), Espa’s bergamot and jasmine is a great multi tasker. Soap-free, it’s suitable for all skin types and only contains 100 per cent natural fragrance. It’s a bestseller for the natural beauty brand, and the heady combination of bergamot and jasmine has earned it a loyal following. A few drops of this and you’ll be lying back in the bathtub, dreaming you’re in one of the brand’s famous spas.

Buy now £19.00, Cultbeauty.co.uk

Molton Brown re-charge black pepper bath and shower gel, 300ml

Best: Fragrance

It’s certainly true that Molton Brown knows how to create a good foamy bath product. We could be here all day listing the merits of each of the British brand’s key scents (heavenly gingerlily! Blissful templetree!) but the black pepper fragrance is one that has earned its spot as an absolute go to. Beloved by both sexes, it has a sensuous and warming scent that is a great antidote to the sweet and floral bath products that are so plentiful. So, pop the taps on, throw in a squeeze or two of this smoky scent and relax (glass of wine or whiskey optional). We absolutely loved how the scent lingered on the skin for hours to come once we’d stepped out of the bath. Plus a little goes a long way, so although it’s more than £20 a pop, you’ll be happy to know it will last a little while.

Buy now £22.00, Johnlewis.com

Elemis aching muscle super soak, 400ml

Best: For after a workout

Smashed a tough workout? Or maybe just the general aches and pains of day to day life are making your body feel sore? Either way, a good soak in the bath has long been praised as a crucial way to tackle aching joints, muscles and a way to ease cramps. While you’re there you may as well throw in something designed to target this area, such as Elemis’ aching muscle super soak, which also creates a satisfying frothy bath.

The muscle soak is one of Elemis’ most loved products and for good reason. Packed with extracts of birch, juniper, rosemary, lavender, thyme, and blue camomile as well as clove (which gives it its signature, almost medicinal scent), the soak also contains sea salt to really get to work on tired and overworked muscles. We loved using this to really warm up aching muscles and found it a soothing balm after particularly intense exercise or activity.

Buy now £40.90, Feelunique.com

Childs Farm baby bedtime bubbles, 250ml

Best: For families

Sometimes a baby product is so good, we want to use it ourselves. This award-winning bubble bath for babies fragranced with sweet organic tangerine oil is suitable for newborns and upwards, and is paediatrician approved. Suitable for sensitive skin and for those who may be prone to eczema, we think it’s a great option for all the family. Not to mention it’s a total bargain.

Pour a large glug of this into warm running water to create a tub full of cloud like bubbles and enjoy the sherberty scent of tangerine in the air. While baby soft skin isn’t guaranteed, ours was left feeling nourished and soothed.

Buy now £3.00, Ocado.com

The verdict: Bubble bath products

L’Occitane’s lavender foaming bath is the bubble bath we kept coming back to again and again. Soothing, luxurious and softening, we know we’ll be topping ours up again soon with one of their refills.

For sensitive skin, Farmologie’s pink grapefruit bath soak offers great value for money as well as being an all round excellent product. Nereus also deserves kudos for creating a really luxurious product that smells superb, and for their strong ethical focus.

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