What fizzes and swirls and dissolves into a fragrant show of glitter in your tub? The beloved bath bomb, of course. From the celestial to the romantic and whimsical, the polychromatic and whirling foam sent me swooning to the depths of fondness. Ours was a fast and steamy love affair; I was dropping one in my bath every night.
With scent-drenched combinations ranging from vanilla and orange to lavender and patchouli (oftentimes with an occasional dash of “I have no idea what this mystery scent is, but – holy sh*t – it’s amazing), I was intoxicated from the first splash. It was liked being rocked to sleep by an explosion of Skittles.
I told all of my best girlfriends and even slipped them into their birthday gift bags and Christmas stockings. I published articles in praise of my favorite varieties. I was a bath bomb connoisseur and enthusiast for sure.
I never dared to believe they could be harmful. But when Kayla Mackie of ConsumerSafety.org kindly reached out to me with her impressive research, she propelled me to crawl down a rabbit hole of my own. And, I feel obliged to inform you: the ingredients lurking in the majority of bath bombs are nothing to laugh away carelessly. After you read what I’m about to reveal, you might decide it’s time to sever ties with a few of your favorites. I did.
Do We Really Have to Break Up With Our Bath Bombs?
Listen, I realize you idolize your bath bombs (so did I), but I have a truth bomb coming in for a landing. And it may corrupt all of the fizzy, foamy and frothy indulgence as you know it. The good news is I won’t be leaving you high, dry and without any bath time delectations of equal or greater value. So, don’t freak out just yet.
In this piece, I am offering up an overflow of well-researched information. I slid on my journalist hat and poured over all of the findings that the ever-so-savvy and impassioned Kayla Mackie brought to me. And, I conducted all of the experimentation so that you don’t have to.
Bath-Loving Babes, Have We Been Soaking in a Concoction of Toxins?
Now I realize we must not fall prey to believing everything we read on the internet. Trust me; I’m smacked with flagrant allegations and unfounded hearsay almost daily; it comes with the territory of the profession I chose. But, my darlings, the following information is the cold truth – as cold as a bath that sits too long. Millions of women are marinating in harmful gunk on a frequent basis. So, let us get real about what we are bathing in.
Glitter: The majority of bath bombs glitter, shimmer and sparkle like an explosion of stars in your tub. It’s splendid. But once the glitter spirals down the drain, it does not biodegrade. Why is this? Because glitter is composed of tiny pieces of plastic. Fortunately, for our blessed Mother Nature, popular brands have transitioned to a vegetable-based luster. However, many knock-off brands still contain plastic. It’s uncool. It’s bad for the environment and unkind to your hard-working vagina (who prefers to be protected from sharp-edged interferences, thank you).
Talc: Although this ingredient isn’t present in all bath bomb formulations, it’s in a few products of a well-known brand. Mackie chatted with ConsumerSafety.org’s Health & Nutrition Investigator, Sydney Ziverts, who devotes her entire livelihood to keeping consumers out of harm’s way. She is passionate in her stance: “Talc is extremely dangerous in a bath bomb or any bath product you soak in, due to it’s connection to ovarian cancer,” says Ziverts.
One of the most unwise moves a smart female can make is to soak her precious nether-regions in a talc-based product. In fact, thousands of affected women have been filing talcum powder lawsuits.
Fragrances: Anytime you see “fragrance” listed in a beauty product (especially one you immerse your entire body in), it’s a giant red flag waving high. Be sure to read for ingredients listed as “fragrance oils,” “fragrance oil blend” or anything in that realm. Some of these companies are being enabled by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), which gives companies an alternative route for labeling regulations with fragrances (in order to protect their proprietary perfume blends).
Below is a compilation of the most prevalent chemicals that often make up the “fragrance” portion of a bath bomb. (Can you believe some “fragrance” components are listed on the EPA’s hazardous waste list? Gag.)
Potential Dangers: Human carcinogen, hormone disruption, reproductive malformation, reduced immune response
Potential Dangers: Respiratory allergies, liver disease, embryo toxicity, diabetes/hypertension, sclerosing peritonitis, cerebral ischemia/neurodegenerative diseases, and other age-accelerating diseases
Potential Dangers: Decreased hormone levels, low sperm quality, obesity, ovarian aging, carcinogenic
Further Dangers That Can Manifest Down Below
The above list is not complete, but should provide you with an idea of what has been lurking in your come-hither foams, fizzes, froths and soaks. Remember my mention of glitter being detrimental for the pH-balanced vagina? Ouch. Well, so are all of the other toxic ingredients.
If you’ve ever had a urinary tract infection, you know how bee-stinging miserable it can be. If you’re spending half an hour in the tub, soaking in all of the synthetic perfumes and chemicals (not to mention the sweat and dirt from your body) you are irritating your urethra and, thus, may be cursed with a UTI.
And what about those awful, flaming yeast infections? Artificially fragranced blends, such as the beloved “vanilla-lavender-with-a-dash-of-mystery,” can potentially disrupt the vagina’s natural pH balance – causing irritation, inflammation and cranky yeast invasions. Your blessed peach works so hard to remain in balance; let us be kind to her.
The Better News About Bath-taking
Extra! Extra! Read all about it! The better news is that you have full reign to make your bath time one of the healthiest parts of your day. It is a sublime way to detoxify, support your adrenals and infuse your body with the minerals it needs for everything from healthy digestion and skin to hydrated fascia and joints. Truly, a bath can be restorative to not only your mental state, but also supportive of your beauty, fitness and wellness goals.
Healthy & Happy Bath-Boosting Ideas
Now, my fellow bath-loving friends, we have finally arrived to the fun part. This is where you are permitted to spread your bath-obsessed wings and let your goddess of indulgence radiate creatively and unabashedly. Below are ideas meant to serve as a few incitations and inspirations:
If it is the eye-catching and prismatic display of colors you crave, I get it. There are alternatives far safer than dipping your flesh in artificial dyes, however. Try submersible LED lights that will illuminate your bath from down below, per Mackie’s suggestion. It is on my list of products to try.
If it’s the dreamy aroma that seduces you, try placing an essential oil diffuser near the tub. This is one of my favorite ways to amplify any act of pampering. Lavender essential oil reduces anxiety, Nutmeg is therapeutic to the adrenal gland, peppermint has been shown to increase mental clarity and ylang ylang promotes sensuality and relaxation, all the while taking bath-recharging experience to an even healthier realm.
And, you could light up a scrumptious candle. Pure integrity candles are by far one of the most superior brands amongst the non-toxic options available. They smell heavenly (The Pumpkin Pie variety smells like an actual heavenly Pumpkin Pie is baking in your kitchen; drooling may ensue.) and are 100 percent phthalate– and petroleum-free.
Lastly, if you absolutely must dip into a dance of sensorial deliciousness in your bathtub, do it cautiously and only on occasion when using bath bombs. If you have the need to lean into the tub with a glass of wine and channel your inner Aphrodite, chromatic foam surrounding your flesh, just don’t soak too often or for too long. Avoid the glitter and look for varieties that are scented with non-synthetic ingredients.