Bath Goo

One of the things I lament most about the advent of modern architecture is the tiny tub. I personally blame Frank Lloyd Wright. Anyone who knows anything about architecture (and many who don’t) know FLW as one of the most famous Architects ever- Ayn Rand even used him for the model for her Howard Roark in The Fountainhead, for better or worse. One of the things about old Frankie is that he was not exactly tall: about 5’8”. One of the other things about old Frankie is that he had an ego that, when stod upon, made him NBA player sized. So he thought that 5’8” was pretty much the perfect size for a male human and sized his architecture to match. So much so that he (jokingly I hope) used to tell one of his 6’2” students to go somewhere else because he was throwing the proportions off.

Why, you might ask, did I bring this up? Well, a lot of FLW’s ideas came to be adapted as standard in building trades for reasons that had little to do with Wright’s aesthetic: He believed in small bedrooms because they were cozy and the family should gather together in the living room. Halls didn’t need to be much wider than a person and his kitchens (or “workspaces”) were designed by a person who clearly never cooked. All of his space was in the the great living rooms, usually with high ceilings, inviting hearths, and built-ins for seating.

Builders picked and chose: they took the small bedrooms, narrow corridors, galley kitchens and low ceilings and added into that “cozy” living rooms. An 8 foot ceiling suddenly became “soaring” and you were lucky to get a dining “area’ much less a whole room.

Then there were the bathrooms (You never thought I’d get there, did you?) “Luxury” fixtures became almost comically small while the population grew taller: toilets became as low to the ground as sports cars while bathtubs became more like small water features. Good for the builders costs, bad if you wanted to get off the Kohler without a crane.

So, the place I am in now has one of those tubs. It allows about a good 5 inches of water in below the overflow and is fairly short. So bathing isn’t exactly a luxury experience. If I won Looto I think I would put one of those wave pools in and just keep the Mr. Bubble on hand. In the mean time, I use my various scented bath stuff in my shower.

One of my defaults is Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint castile soap. It’s available everywhere (I get mine in the whopping 64oz size for $30 at Amazon and keep refilling) it’s inexpensive, and while some people don’t care for it, I kind of like the mild zing that the peppermint gives. It’s written on it’s side (among other rather nutty things) that it has many other uses which I have not tried. Have you?

Kiehl’s is another good one for bath stuff. I use their shampoo daily and have the Body Fuel wash in the 1 liter pump bottle. It’s pricey at $55 for a liter, but can be had for much less when they are having a sale, which is pretty much twice a year. It also seems to have some minty freshness to it, but less so than the good Doctors and seems to be more emollient.

C.O. Bigelow had been a favorite of mine since I lived in NYC in the 80’s and used to buy sundries from the store in the village. They have hand wash and body washes, in lovely scents like lime coriander, rosemary mint, bergamot, and a particularly nice musk (and yes, I do get the irony of shampooing off your own musk with soap smelling of someone else’s idea of of it) They all seem to be around $20 for 10 ounces, but again you can catch them on sale pretty easily at one or another retailer.

A recent purchase was something from Murdock of London: a jumbo black tea body wash that was marked down to $25 from $99, or so they said. Since I only have enough body wash to clean myself for the next two years or so I got one. It is a very nice and very strong tea scent that actually lingers on skin after the bath. Great if you want to just smell of tea but if you like to perfume yourself not so much. I will enjoy it while I have it.

I do have a bottle of Malle “French Lover” body wash that I hoard and dole out like caviar. It’s truly luxurious, highly scented and just luscious. It was a birthday gift from a very generous friend so I have not investigated the price. But when I run out I will gladly pay it again.

The last one that I have is a staple. Trader Joe’s Refresh Citrus body wash. At $2.99 for 16 ounces it’s practically free, and one of the advantages of my corner of LA is that we have 3 stores within a 5 minute drive from my little hovel. Whatever you do don’t get it from Amazon- it’s over 3 times the price than it is at the source and while I like it, I consider that to be a blatant rip-off. If you don’t have a TJ’s near to you ask a friend to grab you a couple and mail them. Or choose another brand- like I write, I like this one but could manage to soldier on without it if necessary..

So, what do you like in the bath? Do you have a tub that lets you luxuriate? Have a special shower gel you want to share? Let us know in the comments.

All of the items mentioned in this review were purchased by unless otherwise noted. Photo of my shower tower o’suds is mine.

  • Samantha L says:

    It’s funny because I’m not a particularly enthusiastic Rose fan but I love Rose Jam by Lush shower gel. I always have it. I used to buy the bubbleroon too…not to use in the tub but to scent my small bathroom…it was really strong. I wish L’artisan would make Tea for Two body products like they have some of the other scents, I want to smell like spicy tea 🙂

  • Musette says:

    oh, and I’m totally with you on FLW. Some intriguing architecture but… BUT! I have been in a lot of ‘challenging’ FLW buildings (Oak Park was just next door) and even been in that wackadoo motel on the Red Arrow Highway inMI (too long ago to remember – hang on… The Snowflake! that’s it). That is one of the most uncomfortable places to be in, EVAH! At least his homes are mostly wood. That metal … shiiiiver.

    And I’m 5’8″ and FLW architecture makes me feel like a giant.


    • Tom says:

      Sometimes interacting with thing, even things you’ve dreamt of, is disappointing. Case in point- I’ve always been mad about Billy Haines furniture- I think it’s the coolest. Well a few years ago I went to an event at the Beverly Hilton, which has a lobby full of his stuff. Damn! That was the most uncomfortable sofa I’ve ever sat on! You can see it was designed to look good when perched upon by thin women with perfect posture who’s backs have never, ever hit the back of a sofa.

      • Musette says:

        I feel your (back) pain! I had a similar reaction the first time I saw a Howard Hodgkin painting irl. All that zest! Color! that I found so fabulous in monographs? Not So Much in real life.



        • Tom says:

          I do have back pain, but it’s my own damned fault. I need to actually get off my non-existent a$$ and do some exercise. Something a little more taxing than lifting a forkful of tortellini.

  • Musette says:


    I was just thinking about this very thing! I have a thing for obscure (for US, anyway) ‘furrin’ bath soaps & gels. It harkens back to every grocery store in every fab, foreign place – the cheap and cheerful soaps, bath gels, etc that smell of everything and nothing…

    Bronner’s, on the other hand, smells decidedly (and divinely) of peppermint!


    • Tom says:

      I live in your head because it’s comfy!

      I just used the Doctors again this AM and I am minty fresh. Well until about 2, when men start to go ripe again. (I admit it, we do. Screw urinals, men’s rooms should have bidets)

      Rosarita reminded me of the Dilute! thing- do you think the peppermint was stronger back in the day?

      • Musette says:

        I don’t think so (re dilute!) – maybe. It’s still very strong, imo. But I don’t dilute, just use a very, very little. Never did dilute. That’s more work than I want to engage in during my morning ablutions.


  • Caroline says:

    Love this topic!
    During the pandemic my shower broke, and the landlord took too long to fix it, so I needed to take baths. Wow, I was missing out. Now I use them for relaxation—shower to clean, bath to relax.
    I have a normal/terrible tub too, and I’m in LA so it’s vintage grey brown pink. I bought an overflow cover on amz for $6. Best purchase ever, highly recommend. You can then fill the tub enough to reach your shoulders.
    I’m addicted to browsing Japanese bath additives (salts, minerals, clay type things which are prob bad for plumbing, moisturizing things). I like Olbas when I need to breathe better. I also DIY with Epsom salts and my own perfume mixes, plus a dollop of coconut oil or whatever fat.

    • Tom says:

      I can forgive a tub for being terrible if it is in a cool color.

      Try every month my secret (no really a secret or mine) for clearing drains: pour 1 cup baking soda down there followed by two cups plain white vinegar. It will foam up like a mofo, but keep pouring. let sit for an hour then flush with hot water. The foaming action will clear the pipes and the drains of build-up (not hair tho) and is the only thing what will get rid of this rotten little black drain flies and their larvae. I do it once a month in the shower, bath and all the sinks and haven’t had a clog (or a fly) in forever.

      Your house will smell like salad for a while. but hey, that’s what room spray is for..

  • rosarita says:

    Love this post! I’ve used Dr Bronner’s peppermint since forever, when the crazy label said Dilute Dilute Dilute! So sometimes I still dilute half and half with water. I use a few drops in a sink full of cold water to wash fresh produce and used to do hand laundry with it. There’s nothing better on a hot sweaty summer day than a cool peppermint shower. As for FLW, there’s a nice walking tour in Oak Park IL of his architecture that’s relaxed and pleasantly educational. I’m so glad you are back, Tom!

    • Tom says:

      OMG- I remember that! That crazy writing- do you think that it was stronger back in the day? I seem to remember it being so but it could be that my carcass is now aged and used to it.

      I never used it on food but that’s a good idea, and hand washing- brill. Especially with some of the other flavors.

      I wish I had taken a tour of Oak Park when I lived in the midwest, but didn’t. But heck I spent years in NYC and managed never to get to the top of the Empire State Building either..

      It’s good to be back, thanks!

      • Musette says:

        That’s the bane of the local, alas. I remember being asked (alladetime) about the best places to eat near (pick some Icon) … how the hell would I know. I live here. I eat at home. Or in my neighborhood. Not near Times Square. Or The Bean.
        Oak Park is an easy e from Chicago (nearest Western ‘burb) but I never did a tour, either. Just knew folks who lived in those warren-roomed homes.


        • Tom says:

          I used to live a couple blocks from Fenway park and some people would ask me what to do, where to go, and I had no idea what to tell them. The only place I went in the neighborhood was the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and The Ramrod.

  • VerbenaLuvvr says:

    Ah, Mr. Bubble–my guilty pleasure! 🙂 I have the opposite problem, though, our tub is so large that I feel guilty filling it so a proper bath is a rare treat. Several years ago at Christmas, the company sold travel sprays of the scent through Ulta and I bought an armload for stocking stuffers, which were very well received. I am also partial to Lavera body wash products, especially the orange, mint, lime, and lime scents.

    • Tom says:

      I hear you on that since we are in a drought-plagued area. I wish municipalities were more open to allowing people to use grey water for irrigation. I know the toilet needs to go to water treatment, but there should be a way that water from the tub, clothes washer (and maybe shower) could be collected and filtered to they could be used to irrigate the yard or something.

      I actually (and this is likely TMI) used to not drain my tub after every bath and flush the toilet using a bucket. I figured the water only had delicious smelling bath goo in it so why waste it and water to flush as well?

      • Musette says:

        that’s actually genius and I did something similar with sink water during one of our droughts. And I used grey water on the veg as well – you’re not watering the leaves, etc anyway, so it shouldn’t matter overmuch. Didn’t matter to me – or to my tomatoes & peppers. El O also built a great rainbarrel system (I wrote about it eons ago) and I used that stuff sparingly and judiciously. Tomatoes and peppers, once established, do better without a lot of water, anyway.

        xoxox (your nosy gardener over here)

  • Dina C. says:

    My adult daughter and I are both bath lovers. Our house has standard sized bath tubs built into two of the bathrooms. Since we’re not tall, that’s always worked out great. I love a scented bath gel. In the past I’ve enjoyed Chanel No 19, Prada Infusion d’Iris, Bottega Veneta, and a few other bath gels which were part of perfume gift sets. Dove used to make a micellar water scented bath gel that smelled aldehydic like No 22. I’m on my last bottle of that. Roger et Gallet The Vert and ReG Bois d’Orange both smell wonderful. Korres makes great bath/shower gels too. Love theirs.

    • Tom says:

      Those are great ones- I am kind of jealous of petite people who can fit in their tubs. Although, there are advantage to being tall- I can usually reach all the shelves without getting on a stool, which I hate.

  • Maggiecat says:

    Alas, multiple back surgeries have left negotiating bath tubs both difficult and painful, so much so that they cancel out the pleasure of the bath. However, I love my showers (we have a lovely walk-in that for me was the main selling point of our current home). I have enough scented bar soaps and shower gels to constitute a lifetime supply, but that doesn’t keep me from hunting down more. Fragonard’s Verveine (Verbena) soap and body lotion remain favorites, especially in warm weather.

    This group, by the way, is well-educated, cultured, supportive, and an all-around delight. I always enjoy Tom’s informed insights, and feel sorry for people so mean-spirited as to need to attack someone over aesthetic differences.

    • Tom says:

      Do you know that those walk-in bath commercials are starting to make sense to me? Apparently they have butt-warmer (as my friend Val calls them) seats and handles to help you exit and since you are sitting they only need he length of a standard tub for you to soak. I do wonder if I could get the water up to my chin- that would be bliss..

      I have always found the people on here supportive, understanding, educated, and helpful. I am sure I will continue to do so.

      • Maggiecat says:

        I’ve also been tempted by walk in tubs. I wonder if you can use bath stuff (bombs, bubbles, salts) in them though. Anyone know?

  • Eldarwen22 says:

    Ever since one of my dogs destroyed the plug in my bath, I can only take showers. My normal soap for bathing is Dove’s bar soap. If I am feeling it, I use my Amouage or Chanel soaps and lotions. Tons of Amouage bath stuff have been out of stock for a while, so I am hoarding the Lyric shower gel.

    • Tom says:

      I have to admit that I do a little of that too. I refuse to call it hoarding. I call it smart shopping. If Ina Garten says when you’re at the Piggly Wiggly you should get multiple pastas and such to save you a trip then why shouldn’t I do the same when I run across marked-down Vitabath? It’s only prudent..

  • cinnamon says:

    Love FLR architecture. However, here, we have a lot of wannabes — incomers who have built connect-the-dots modern boxes rather than structures that show some thought and imagination. It’s too bad — a lot of money into not much. I don’t have a bath. Bathroom was made into large walk in shower, cupboard for washer/dryer, and cupboard for boiler so that downstairs big back room was open and airy (ie, didn’t have w/d or boiler on wall). I have a bamboo stool in shower for accoutrement. Current shower gel is geranium. Really nice. Discovered I really wasn’t the bath type while living in the rental while work was being done. Every time I’d run a bath and look forward to it I’d get out in 5 minutes. I don’t find them relaxing (much more a long shower).

    • cinnamon says:

      Uh, that would be FLW…

    • Tom says:

      FLW had been corrupted (which was my point- I guess I didn’t phrase it properly) The modern “little boxes” house is a direct result of his Usonian houses (and to an extent, Eichler homes) being bastardized into cookie-cutter boxes with bare minimum rooms.

      A couple of apartments in my building they took out the (useless and redundant) bathtub and put a washer and dryer too. They still have large, walk-in showers so the tubs were kind of redundant. They worked out almost better than having the washer dryer in the kitchen because the bathroom fan works better to ventilate than the kitchen range one ever could.

      I like soaking in a tub- I feel like I can get really exfoliated that way and shower it off after.

  • MMKinPA says:

    I’m definitely a shower person. We live fairly close to Fallingwater so we have taken out of towners there a few times. My 6’2” husband always feels tall there. I come home, look at all of my “stuff”, and wish I could live that minimally. I use a lot of Yves Rocher shower gels, which smell nice and are dairy cheap. My son buys me Rose Jam from Lush each Christmas, along with a bath bomb for one of my rare baths.

    • AnnieA says:

      Yves Richer shower gels are great and pretty good value

    • Tom says:

      Lucky you living close- I’d love to see it in different seasons.

      I know it’s a joke at the expense of us “philistines” in The Fountainhead that those of us with “Stuff” couldn’t pare ourselves down to some modern architecture, but I like “Stuff” and ain’t gonna get rid of none of it. So give me some damned closets.

      One of my favorite jokes in “Galaxy Quest” is at the beginning when the captain character wakes up with a lethal hangover in his home, the famous Stahl house in the Hollywood hills. All glass, no curtains. Love it, toured it, don’t think I could live up to it.

  • Portia says:

    Hey Tom,
    You know how much I love my baths and that we put in a tall and wide friendly one in my bathroom. My ratio of bath to shower is probably 19/20 when home. There is a shelf of products for bathing and very little makes me happier than getting into a boiling hot bubble bath and playing dumb games on my phone for an hour. Then as the water goes tepid I finally cleanse and shave. Then a moment in the bath again to rest and as the water drains I have a 30 second cool/cold shower to get ready for whatever comes next in my day.
    Currently my favourite is both L’Occitane Lavande Foaming Bath and Shower Gel.
    Portia xx

    • Tom says:

      I know you love bath time too. I loved mine on Oakhurst and even rode out a minor earthquake in it, filled. If this were a Condo and I had the money I’d seriously consider one of those walk-in tubs so could soak up to my shoulders.

  • virago says:

    I’ve been lurking for ages but I had to emerge to comment on this post on one of my favorite topics! After a decade and a half of feeling sorry for myself for having only a shower stall in the oddly spacious bathroom of my otherwise petite condo, I finally got off the dime, refinanced my place (just before the rate hike), and am going to use some of the loan money to install a tub. My love of stern bath products leads me to believe that I will christen it with something by Kneipp. It would probably blend very well with the Clinique Wrappings Body Smoother and EDP that I’m still making my way through from Macy’s last Christmas.

    I’m fascinated by Fallingwater, and I have to say that I even briefly daydreamed about living there. As an introvert, I wouldn’t mind the seclusion, and I’m used to cold and damp from years living on the coast of Maine, heh.

    I saw the place with a friend with whom I’d been staying outside D.C. She’s 6 feet tall, and when she and her 6-foot-3 husband had toured Fallingwater the month before, she told me that the docent had looked directly at the two of them when he mentioned that Lloyd Wright apparently referred to tall people as “weeds.” Me-OW!

    • Tom says:

      I honestly think Fallingwater is the most beautiful house ever. But the Ennis house is one I would love to live in. He does the classic Wright thing, where you enter through an almost claustrophobic entry, up some stairs, zig and zag, until you enter the main room with the beautiful two-story volume of glass and almost filigreed concrete overlooking the LA basin. It’s magnificent. And the fact that it has a sunken Roman tub in the master that seats two seals the deal.

      Even though a friend who knows told me that the upkeep would be crippling.

  • causticfish says:

    I definitely splurge in the bathing category! Although I am only confined to the shower so I can’t play with bath bombs or bath milk. ! I’m also a quite the gourmand fan, so I’ve found great enjoyment from small indie retailers that have scents like cookies, cakes, and other delectable things. My favorite brands include Sugar Milk Co, Haus of Gloi, Sugar Works Beauty Lab, and Sweets for your Skin. I’ve tried several formulas of sugar scrubs, whipped soaps, and body gels. It’s been quite a couple of years since I’ve tried mainstream brands for bathing products. Except for shampoo and conditioner which I still can’t quite justify the price when I go through 8oz bottles so quickly.

    • Tom says:

      I used to tell myself that I didn’t like gourmand perfumes until I tried some from Indy and niche houses that I adored. I haven’t geotten into the gourmand bath products- yet. But your comment makes me want to try- the idea of a chocolate coffee hazelnut soufflé bath gel seems like the perfect start to the day!

  • Kathleen says:

    I quite enjoyed your post Tom. You made me laugh, doling out your Malle like caviar. I do that with my Chanel No 5 shower gel. Otherwise my favorite shower gel is Lush Rose Jam. I’m a fan of bar soap too. Olay, Dove, Camay, really all perfumed soaps are wonderful.

    • Tom says:

      Having recently written about Camay I kind of rediscovered bar soaps. I’ve gotten soap versions of a couple of the “cheap and cheerful” scents I’ve written about and although I haven’t used all of them yet, I do what my mom did and pop them in the linen cabinet and sock drawers. They make everything smell delicious. I’m seriously considering just sticking on under the seat of the car to see if it’ll work there.

      If I had Chanel No. 5 shower gel I’d never leave the shower..

    • AnnieA says:

      Chanel bath products are such good quality. Still miss the Cristalle and No. 19, but new favourite is Paris-Venise.

  • Joanne says:

    I am a huge fan of Frank Lloyd Wright. We have amazing houses in Vancouver, BC, Canada of his work. I will be removing myself from your site in a few minutes. The immaturity of your complaining is unreal. I have way more friends with way more experience than you in the perfume world. Good luck to you. Change your tune lady. A Canadian who is not say sorry for these comments.

    • Kathleen says:

      Bye Joanne, good choice to excuse yourself.

    • Tom says:

      Well Joanne, I’m sorry you seem to have completely missed the point here. I have loved and studied Frank Lloyd Wright since I fist saw a picture of Fallingwater when I was 12. I have studied Wright, his son, his grandson, architects like Ain, Lautner, Schindler and others who were students, influenced by or contemporaries of his. I have toured his buildings across the country. I also contributed to the Master Architect list when Beverly Hills was creating it’s Cultural Heritage Commission as well as serving on the board of the preservation group Beverly Hills Heritage. The fact that the building trades has used and bastardized the tenets of his architecture (and of others) isn’t new; Tom Wolfe wrote a whole book about it. I’m glad you have friends, and that they have more experience in the perfume world: the number of people with more experience than I is, I would guess endless. I would hope they would be adept at gender identification, since I believe that I more than once have noted that I am indeed male, unless the “lady” bit was a swipe at being gay. In which case, good one. Good luck in your future endeavors from this California architecture buff and completely amateur perfume buff. Signed, Tom, who isn’t sorry either.

    • Martina Dinale says:

      BAAAAHHHHHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAAHHHH . New to the planet , minou ? Orr … to the internet perhaps ? Nono … I have it : to ADULTHOOD !

      • Tom says:

        Well, Moo, you’ve known me almost fifty years and you know I like FLW- we toured the Ennis House back when it was still owned by Gus Brown and the guy at The Schindler House on Kings Road gossiped about how he spent all the money filming on himself while the house crumbled.

        It’s not like I quoted from Ken Burns really unflattering but wholly accurate dissection of FLW’s very flawed personal life. Or the fact that some of his most magnificent and famous works either didn’t really work as for their intended purpose (Guggenheim Museum) or were so flawed in execution that huge amounts of money were required to keep them standing (Fallingwater, Ennis House, Freeman House). Or even the fact that he admitted himself that his furniture was, at best, uncomfortable.

        That would have just been mean.


    • Maya says:

      Wow Joanne, for someone who has no sense of humor, your little hissy fit was funny. Bye bye.

    • cinnamon says:

      Troll? Clearly, you didn’t read Tom’s post very carefully. Ah, well, we all have off days.

    • MizChris says:

      Real Canadians are gracious, kind and courteous to a fault, so clearly you must be from some other planet, lady. Whadda Cee U Next Tuesday.

  • taxi says:

    I’m tall & can only get half of me at a time into nice warm tub water while the other half is cold. I shower unless I’m at a hotel with big tubs. Bath gels work fine in a shower, especially with a big fluffy sponge. The lemon-y ones are my faves.

    • Tom says:

      My first LA apt had a tub that I could actually fit in. It was bliss. Honestly, if I won looto I think I would just have a custom made one with heated walls, floors and jets. Of course I’d likely never leave it..

      I tend to like citrus too. If you have a TJ’s near you get that citrus one. It’s great and really cheap.