Read the Label: Relax Bath & Shower Concentrate by Clarins


This 'Read the Label' is focused on a relaxing bath and shower concentrate; specifically, the Relax Bath & Shower Concentrate with Essential Oils from Clarins. This two-in-one product can be used in bath water or in the shower by directly applying the product to a sponge before washing.

Related: Back to Basics: Fragrance in Cosmetics—'Simple' and Psychological

Clarins was founded by Jacques Courtin-Clarins in Paris, France in 1954. It started as an institute for positivity and to help women look and, more importantly fee beautiful. The company became a successful skin care brand, soon spreading globally.

To this day, formulation and development work still takes place in France, where the family-run business sticks to the original philosophy of understanding the needs of women whilst developing safe, natural (where efficacy is not compromised over a synthetic alternative) and effective skin care products.

Regarding the product at hand, as stated, this two-in-one formula can be used in the bath by pouring a small amount into the bathtub with running water to create an aromatic bubble bath, or used in the shower by directly applying the product to a sponge before washing.

Clarins claims this concentrated treatment activates with the heat of the shower/bath to release soothing and aromatic essential oils, such as basil, chamomile and petitgrain. It is reportedly suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin, and cleans while relaxing sore muscles with the help of St. John’s wort, linden and valerian extracts.

The ingredients below in bold are ones that I believe are strongly contributing to the product's performance and claims:

Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Lauryl Glucose Carboxylate, Lauryl Glucoside, Polysorbate 20, Citrus Aurantium Amara (Bitter Orange) Leaf/Twig Oil, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Phenoxyisopropanol, Disodium EDTA, Ocimum Basilicum (Basil) Oil, Sorbic Acid, Pelargonium Graveolens Flower Oil, Fragrance (Parfum), Anthemis Nobilis Flower Oil, Valeriana Wallichii Root Extract, Tilia Cordata Wood Extract, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone, Linalool, Geraniol, Citronellol, Limonene, CI 42090/FD&C Blue 1.

Editor's note: While the "Read the Label" series provides an overview of the ingredients cosmetic manufacturers use and their related claims, without use levels or access to clinical studies, the author is drawing conclusions based on speculation—albeit from training, formulating experience and, in some instances, evidence in the literature. The following is offered for your consideration and further verification.

Sodium Laureth Sulfate 

I like that a high-end brand uses SLES in its product. SLES is sometimes mistaken as a "cheap" ingredient but you cannot beat its efficacy for cleaning and foaming properties.

Clarins does claim that it tries to use natural ingredients where the efficacy of the product is not compromised, so I’m glad that they’ve kept this part natural/part synthetic ingredient in the formula. It helps with flash foam for the product to foam instantly upon lathering. Also SLES can help build the base viscosity of the formula upon the addition of salt. 

Previously: Alternative Ingredients for Sustainable Shampoo Development

Cocamidopropyl Betaine

This is an amphoteric, naturally derived surfactant that is mild on the skin. It is mostly used as a co-surfactant as its foam performance is standard. However, it reduces the irritation of cleansing products by lowering the required levels of primary surfactants.

Sodium Lauryl Glucose Carboxylate (and) Lauryl Glucoside

This anionic surfactant blend is widely used in rinse-off formulas. It is mild, it can be used in a variety of applications and it has gentle cleansing properties. 

Polysorbate 20 

This o/w non-ionic emulsifier is used in emulsions but this case, it is helping to solubilize the essential oils in the formula to maintain a clear system. 

Citrus Aurantium Amara (Bitter Orange) Leaf/Twig Oil

This is known as petitgrain oil and is a yellow, semi-viscous essential oil. As the name suggests, it is extracted from the leaf and twig of the bitter orange plant for a bitter citrus aroma, combined with light neroli.

Butylene Glycol

This ingredient is usually a synthetic solvent but natural grades with excellent solubilizing properties are available. It helps to solubilize essential oils that can sometimes appear cloudy in formulas, thus creating crystal-clear products.

Featured: Comparatively Speaking: Essential vs. Natural Oils 

Tilia Cordata Wood Extract

This active plant extract has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It soothes irritated skin and provides a moisturizing effect on the skin in rinse-off and leave-on products.  

Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone

These preservatives are widely used in rinse-off products as they are highly effective but are banned in leave-on products due to sensitization concerns.

CI 42090/FD&C Blue 1

A water-soluble aluminum lake, this ingredient is used for its blue dye coloring. The product is also packaged in a blue container so consumers cannot see inside the product but this will give a subtle blue coloring to the surfactant gel, which could be disguising any colored essential oils inside the formula.

In-use Testing

As noted, the product is a clear, semi-viscous gel that dispenses through a hole in a cap. The packaging is quite durable and strong and because of this, it is a little difficult to dispense the product–consumers have to press quite firmly on the bottle to squeeze the product out. I was surprised this product contained blue dye because the gel was completely clear and transparent, leaving no color at all on the sponge or on my hand.

A small amount of this shower concentrate goes a long way. The product transforms into a rich, dense foam that appears instantly upon lathering. Because the formula is concentrated, a small drop of product is enough to clean the majority of the body in the shower, especially when using a sponge, too.

Once the product begins to foam, the powerful aromas of the essential oils fill the room. In fact, after showering, my whole flat smelled beautiful! I have tried a few different Clarins products and all of them smell incredible. They are powerfully fragranced, which some may find overbearing, but personally, I love them.

The essential oils in this product made me feel relaxed but clean and refreshed at the same time. It was a relaxing experience and the fragrance notes reminded me of being in a spa.

The product cleaned thoroughly without leaving my skin feeling tight and stripped. Once my skin dried, it felt soft to touch, smooth and the fragrance stayed on my skin for hours. I did not try this product in the bath but I imagine the fragrance would similarly fill the room for a relaxing experience. 

Users can buy this bath/shower concentrate online or in Clarins's concessions for £21 for 200 mL ($29 for 6.8 fl. oz.).

Source: Clarins

Disclaimer: This article was produced in the UK and therefore the INCI listing and INCI names comply with European labeling requirements.

More in Bath/Shower