What Ingredients In Bath Bombs Are Dangerous?

Beautiful photos of bath bombs have been splashed across Instagram and Pinterest for years, turning what used to be a simple soak into a psychedelic scent festival.  While it may seem like a princess’s dream to bathe in melted rainbows, ingredients in popular bath bombs are more in line with something Gargamel would have dumped in his cauldron.  Read on, you’ll be shocked by the dangerous ingredients you could find in your beautiful and luxurious bath bombs.


Here are just a few of the ingredients that can be found in commercial bath bombs that are dangerous:

Toxic ingredients bath bombs

  • Fragrances — ​Terms like “fragrance,” “fragrance oils,” or “fragrance oil blend” are frequently used in products, but did you know that the FDA doesn’t require companies to disclose the chemicals used in them?  Below are a few of the many possible chemicals that may make up a portion of “fragrance” in bath bombs.  Some “fragrance” components have been listed on the EPA’s hazardous waste list.

Benzene derivatives

Dangers : Human carcinogen, hormone disruption, reproductive malformation, lower         immune response.


Dangers : Respiratory allergies, liver disease, embryo toxicity, diabetes/hypertension, sclerosing peritonitis, cerebral ischemia/neurodegenerative diseases, and other aging-associated diseases


Dangers : Decreased hormone levels, low sperm quality, obesity, ovarian aging, can lead to cancer

  • Talc — Although this ingredient isn’t extremely popular in bath bombs, it’s been found in a few products of a well-known brand.  If you haven’t seen the news yet, talc has been associated with an elevated risk of ovarian cancer, so it’s not the sort of thing you’ll want to marinate in.

Dangers : Linked to a higher risk of ovarian cancer.  You can read more about talc and ovarian cancer here.

  • Glitter — Most bath bombs contain glitter or a vegetable oil based lustre.

Dangers : Since glitter is formed from small pieces of plastic, once it runs down the drain, it’ll never biodegrade.  And remember, glitter and lustres don’t belong in the sensitive, pH balanced vagina.  It can cause inflammation and infections such as UTI’s and yeast infections.

If that’s not bad enough, maybe this is?  When my sister was a toddler, she got a speck of glitter in her eye.  No one knew for weeks.  It resulted in an infection of her cornea.  Her eyesight is okay today but the innocent speck of glitter could have resulted in a complete loss of eyesight.  Fortunately, our parents realized something was wrong and took her to a specialist (Actually, several before the problem was diagnosed).  Glitter, eyes, baths, babies – seriously, not good combinations.

  • Artificial Dyes — Even the beautiful swirls of synthetic and artificial color are known for causing an array of ill health effects.  D&C Red 33 : A dye derived from petroleum or coal tar (a known human carcinogen).

Dangers : Allergy-like reactions, ADHD in children, and some have even been linked to neuron damage and brain cancer.

  • Parabens — Preservative ingredients that extend shelf life of the products.

Dangers: Known to disrupt endocrine system and can lead to early puberty.  They can trigger allergic reactions in the skin which leads to quick exposure to the body, especially if you’re soaking in the bath.  Certain parabens have been associated with breast cancer.

What are some safer alternatives to bath bombs?

Clean bath water

Don’t get me wrong, we all need a luxurious bath from time to time.  If you’re a bath fanatic who needs more than just hot water to feel pampered, here are some simple and smart solutions:

  • For a fragrance fix that doesn’t turn you into a human teabag, use scented candles or incense. You’ll still get that calming aroma without steeping yourself in unknown chemicals—and the soft light will set a relaxing mood.
  • If bubbles are your thing, and you don’t want to spring for a jacuzzi, you can find natural recipes for making bubble bath all over the internet.  Here’s one from DIY Natural.
  • Is it the eye-popping color that your crave?  There are much safer options to consider than bathing in dyes.  Look for submersible LED lights that can illuminate your bath from below.  Here are some examples from 100candles.com.  You can choose whether the lights flicker or not and some have a remote control and change colors.

dangerous ingredients bath bombs

If you refuse to relinquish your bath bomb addiction, at least seek out talc-free options and products scented with recognizable ingredients rather than “fragrances.”  If you’re the DIY type, you can try making your own your own safe bath bombs!

A special thank you to Kayla Mackie at ConsumerSafety.Org for this guest post.  About the author, Kayla Mackie:

As the Product Safety Investigator for ConsumerSafety.org, Kayla draws on her passion for asking questions and diving into research. She provides consumers with the information they need to make smart choices about they products they surround themselves with.

Phoenix Beauty Blog LifeStyle Blog


23 thoughts on “What Ingredients In Bath Bombs Are Dangerous?

  1. I make my own bath bombs [and bubble bars] as well. They turn out fabulous and are also free from the ‘junk’. I use my own lavender and rose petals in some of them which adds to the ‘pretty’ factor. The bubble bars are a bit of a pain but totally worth it in the long run. I’ve mastered some of my favorite lush fragrances combining high grade quality essential oils, for the moisture and skin aspect, I’ve used coconut, argan, sweet almond oil, aloe and even combined some. so fun! Great post! xx

      1. I totally need to do a blog post on them; post my recipes and show off some of my finished products…but I will gather them today and post them here on a reply to you! The bubble bars take a bit to find your method of forming them best, but they turn out so fabulous that it’s totally worth it. (I can send you photos of mine if you like, and include the recipes I use with some great tips!) xx

  2. Bath bombs are not my thing but this post is very informative. I sometimes fill teabag with dried lavender & chammomile flowers and put it in my tub with hot water (teabag & everything inside can go to compost & those herbs are soothing & not toxic)

    1. I can’t even imagine bathing in something that was on a harzardous waste list. Fragrance could be in many skin care products and have some of those dangerous ingredients though. It seriously freaked me out. The herbs sound beautiful! That’s a really good idea!

  3. Great post Janine and very informative! I must admit I love looking at other people’s luxurious bath bomb photos on Instagram and Pinterest and do get tempted. I have purchased some of these products from Lush in the past and I agree, we need to be aware of what goes into these products and what ultimately ends up on and in our bodies. Thank you for sharing this post!

    ~ Cat L.

    1. I purchase quite a bit from Lush too but last year my tub was coated in glitter after I drained it and it really freaked me out. I’ve been afraid of glitter after my sister got an infection from it. I gave up bath bombs after the glitter incident. I also had a tub full of seaweed once from a bathroom and I didn’t enjoy cleaning that one up either. Glad you enjoyed the post.

  4. This is why I never buy bath bombs. You don’t want it wrecking your female parts PH either. Great post. xo

  5. The glitter is what gets me. I’ve commented on it before about LUSH bath bombs… why are bits of sharp plastic ok to include in a bath bomb?!!
    Dyes don’t sound good either.
    Haha I like this sentence “for a fragrance fix that doesn’t turn you into a human teabag” XD
    Great guest post. 🙂

    1. I don’t know! One day, I drained my tub and noticed the glitter and I was not happy about it. I don’t know if all glitter is plastic today. 30 years ago, when my sister got it in her eye, it was some metallic product (or maybe just the paint?) but it rusted in her eye. OMG! It was a horrible. experience.

    1. Thank you. It’s a guest post (which I rarely publish) but this one had exceptional information that I really wanted to share. I’m scared to look in my own cupboard now, Honestly.

      1. This is a terrific discussion. Does anyone have suggestions for DIY recipes that don’t contain the nasty stuff? I’m wondering if there are really any out there that are truly safe to soak in.

        1. There are a couple of links I included at the bottom of the page with some DIY recipes that don’t contain any dangerous ingredients. I like the simple DIY recipes on Sheknows.com. The ingredients are all very safe….

          1 cup baking soda
          1/2 cup cornstarch
          1/2 cup epsom salts
          4 tablespoons cream of tartar
          2-1/2 tablespoons oil (I used coconut)
          2 teaspoons essential oil (lavender, jasmine, whatever you like!)
          Food coloring
          3/4 tablespoon water

          The food coloring could be skipped.

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