The smell of eucalyptus makes everyone feel like they've stumbled back into the steam room of their favorite gym, but the wonder tree from down under boasts more than a refreshing aroma. In fact, eucalyptus oil is an anti-inflammatory and an antiseptic, as well as a common ingredient in decongestants like Vicks VapoRub and old-fashioned liniments. The question isn't whether or not to make this panacea a part of your arsenal, but how to deploy it.

The new Eucalyptus Body Wash from Malin+Goetz provides a surprising – and surprisingly militant – answer: Pursue air power while maintaining ground forces.

Blast the hot water, close the bathroom door, and let the shower steam up so much that you can't see in front of you (about four minutes). Slowly lower the water temperature until it's at a comfortable level and step into the stream with a washcloth or loofah brush at the ready. Squeeze a coin-sized dollop onto the washcloth or loofah and start scrubbing away dead skin. While you're doing this, concentrate on your breathing: Inhale the minty fumes so the cineole in the oil can blast away at mucus, liberating your lungs from the iron fist of cold air.

In addition, the glycerin in Eucalyptus fights dryness and mitigates the ravages of psoriasis, dermatitis, and eczema, making the wash a particularly potent weapon in the drier cold weather months, when many of these conditions are exacerbated. The gel's aftermath is also a perk: When the steam clears and you step out of the shower, the whole bathroom will smell great. [$18, malinandgoetz.com]