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Bath time gone wild

Beyond rubber duckies.

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SAMPLE SCRUB: Bella Boutique is awash.
  • SAMPLE SCRUB: Bella Boutique is awash.
In the old days, when there was no such thing as a red state or a blue state, all you needed for a bath was a tub, a towel, a rubber ducky and Mr. Bubble. But those “Calgon take me away” days are gone. Literally thousands of products have flooded the market to make washing oneself an “experience.” There are bath beads, bath salts, fizzy bombs and aromatherapy oils to drop in the water. An ocean of lotions, oils, creams and body butters to work into the prune skin you’ve earned soaking in the tub so long. While all of these products give you an excuse to hide out in the bathroom until the terror level drops another shade, shopping for these products may produce some anxiety. At least it did for me. It was with trepidation that I visited Bella Boutique (5623 Kavanaugh, 603-5373) a bed, bath and beauty store in the Heights. But Bella Boutique set me at ease. The lighting is subdued but not too dark, the background music unobtrusive, the decor soft. Two comfy-looking beds showcase pillows and bed linens for sale, and fluffy towels are stacked neatly on shelves along the wall. In the middle of the store are two tables where customers can try the various creams, scrubs and other beauty elixirs on sale there. Bella Boutique opened Nov. 6, and owner Narcissa Jackson was still unpacking boxes when I stopped by. She’s returned home after 10 years in Los Angeles, where she studied fashion merchandising at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising and worked as a bridal consultant for Tiffany and Co. She said she came home to be closer to family and to open the store. She said she tries to research and test everything she sells, from the body creams to the Egyptian cotton sheets. She seeks hot new products people can’t get locally. “I’m always on the lookout for different things people would like,” she said. That includes herbal tea bags for the eyes ($3 for two bags) and roll-on fragrance from Aroma M Geisha ($38). Magazines like InStyle and Oprah’s O magazine are helping to bring back the popularity of sachets, and Bella Boutique has them in several sizes and scents. Jackson said several bridesmaids have purchased them for shower gifts. There’s also a bed linen registry for couples and fun bride-and-groom hand towels. The family pooch will appreciate the Doggie Dryer microfiber towel ($20 for a large) on bath day. For the kids, there are crayon-shaped fruit-scented goat’s milk soaps ($14 for five). A gift package of goat’s milk lotion, soap, shampoo and body wash (along with an adorable goat stuffed toy) would make an interesting baby shower gift. Slip in a small pouch filled with travel-sized foaming milk bath, lip balm, body butter, lotion and soap for mom, too. See, it’s easy to shop at a bath store. Take a deep breath and plunge.

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