Luxuriating in a large hot tub in my swimsuit on a frosty day, I understand why sales of private spa baths rose by more than 1,000 per cent in lockdown. This puts you in holiday mode.
Whatever else is going on, it’s hard to stay stressed in a hot tub.
I feel ridiculously relaxed in mine, even though it’s in a corner of the showroom of Hot Tubs Oxfordshire, near Bicester Village. (Ideally, it would be in the manicured grounds of my country home, beside my infinity pool.)
What’s more, the manufacturer of this spa bath makes special claims: not only do its jets massage away your aches and niggles, it can apparently also improve the health of your skin. Wallow in a private hot tub and look years younger? Don’t mind if I do.
TV presenter Amanda Holden, 50, in her hot tub, is perhaps the most famous fan of the microbubble magic. She bought her Marquis MicroSilk hot tub more than a year ago and is forever posting fabulous photos of herself enjoying it on Instagram
The secret of this alleged fountain of youth is the microbubble option — or as U.S. firm Marquis has branded it, MicroSilk — available on its finest tubs for an extra £2,000.
A microbubble, as the name suggests, is a bubble 50 to 100 times smaller than your typical hot tub bubble. They’re relatively stable in water — that is, they don’t instantly rise to the surface and burst.
When they do collapse, they transfer their oxygen to the water, making it oxygen-rich and transporting the oxygen to the skin.
UK-based columnist Anna Maxted testing a Micro Bubble Hot Tub at Hot Tubs Oxfordshire, which compares the luxurious home-spa to ‘an oxygen facial but all over your body’
Kenny Massey, of Hot Tubs Oxfordshire, compares it to ‘an oxygen facial but all over your body’. (Oxygen facials deliver a stream of high-pressurised oxygen to the skin surface, which in theory improves circulation and promotes the production of collagen, resulting in younger-looking skin.)
The Marquis brochure goes even further: ‘Microscopic bubbles penetrate pores and sebaceous glands to oxygenate your skin, reduce fine lines and wrinkles, and promote collagen restoration as you soak,’ it declares.
These tiny, negatively charged bubbles ‘also help eliminate free radicals in the body, which are known to cause cellular damage. This helps to slow the degenerative process which leads to premature ageing’.
After that fanfare, I’d hope to emerge from the tub looking like a teenager.
TV presenter Amanda Holden, who does indeed look far younger than her 50 years, is perhaps the most famous fan of the microbubble magic.
She bought her Marquis MicroSilk hot tub more than a year ago and is forever posting fabulous photos of herself enjoying it on Instagram.
But, sorry Amanda, I’m wallowing in the very latest model, The Epic, which starts at £17,995 and is part of The Crown Collection, no less. It arrived only last week from America, according to Carla, Kenny’s wife and business partner.
The secret of this alleged fountain of youth is the microbubble option — or as U.S. firm Marquis has branded it, MicroSilk — available on its finest tubs for an extra £2,000. Anna pictured before she jumps in to the Micro Bubble Hot Tub at Hot Tubs Oxfordshire
Anna said that the water quickly turns milky-white – the effect is caused by clouds of teeny-tiny bubbles, so small they look like specks
I spend a little time amusing myself with the tub’s normal-sized bubble features, and then, at the touch of a button on the tub’s ledge, the microbubble pump is activated.
‘The MicroSilk pump has impellers within it that grind the water, creating tiny, tiny oxygen bubbles,’ explains Carla. ‘There’s no chemical solution; it’s pure oxygen.’
The water quickly turns milky-white. I peer closely and see this effect is caused by clouds of teeny-tiny bubbles, so small they look like specks.
The water feels still, even though it’s moving, and when I touch my leg I can feel the bubbles clinging to the skin. If I press my hand to my calf, there’s the odd sensation of crushing minute bubble wrap.
After 15 minutes of wafting around in the water (the tub is roomy enough for me to float like a hippo), I feel fantastic. All tension has gone. It certainly feels rejuvenating. But will it really benefit my skin?
Anna said: ‘After 15 minutes of wafting around in the water (the tub is roomy enough for me to float like a hippo), I feel fantastic. All tension has gone. It certainly feels rejuvenating. But will it really benefit my skin?’
Anna enjoying a glass of bubbly in the micro bubble bath – anecdotal evidence so far has suggested that the hot tub is especially effective on psoriasis or eczema
At first it doesn’t seem to (my skin is normal if prone to dryness, and doesn’t feel especially hydrated after my dip), but the next day I rub my arm and it is smooth and conditioned.
Anecdotal evidence suggests it’s especially effective on psoriasis or eczema. But Dr Adil Sheraz, consultant dermatologist and British Skin Foundation spokesperson, says there are no robust studies to prove these particular claims.
‘Although it may make your skin feel softer, it cannot be recommended as a treatment for dermatological conditions,’ says Dr Sheraz.
And yet, it’s not a made-up concept created by the wellness industry. Microbubble and nanobubble technology (a nanobubble is 2,500 times smaller than a grain of salt) is now used for environmental purposes, because the unique properties of these bubbles mean they can improve water quality without chemicals.
For me, the jury on skin softening is out. But don’t let that put you off the gloriousness of the hot tub itself. Too long dismissed as naff, it’s the perfect form of relaxation for the midlife woman. Like us, it doesn’t take itself too seriously and is enormous fun.