There’s no denying a bath fizzy can take your relaxation to a whole new level, but are bath bombs safe? These “bombs” contain complex colorings and fragrances that fizz and dissolve to create (an often glittery) psychedelic-like rainbow in your bathwater. Many bath bombs even contain nourishing natural oils to moisturize your skin.
But while bath time has the ability to serve as an important stress reliever, I tend to actually feel anxious when I read the ingredient lists of most fizzies on the market. From hormone-disrupting chemicals to possible disease-triggering dyes infiltrating your mucous membranes, the standard bath bomb is not something I’d ever use. Make sure your bath bomb-loving friends know about these risks…
Are Bath Bombs Safe? Here Are the Top Bath Bomb Threats
Totally Toxic Fake Fragrances
“Fragrance” is an innocent enough-sounding ingredient. But the truth is, synthetic scents are one of the most toxic ingredients in bath products. Let’s start with this fact: A National Academy of Sciences points out some vital facts: About 95 percent of chemicals used in synthetic fragrances are derived from petroleum (crude oil). (1)Many are known or suspected endocrine disruptors, including phthalates and other chemicals that trigger hormonal mayhem and increase your risk of diseases like infertility, breast cancer, type 2 diabetes and more. The time between exposure and disease symptoms can be decades apart. Exposure is especially dangerous for babies and young children, along with babies developing inside a pregnant woman’s womb. (2, 3)
Watch out for ingredients like “fragrance,” “fragrance oils,” “fragrance oil blend” or similar ones. These are legal catch-all terms for any combination of about 3,000 toxic fragrance ingredients that won’t appear on the label. Fragrance mixtures have been linked to cancer, neurotoxicity, allergens, respiratory irritants and environmental toxicants. Acetaldehyde, one common fragrance compound, is potentially carcinogenic to humans and adversely impacts the kidneys, nervous system and respiratory system. (4)
Food Dyes Entering Your Bloodstream
Fake food dyes aren’t just a risk in foods. A breakthrough 2013 Slovenian study found that your skin can actually absorb these toxic dyes, particularly through recently shaven skin and the mucous membranes. From there, the dyes are absorbed directly into your bloodstream, instead of being broken down in the gut or detoxed through the liver. (5)
Common dyes used in bath bombs have been shown to cause allergy-like reactions and symptoms of ADHD in children. Some are contaminated with cancer-causing substances, while other test tube and animal studies link certain popular food dyes to neuron damage and a higher risk of brain cancer. Certain yellow dyes may even increase the risk of adrenal and kidney cancers. These are NOT risks I’m willing to take just for the sake of a fizzy bath. (6)
Urinary Tract Infections
Could you bath bomb leave you looking up home remedies for a UTI? It’s clear that showers are better than baths when it comes to preventing UTI symptoms and infections. (7) But did you know common skin allergens and other ingredients in bubble baths and bath bombs that come in contact with the genital area can actually trigger UTI infections (8)
Many bath bombs also contain glitter, tiny pieces of plastic that won’t biodegrade once they wash down your drain. That’s not just trouble for wildlife. Small bits of plastic glitter aren’t things I’d want near my mucous membranes.
Chemical fragrances that fall under the “fragrance” term on the ingredients list can also disrupt the vagina’s natural pH balance, increasing the risk of vaginal yeast infections. (9)
Are Bath Bombs Safe if They Contain Natural Boric Acid?
Some store-bought and homemade bath bomb recipes call for boric acid. While this inorganic acid is sometimes beneficial in dealing with vaginal yeast infections and athlete’s foot due to its strong anti-fungal properties, it does have a downside. The European Commission on Endocrine Disruption found strong evidence that boric acid acts as a hormone disruptor in humans. It’s banned for use in cosmetics in Japan and Canada. (10) In fact, the Canadian government even recommends avoiding the use of boric acid in pest control and in arts and crafts, including using it to make homemade slime and modeling clay. Canadian health officials say overexposure to boric acid has the potential to cause developmental and reproductive health effects. (11)
Final Thoughts on the Question, ‘Are Bath Bombs Safe?’
- Common bath bomb fragrance ingredients are synthetic and can cause hormone disruption and increase your risk of diseases like type 2 diabetes, breast cancer and infertility, among other ailments.
- Popular bath fizzy ingredients are linked to ailments like asthma, eczema, ADHD, cancer and other diseases.
- Food dyes common in bath bombs can be absorbed through broken, irritated or recently shaved skin. From there, it goes straight into your bloodstream. Some food dyes are linked to cancer, ADHD, allergic reactions and more.
- Common bath bomb ingredients are linked to urinary tract and vaginal yeast infections.
- Glitter used in store-bought and homemade bath bombs can pollute water once they wash down the drain.
- Boric acid is sometimes used in DIY bath bomb recipes and in store-bought versions. I would avoid it because there’s strong evidence it acts like a hormone disruptor in humans. It’s banned for use in cosmetics in Canada and Japan.