Locations:
Search IconSearch

Is Marinating in the Tub With a Bath Bomb Safe for Your Skin?

Weighing the delight (or havoc) for your skin

Woman holding a bath bomb

Bath bombs — those fizzy, scented “party in a bath” additives — are a huge hit, especially with kids. You can buy them everywhere, from dollar stores to high-end department stores. And kids are scouring YouTube for videos on how to make bath bombs. (Because DIY slime is sooo last month.)

Advertisement

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

Bath bombs may be fun for kids and adults alike. But is soaking in a tub that’s been “bombed” safe for your skin?

What’s in a bath bomb?

According to dermatologist Alok Vij, MD, bath bombs are made using a combination of baking soda and citric acid. When mixed with water, those ingredients generally neutralize each other. But bath bombs may contain other substances that can potentially harm your skin, including:

  • Fragrances, either synthetic or from essential oils that give you that I’m-in-Fiji feel.
  • Dyes, whether natural or lab-made, that turn your bath (and tub) another shade.
  • Preservatives, to keep the bombs shelf-stable for longer (hardly necessary when they’re flying off the shelves).
  • Additives like glitter, which may glam your bath, but could be abrasive to the skin.
There aren’t any bath bombs that are totally safe, particularly for people with sensitive skin. Sadly, the size of the bath bomb doesn’t really matter — smaller bombs can have concentrated amounts of potential allergens.

Signs your bath bomb has waged war on your skin

Not all skin is created equal. For some people, a bath bomb is a sensual delight. For others, it’s a recipe for discomfort. The most common signs that your bath bomb is wreaking havoc on your skin include:

  • Redness.
  • Itching.
  • Scaling.

Advertisement

These telltale signs often first show up in skin creases (think behind the knees, or in the groin area) where the harmful substances linger because of the skin-on-skin contact. But for people with known skin sensitivity, these signs may declare themselves on any part of the skin that was submerged in bath water.

“Don’t be fooled by ‘natural ingredients.’ They can also play mischief with your skin,” says Dr. Vij. “For example, common bath bomb ingredients include witch hazel, an astringent that can cause dryness, or cocoa butter, which can fuel the growth of yeast.”

Sometimes, bath additives such as bath bombs and even bubble bath can affect the body’s pH balance. For women and girls, changing the pH of the vagina and surrounding areas can alter bacterial flora and possibly lead to irritation or, worse, a yeast infection. (A not-fun price to pay for a few minutes of fizzy bath glory.)

Let your skin be the guide on how to safely use a bath bomb

Dr. Vij suggests those who are allergic to ingredients in bath bombs avoid them altogether. “However, if people don’t have a history of atopic dermatitis (commonly called eczema) or a known history of sensitivity to fragrances or dyes — the occasional bath bomb is fine. But I recommend staying in the water just until fingers and toes start to prune up,” says Dr. Vij. “That’s different for everyone, but usually 10 to 15 minutes is enough time.”

And rinse off after the bath to remove the residual chemical layer.

“The longer you’re exposed to chemicals and known allergens, the more likely you are to develop an allergy,” says Dr. Vij. “My daughters love bath bombs, but I remind them to take a nice rinse to clean off their skin and keep it healthy after they’ve soaked.”

Learn more about our editorial process.

Related Articles

Person in towel standing in bathroom, with milk pticher on edge of bathtub
June 13, 2024/Skin Care & Beauty
Take the Plunge: 4 Reasons To Try a Milk Bath

Adding a little milk to your bath can leave your skin smooth, silky and refreshed

Older person applying skin cream to their face
June 7, 2024/Skin Care & Beauty
Benefits of Ferulic Acid as Part of Your Skin Care Routine

Ferulic acid can help make other antioxidant products more powerful

Smiling person under sunny blue sky, holding tube of sunscreen, applying to face
May 24, 2024/Primary Care
The Difference Between Mineral and Chemical Sunscreens

Mineral sunscreens have a heavier texture to create a physical barrier, while chemical sunscreens are lighter and use a chemical reaction to prevent UV damage

Person holding jar of moisturizer, with moisturizer on fingers
May 15, 2024/Skin Care & Beauty
7 Tips for Treating Dry Skin on Your Face

Deal with dry skin by preserving your skin’s moisture, using moisturizing products and taking preventive action

female examining neck wrinkles
April 29, 2024/Skin Care & Beauty
Neck Wrinkles? Here’s What Can Help

Give the delicate skin on your neck some TLC by wearing sunscreen every day and trying a retinoid or topical antioxidant

Acrylic nails being filed by manicurist
April 24, 2024/Skin Care & Beauty
Are Acrylic Nails Bad for Your Nails and Skin?

Before your next manicure, weigh the reward against the risk of infection, irritated skin and damaged nails

Fingers with globs of petroleum jelly above container
April 18, 2024/Skin Care & Beauty
Slugging: Does This Skin Care Trend Work?

Go ahead and get goopy to help boost hydration and repair damaged skin

Salmon over lentils and carrots
April 15, 2024/Nutrition
Psoriasis and Diet: How Foods Can Impact Inflammation

A well-balanced diet with anti-inflammatory foods can help reduce flare-ups and severity of psoriasis symptoms

Trending Topics

Female and friend jogging outside
How To Increase Your Metabolism for Weight Loss

Focus on your body’s metabolic set point by eating healthy foods, making exercise a part of your routine and reducing stress

stovetop with stainless steel cookware and glassware
5 Ways Forever Chemicals (PFAS) May Affect Your Health

PFAS chemicals may make life easier — but they aren’t always so easy on the human body

jar of rice water and brush, with rice scattered around table
Could Rice Water Be the Secret To Healthier Hair?

While there’s little risk in trying this hair care treatment, there isn’t much science to back up the claims

Ad