Hellen New York’s Bath Brew

jar of bath salts
Photo by Dara Bankole

I feel like I was born in a bath.

Growing up, baths were one of the only places I could find true solitude in a household of six, and the ritual of getting the water hot, removing my clothes, and submerging my body was a process I could always control. Being in the water was a way of being out of time, and escaping the disdain I normally felt for my physical form. It’s so much easier not to hate your body when it’s floating. Baths were, and still are, a respite for me from the heavy stories I’ve written into my own skin. Every time I come out clean, I think I can begin anew.

Almost since the lockdown began in Los Angeles, I’ve been sitting with the Emerge From The Fog formulation from Hellen Yuan, trying to figure out just what I’m supposed to learn by opening my throat chakra. Yuan is the founder behind Hellen NYC, but don’t let the name fool you, both her affinity for water and salt — the Pacific Ocean, no less — and her healing modalities in reiki, meditation, intuition and chakra work come from a connection to California. 

While living in New York and working in fashion on brands that exalted the external, Yuan was drawn by her intuition to return to California and spend time with her father. Soon after, his health began to deteriorate rapidly, and part of Hellen’s journey into salts, reiki, and healing oils was inspired by seeking out natural remedies that would help ease his physical journey. After her father passed, Yuan continued working toward formulations for her four central Bath Brews: Center Your Heart (heart chakra), Emerge From The Fog (throat chakra), Feet On The Ground (root chakra), and Shoot Into The Stars (crown chakra). 

Formulated in Brooklyn and infused with reiki healing, each bath brew also comes with three precious stones, and a sound bath created by artists like Dynasty Electik and Vincent Matthews. Recently drawn to chakra work myself via completing a yoga teacher training program with Y7 last summer (they’re currently offering an online version, if the spirit moves you in quarantine), the importance of speaking up for myself has been showing up in my life over and over. I’ve been working to balance this funny little frog in my throat for the last few years, and since reading about Emerge From The Fog, which I kept misreading as “frog,” it was clear this was the one for me. 

Given my history with bath-as-ritual, it’s probably unsurprising that bath salts, accoutrements and all manners of bath bombs, elixirs, and brews have been high on my list for splurge purchases for many years. So, in the middle of an economic crisis and a fairly anxious time for all, let me get this out of the way — Hellen NYC Bath Brew is a splurge purchase. That isn’t to say it’s unnecessary or not worth it, quite the opposite, but when writing about bath salts that begin at $65 during a global pandemic, this grain of salt must be applied. 

For those who are still interested, there isn’t a bath salt in the world that’s appealed to me more, and I’m not sure if there’s another that brings both chakras and sound bath elements into the bathing-at-home process like Hellen’s does. I took my fourth bath with her Emerge From The Fog salts last night, and I can also say that even with extremely generous portions of salt for each bath, I have enough for at least two more baths. It’s $65 for 10 ounces, $85 for 20 ounces, so if you know you’re an avid bather, $20 more to double the size is definitely worth it — and if 20 ounces gives you six baths, that’s a little under $15 a bath. Much more manageable, cost-wise, if you break it down by actual usage.

Laying in the bath, applying the salts to my body and letting the water steep, placing the precious stones along my throat, heart, and sacral chakras, listening to the accompanying soundtrack — this has all been a comforting, intuitive ritual in the midst of crisis. This formulation is composed of french gray, epsom, and dead sea salt, then doused in organic bergamot oil (citrus x bergamia), pimenta berry oil (pimenta dioica), and organic wintergreen oil(gaultheria procumbens). Finally, cornflower petals are added to the mix, and the stones clear quartz (translucent), lapis (purple blue), chrysocolla (turquoise blue) are added.

At first, I wanted to keep putting off writing about this bath brew until I had some sort of epiphany or major life shift. I know I’m being more honest about my feelings in relationships, especially when the conversations are difficult or not what I think other people might want to hear, but I don’t know if that means I’ve balanced my chakra. I know I’ve learned the times when I need to bite my tongue, or back away from platforms like Twitter and Instagram where my anger and hurt feelings can sometimes get the best of me, but does that mean I’ve fixed anything, or just saved up a little patience?

Then, I decided the lack of epiphany, avoiding the forced narrative of a brilliant moment, felt more in tune with speaking my truth. I feel healed and whole when I take a bath, and that experience is only elevated by using these salts. I’m drawn to Hellen and her story, I love how the salts also include a combination of reiki healing, chakra opening and crystal work, and since staying inside has become more important than ever, baths are an increasingly ideal way to pass the time. Maybe emerging from the fog is a process as slow and wispy as the fog setting in. For now, I’m only halfway through the bottle, maybe, at the end of it, something else will emerge.

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