How safe are bath bombs?
We have all seen the daintily packaged bath bombs and immediately imagined a quiet, relaxing spa experience. You know what I’m talking about...candles lit, white towels awaiting you with rose petals adorning the top, no kids trying to get you to help them find a shoe, and no cat making a horrible banging sound trying to open the door to get in. Oh wait, is that last one only at my house?
You’re not crazy if it seems like bath bombs are everywhere these days. They’re becoming more and more popular and you can find them everywhere. Tired, over-stressed moms like me love the relaxing experience of the scent, the fizzing that occurs when it hits the water, and the feeling of being pampered.
That very sentiment of pampering, accompanied by the bath bomb's size and cute packaging, make them a popular stocking-stuffer gifts during the Christmas season. Before you head out to the neighborhood Target and pick some up, however, you should know that health experts are beginning to suggest that many of these little packages of bliss are not actually a safe choice.
(Stick around until the end for a safe recipe you can make yourself...or better yet, put your kids to work making them! They owe you, after all.)
How are bath bombs dangerous?
If you’ve ever taken the time to read the labels on the bath bomb options that are available in your local stores, you’ll quickly realize that just reading the list of ingredients can easily last longer than the bathtub fizzing. Dig deeper into the 15 letter words you see and you’ll find that the balls contain several harmful ingredients that combine to pose serious health risks.
Here are just some of the toxic ingredients and the issues they can cause.
Often disguised under the simple, benign, little word, "fragrance", synthetic scents are commonly made of highly toxic substances like crude oil. Yes, I said CRUDE OIL! According to Science Corps., coming into direct contact with crude oil causes skin damage and, with prolonged or repeat exposure, can cause long term side effects, like damage to your liver, immune system, and can even cause cancer. Kids are most susceptible to the effects (I’m having a major mother-of-the-year moment here) and pregnant women are advised to avoid all contact because their unborn babies are extremely sensitive to even minute amounts. (amfs.com)
As if this wasn’t enough, manufactured fragrances contain phthalates, which often serve as a “plasticizer” in industrial manufacturing. In studies, simple dermal contact with phthalates has been found to disrupt the human endocrine system, leading to hormonal imbalance and reduced fertility in both men and women. Because they also affect your thyroid, exposure can also make it harder to lose weight.
As if the fragrance risks weren’t reason enough to reconsider using inorganic bath products, the dyes used pile on even more reasons. Wait...using dyes that are safe to eat should be fine on the skin right? Well, researchers say no.
According to recent studies, the skin (especially right after a shave) absorbs the dye in high quantities and introduces the toxins directly into the bloodstream. Without the benefit of our digestive processes, the chemicals are not broken down in our gut and detoxified by the liver like they are when they are eaten. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278691512007727)
In the short-term, negative effects of dermal contact with synthetic dyes can include allergic reactions, a propensity for hyperactivity (sounds nice some days!), and increased acne (dyes are highly comedogenic). Long-term risks escalate to thyroid and kidney tumors.
DIY Bath Bomb Recipe
If you want to enjoy the fizz and comfort of a bomb bath without using any artificial dyes and disruptive chemicals, you can go for some homemade recipes using natural ingredients. Go for vegan products and avoid using artificial scents or food colorings; and, for heaven’s sake, stop using the non-organic bath bombs available in the markets.
To remove the bath bomb from the mold, warm the sides of the mold or tin with your hands (this will help melt the coconut oil) and turn upside down until the mixture slides out.
Your bath bomb is ready to use: plan to add to your bath and soak for 20 - 30 minutes.
Fair warning about DIY bath bomb recipes with boric acid
Those who are aware of the potential harms caused by bath bombs often prefer to go for homemade bath bombs. Many DIY recipes contain boric acid, touting the acid to have powerful anti-fungal properties that help to prevent athlete’s foot and vaginal yeast infections. The trade off to these short term benefits, however, is that this compound is known to be a hormone disruptor that can cause multiple issues. According to some health professionals, excessive use of boric acid can damage the reproductive system and affect normal body development. Simply put, skip the boric acid when making your own, safe bath bombs.
The bath bombs contain several such ingredients that are linked to multiple diseases and undesirable health conditions. The food dyes and artificial fragrances apparently look and feel amazing, but the risks associated include impacting your overall health.
Bottom line, either avoid using bath bombs or stick organic and homemade recipes.