They’re colorful. They’re fizzy. They smell like a party in a tub. So how can bath bombs possibly cause problems?
While the thought of soaking in a warm tub with a dissolved bath bomb gives you a fuzzy feeling, doing it could actually leave you feeling less than ideal, whether you grab them from Bath & Body Works or a boutique shop. The scents of flowers, herbs, birthday cake, or even your favorite candy? Those come from essential oils or synthetic fragrances that could trigger an allergic reaction. “The Food and Drug Administration gives companies a labeling loophole for fragrances to protect a company’s proprietary perfume blend…[so] companies don’t legally have to disclose any toxic ingredients lingering in their fragrance blend,” Sydney Ziverts, a health and nutrition expert who did ConsumerSafety’s initial research on bath bombs, tells Healthline.
The site also lists fragrances that have made the Environmental Protection Agency’s dangerous list, which includes benzene derivatives, which are carcinogens; aldehydes, which can increase the risk of inhaled allergies and liver disease; as well as phthalates, which can decrease hormone levels, and have also been linked to some forms of cancer.
Nothing about a bath bomb is good for your skin
Cleveland Clinic dermatologist Alok Vij says the bombs, whose main ingredients are baking soda and citric acid, also contain other ingredients that aren’t great for your skin. These include the dyes and additives like sparkles which make the water look inviting, as well as the preservatives that keep the bath bomb from going stale. “Don’t be fooled by ‘natural ingredients’ [because] they can also play mischief with your skin,” he said. “For example, common bath bomb ingredients include witch hazel, an astringent that can cause dryness, or cocoa butter, which can fuel the growth of yeast.” And we all know the last thing we need is a yeast infection.
Vij says those of us with sensitive skin are better off giving bath bombs a hard pass. But if you don’t suffer from sensitivities such as eczema and if you don’t have a reaction to scents or dyes, a bath bomb every now and then may do no harm… there is a caveat, however. “I recommend staying in the water just until fingers and toes start to prune up,” Vij says. “That’s different for everyone, but usually 10 to 15 minutes is enough time. Also, don’t forget to shower with soap after a soak. If you don’t have a reaction to chemicals and dyes, chances are you’ll develop one if you don’t rinse off properly.”
So, while it can be hard to say what ingredients you should avoid — since so many ingredients just aren’t all that great for you no matter what — it’s best to just use a bath bomb every now and then, as with most things in life, moderation is key.
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