There are few things in life better than settling into a bath with a good book, a glass of wine, and of course, a bath bomb. But when news broke last month that a bath bomb sent a girl to the hospital, it had us all wondering: Are bath bombs really safe?
Here's what happened: As Cosmopolitan UK first reported, a 10-year-old girl was rushed to the ER when a meningitis-like rash developed all over her body five days after she used a passionfruit and watermelon bath bomb from a local discount store called Wilko's. The doctors figured out that the rash popped up as a result of some of the ingredients in the bath bomb, which rightfully freaked everyone out, especially because according to a statement from Wilko's, the product passed all of the necessary safety testing before it was put on the market.
So should the rest of us run home toss our beloved bath bombs in the trash, stat? Not so fast, says LUSH Cosmetics' Brand and Products Trainer Erica Vega. "LUSH would never put an ingredient in a bath bomb that we’d want people to steer clear of," says Vega. "We want you in the tub, not running from it!"
To avoid any unwanted hospital visits during bath time, here are Vega's tips for how to safely select and use bath bombs (with some really, really pretty bath bomb explosion photos to go along with them).
1. Read Up On The Ingredients
It's important to familiarize yourself with the core ingredients of bath bombs in order to understand how they work. The fizzing action comes from a very basic combination of baking soda and citric acid (the stuff that makes sour candies sour), which fizz when they come in contact with water — hence the "explosion" experience you get with a bath bomb. Beyond those two main ingredients, Vega acknowledges that you'll probably also find ingredients like sea salt, cocoa butter, and essential oil-based fragrance blends, as well as . some safe synthetics like food-grade coloring or a synthetic perfuming element. Do yourself a favor and always read the back of the package, and if you don't recognize an ingredient (or if it sounds super chemical-y) Google it. Better safe than sorry!
2. Watch Out For The Slip Factor
In addition to being aware of the ingredients in your bath bombs, it's important that you also keep in mind that they can make your bath tub really, really slippery, which can be dangerous when you're trying to get in and out of it. "Oils and butters in the tub may leave some residue," says Vega. "Starting with a nice clean tub will help to minimize residue, as the oils will stick to dirt and grime on the tub’s surface." Vega suggests using any sort of buttery bath product with warm or hot water because it helps melt the oils so they can rinse away. If that's not your thing, stick to a bomb that doesn’t contain oils and butters and you’re good to go.
3. Know Your Own Allergies
Just like with any beauty product, it's important to know if there are any ingredients you're allergic to before submerging yourself into a bathtub that could end up deadly. "If you have a specific allergy, always read the ingredient list to check for your personal allergens," says Vega. Once again, reading the packaging #FTW.
4. Steer Clear If You Have Super Sensitive Skin
Bath bombs were originally created for people whose skin is too sensitive for traditional bath products, and according to Vega many people who can't use other bubble bath are perfectly happy with bath bombs. "But, there will be those who simply cannot take a bath with anything at all because of extreme skin sensitivity or propensity for urinary tract infections," says Vega. Luckily, showering can be really fun too!
5. Keep It All Natural
When it comes to bath bombs, natural is best. Look for simple, natural ingredients, mineral-based glitters, food-grade colors. "They’re a simple yet effective recipe for fun and relaxation" says Vega. My advice is to read those labels! You’ll be impressed with some brands (ahem, Lush) and unpleasantly aware with other brands." Bottom line: Always, always know what's in the tub you're getting into, and chances are you'll be safe.