It’s been a long day.
All you want is to pour yourself a glass of wine and curl up in a nice hot tub.
Better yet, you want to drop a bath bomb in that warm water and immerse yourself in luxury.
Bath bombs have been growing in popularity in recent years, promising everything from aromatherapy benefits to skin-soothing properties in a burst of fizz and color.
But, there’s a catch.
Some of those bath bombs you’ve come to adore may be releasing a lot more than just colored fizz into that soothing water.
ConsumerSafety.org, a consumer advocacy group that keeps the public aware of recalls and health and safety concerns, recently launched an investigation into the components of those bath bombs you’ve come to love.
And what they found might surprise you.
“People are using these toxic products on a daily basis, unknowingly exposing themselves and loved ones to harmful ingredients,” Sydney Ziverts, a health and nutrition investigator who initially compiled the bath bomb research for ConsumerSafety, told Healthline.
What’s in a bath bomb?
To begin with, many bath bombs have the term “fragrance” listed as an ingredient.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t require companies to further break down what chemicals they use to add “fragrance” to their products.
“The Food and Drug Administration gives companies a labeling loophole for fragrances to protect a company’s proprietary perfume blend,” said Ziverts. “Therefore, companies don't legally have to disclose any toxic ingredients lingering in their fragrance blends.”
Some popular fragrance additives are chemicals that have actually made the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hazardous waste list.
Benzene derivatives, for instance, are a human carcinogen linked to hormone disruption and reproductive malformation.
Aldehydes present an increased risk of respiratory allergies, liver disease, and embryo toxicity.
And phthalates have been found to decrease hormone levels and sperm quality as well as being linked to obesity, ovarian aging, and some forms of cancer.
Then there’s talc, which has been associated with an elevated risk of ovarian cancer.
Parabens are known to disrupt the endocrine system.
And artificial dyes (specifically D&C Red 33) have been linked to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children as well as neuron damage and brain cancer.
The debate over safety
Officials at Lush Cosmetics, one of the more popular distributors of bath bombs, insist their products are safe.
Meghan Campbell, Lush’s brand and product trainer, went over safety issues ingredient by ingredient.
“The bright array of eye-catching colors are all derived from vegetarian food, drug, and cosmetics safe colors [FD&C], or drug and cosmetics safe colors [D&C],” she told Healthline. “The glitter is plastic-free, and even the safe synthetic that provides the famous fizz [baking soda] can be found in most kitchens. Beyond that, Lush adds lovely effective ingredients like sea salt, cocoa butter, and essential oil-based fragrance blends, bespoke to each and every hand-pressed bath bomb.”
She said customer safety and satisfaction is their top priority.
“Lush would never put an ingredient in a bath bomb that we’d want people to steer clear of,” Campbell said. “We want you in the tub, not running from it.”
However, Ziverts found Lush’s explanation somewhat lacking.
“Very interesting given the ingredients listed on their page(s),” she said in an email to Healthline. “Specifically related to Lush, I wanted to show you this. Although it’s a bubble ‘mold’ and not a bath bomb, you’ll notice the first ingredient listed is talc, which has a direct correlation to ovarian cancer.”
There are alternatives to bath bombs, such as the ones here listed on the blog a beautiful whim.
For a fragrance fix use scented candles or incense. You’ll still get that calming aroma without steeping yourself in unknown chemicals — and the soft light will set the mood for relaxing.
If bubbles are your thing, and you don’t want to spring for a jacuzzi, you can find natural recipes for making bubble bath all over the internet. Here’s one from DIY Natural.
Is it the eye-popping color that you crave? There are much safer options to consider than dipping yourself in dyes. Look for submersible LED lights that can illuminate your bath from below.
If you don’t want to relinquish your bath bombs, at least seek out talc-free options, and products scented with recognizable ingredients rather than “fragrances.”
In addition, there’s always the option of making your own bath bombs.
That way you control the ingredients list, and you know exactly what you’re soaking in.