‘Nothing is softer or more flexible than water, yet nothing can resist it’
– Lao Tzu
The healing effects of water are well-documented. Not only does water give us life (we are made up of at least 50% water), but it prolongs life, used both medicinally and as a means of therapy for centuries.
A tonic like no other, water is universally restorative. For some, a dip in the sea is their salve, for others, a salubrious soak in the tub. For Roberta Schmidt, it was a bath, the after-effects proving so "life-changing" she decided to dedicate an entire brand to the art of bathtime, Bertie Body.
Baths have long been a powerful mode of healing. They have been shown to boost longevity, increase anti-aging processes, elevate mood and reduce stress with the practise of balneotherapy — the use of hot water or thermal treatments to decrease pain and stiffness and promote muscle relaxation, commonly in mineral rich waters — used as early as the 5th century.
Distilling this idea of balneology (latin; balneum:bath) — the science that studies the healing effects of thermal waters, and their use in the treatment of diseases — Schmidt created a bespoke service that honours the ritual of bathing. With a vision to evolve the bath into something more, she set out to supply our skin with the nutrients it needs to prosper while submerged; rinsing your mind, body and soul of the daily stresses we encounter in a modern existence. Recyclable and handmade, the salts unite her love of bathing and mixology, making bath time that extra bit fun (and of course, rewarding).
Here, we get into the tub with Roberta, who explains how running a bath can change your life.
What inspired you to create Bertie Body?
I simply just my love baths and mixing potions/oils. The after-effects of a bath or epsom soak can't be denied, so why not innovate this and extend it to skin care and relaxation via the olfactory system. I love incense as well, so it sort of fuses those three things. It's pretty well known amongst my group of friends, and i've was encouraged over time to turn it into something I can share with more than just friends aka starting a business!
Tell us a bit about the process of making the bath salts and how do they differ from the ones that are on the market?
Right now, I hand-mix all the BB salts. It took some refining and my friend Mikey did the admin and gave feedback while I yelled out different oils, superfood powders and combinations to him (bless) in a frenzy of essential oil and herbal scented mania. Eventually after giving friends and family all the combinations to try, the first range of four salts were decided upon. My main goal was to make them nutrient dense, original and earthy. I really wanted the BB customer to be able to feel that goodness soaking into their dermis. The ones currently on the market seem like a rip off to me - small amounts, for epsom and salt-heavy products just didn't seem right. I made something that I would want to purchase myself, and being a bath fanatic, and a pamper-night purist, I wanted something which genuinely had noticeable results and didn't skimp on the expensive ingredients.
Collagen seems to be a very popular ingredient in the beauty and wellness industry. Your ‘Rejuvenating youth tonic’ contains Marine Collagen, can you tell us a bit about it and how it works?
With good reason. Collagen aids everything from your digestion and gut healing, to your joints and ligaments, as well as skin rejuvenation and anti-wrinkle benefits. Collagen is the fibrous protein constituent of bones, cartilage tendons and connective tissue. While you can eat plant based foods which may help 'boost' collagen production, you cannot find 'vegan' collagen products. The Marine Collagen I use is a pure form of hypoallergenic protein produced from fish. Fish skins or bones remaining from food production are thoroughly washed, then hydrolyzed by an acid and a food grade enzyme to yield marine collagen peptides, which have a low molecular weight for easy digestion and absorption. Chances are, any of the collagen products you have in your cupboard are either bovine or fish-derived, however although not vegan these products are sustainable in the sense that they allow for the use of the entire animal.
Everyone experiences stress, some effects of stress can cause physical and mental health risks based on the severity of the symptoms. This year has been exceptionally challenging, what is your de-stress routine?
Put the kettle on, brew a tea and run a bath. Stay in said bath for at least 25 minutes, and the rest rolls from there. Ideally, I love to pop on my hair mask and face mask, but when you're really stressed, I mean the definition of 'STRESS' (aka: in the grips of anxiety/stress), doing anything seems hard and the mind doesn't even know where to begin. That's why sometimes it's easier to pour a wine than to de-stress another, healthier way. After a bath, tackling life and laying out what has to be done is truly a much simpler task, and from there, looking after yourself becomes a ritual rather than a chore. Perhaps the reason people have been so receptive to BB is because of the current social climate, and maybe a nutrient and mineral-rich soak is just what we all need.
What have you learned as being a women/womxn/lady/female/she/her about your body that you would like to share?
The quiet but insidious shame that we have all, at some time, lived through, which we think other women don't - this insecurity is an illusion. Worrying about our weight, the shape of our breasts, our genitals and our faces is something which men don't seem to obsess about half as much. I've realised our bodies are imbued with the respect we, ourselves give them. Feeling strong and powerful in them transcends any shape or size difference to the point where that confidence overtakes and suffocates any doubt. It sounds hyperbolic but I can't emphasize how strongly I believe that. I've seen some of the most unconventionally 'attractive' women become attractive beyond measure purely for their confidence, self-awareness and core spiritual beliefs.Discover Bertie Body here.Photography by Natalia Parsonson.