They're scented, fizzy, and fun, but do bath bombs really do anything (besides stain your tub)? We talked to a cosmetic chemist and a dermatologist to find out.
If there's one thing I've learned about the Internet, it's that you never know what will blow up. Case in point: Not long ago, my Twitter and Tumblr feeds were suddenly flooded with posts tagged #BathBombing. The meme featured parodies showing everything from the bomb emoji to eggs being tossed in water ("Love my new bath bomb!" read the captions)—presumably mocking the trend of teenagers tossing Lush's colorful, fragrant balls of bath soak in a tub and breathlessly documenting it for the Internet. Just like Gangnam Style and #TheDress, we'll never know exactly why bath bombing took off, but it did spark a conversation around the Allure offices: Do bath bombs actually do anything?As it turns out, these palm-size spheres are nothing more than an innocuous mix of fizzy ingredients, salts, colorants, oils, and some surprises (rose petals or glitter, for instance). Cosmetic chemist Randy Schueller, editor of thebeautybrains.com, breaks it down like this: In water, the sodium bicarbonate in the bomb reacts with the citric acid to release carbon dioxide gas. This is no different from what happens when you drop an Alka-Seltzer tablet in a glass of water. The bath bomb starts to break apart as this happens, releasing with it the colorants, fragrances, and skin-conditioning ingredients, like salts and oils. The combination turns your bath water a psychedelic blend of colors and scents your whole bathroom, but as far as your skin is concerned, they're essentially no different from adding a splash of bath oil or salt into the water. "Bath bombs can add oils to a bath, and the oils are moisturizing," says Amy Wechsler, a dermatologist in New York City. "On the other hand, some of the ingredients can be irritating, especially the fragrances and dyes." Not to mention picking glitter out of places that should never sparkle. So if you have skin that is at all sensitive, skip the bath bomb altogether (if you're wondering, Schueller identifies the most common irritants in bath soaks as limonene, linalool, and alpha-isomethyl ionone). The bottom line? Bath bombs fall into the same category as baths themselves: less about function and more about the sensory experience. So unless you're concerned about irritants—or just a neat freak who doesn't want to deal with a magenta bathtub ring—bombs away!
Post Via, Allure.com