This past week I’ve had a touch of flu, the kind that kicks off with aching muscles, sensitive skin, and chills. For a day, the only time I was comfortable was in a hot bath. And what helped keep me comfortable before I pulled on the layers and slipped into bed was a gentle patting of scented bath powder.
I only use bath powder four or five times a year. It can be messy, and powder that’s talc rather than cornstarch has health risks. (Try not to inhale talc-based powder, and keep it away from your lady parts.) Most often after a bath my skin wants moisture, and I reach for lotion.
Bath powder has been out of fashion for years, and it’s not easy to find good quality bath powder these days. Powder went from being a necessary part of hygeine to an optional indulgence when effective anti-perspirants went on the market. But when I crave a silky, maternal presence, bath powder is the answer.
Bath powder makes your skin as smooth as silk charmeuse. Clothes slide over powdered skin. Voluptuously built people might appreciate the combination of dryness and lubrication powder offers limbs and breasts, especially when it’s warm out or when you’re sleeping. Plus, scented powder gives just a hint of perfume. (As you might expect, the fragrance is going to be powdery, even if it’s not a powdery fragrance to start with. I have a canister of Lanvin My Sin bath powder, and even it smells powdery.)
I’ve learned to apply powder with care. Most powder comes in a tub with a velour puff or in a canister with a shaker on top. (I’ve craved a Caron swan’s down puff for years.) If you don’t throw powder around in front of a fan, it won’t explode into the air like in cartoons. Simply pour a tiny amount — seriously, half a teaspoon is enough to powder a torso and both arms — into your palm and smooth it onto your skin. Powder is also terrific lightly sprinkled into slippers or smoothed on the soles of your feet before putting on shoes.
Again, whether or not the powder is talc or cornstarch, keep it out of your underwear, and don’t fluff it around so that you accidentally inhale it. When powder is thinly applied like this, it won’t stick to clothing and sheets, and it doesn’t dry out your skin.
These days, bath powder isn’t part of most companies’ regular fragrance line-ups, but a few lines, including Santa Maria Novella, still offer it, and I’ve found lots of unopened boxes of bath powder at estate sales.
Do you ever use bath powder? Do you have any tips to share about using it?