Your Doctor Wants You to Stop Using That Glittery Bath Bomb ASAP
Picture this: It’s the early days of winter. The sun goes down at approximately 4:30 p.m., the winds are chilly, and you’re in need of some serious self-care. You decide to take a long, hot bath, complete with a glittering, colorful bath bomb, some fragrant bubbles, and a favorite book or TV show.
There’s always a catch, though: Your moment of stress relief and self-care by unwinding with a product may disrupt your personal pH.
According to Dr. Andrea Dweck, MD, an OBGYN based in New York, vaginal and vulvar irritations are on the rise, in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the “stay-at-home” reality. “During this time, people are ordering whatever they can find from Amazon for general hygiene and spa-like treatments. Lots of people are realizing that they’re loyal to a certain brand for a reason,” she says, adding that common bodily irritants can include toilet paper, personal hygiene products, bath bombs, laundry detergent, and fabric softener—basically, “everything that touches the intimate area has the potential” to irritate your body.
“People do tend to get used to what they use, and when they change [potentially due to stock issues], often there can be an issue,” she explains. “The problems we see most often are discharge, vaginal irritation, vulvar irritation, yeast, bacteria, rashes, and itching.”
Dr. Dweck says that the biggest culprit is often products loaded with fragrance. “Strong, really potent fragrances tend to be a big no-no for women who are super sensitive,” she says. “This would include anybody going through hormone changes, people with sensitive skin, menopausal women.” In other words? Yes, that bubble bath or bath bomb may smell delicious, but it could mean trouble down the road.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies bath bombs and bubble baths as cosmetics, and while they allow certain color additives to be used, they caveat that when you combine additives, they “may form new pigments, which may not be approved for the intended use. An example is ‘holographic’ glitter, consisting of aluminum, an approved color additive, boned to an etched plastic film.” In simpler terms, that means that while they can enforce certain guidelines, they don’t regulate everything—and those cute and cheeky bath bombs could land on the list of products you might be better off avoiding. There’s also another issue at play: Besides potentially irritating your skin, glitter-infused products can also have an effect on the environment.
Dr. Dweck’s biggest tips for any new self-care products are to pay attention to ingredients and to use baby steps when adding said product to your beauty or wellness routine. “Less is more is the general adage,” she shares. “If you’ve never tried [a product] before, soak a small part first before you take the plunge.” For example, if you’re adding essential oils to your bath, try one or two drops first and see how your skin and body responds.
Self-care and relaxation should be a priority for all, especially in uncertain times, so don’t worry—you can still soak away your cares or indulge in your favorite treatments without needing a trip to the doctor’s office. Below are a few of my picks to help you focus on your wellness this winter, without worrying about a last-minute trip to the ER.
These unscented Epsom salts dissolve quickly in warm water and will help soothe your muscles and relax you without any extra aroma or ingredients.
For a nourishing bath experience, try Epsom salts with an added dose of coconut oil to moisturize and soften your skin as you soak.
You can also try adding actual coconut oil to your bath for a major dose of moisture; add a small amount to the water and do double-duty by conditioning your hair with it, too. Just make sure to thoroughly clean out the tub when you’re done to avoid slipping!
If bubble baths are your personal oasis, consider trying a concoction intended for babies and small children, which tend to be more mild and gentle than the kind made for adults. This version from The Honest Company is made with lavender essential oil to help promote a calm vibe, but make sure to test it before you bathe to make sure your body doesn’t react adversely.
No matter what your skin is feeling at any given moment, there’s a TONYMOLY mask for you in this set! Sheet masks are a great way to treat your face and unwind because they kind of force you to lay in one place for 20 minutes.
Hey, lube counts as self-care! This one is water-based, is made with 100% organic aloe leaf juice, and comes gynecologist-approved.
This bubble bath is specially formulated to be gentle to all of you — your “Queen V” included. It’s pH-balanced, gynecologist-recommended, and is made without dyes and parabens for a bathing experience that is as relaxing as it is beneficial to your bod.
Hair care brand Ouai has expanded into bath and body care, and, their bath bombs are made with jojoba, hemp, and safflower seed oil to calm and nourish skin while you soak. You won’t unlock bubbles when you plop one into the tub, but the formula is free of parabens, SLS and SLES sulfates, phthalates and other potential irritants, so unwind as you enjoy the calm vibes. (There is some fragrance in these, so be careful if you’re sensitive.)
CBD has quickly become a go-to in the wellness world, and this “bath gem” features broad-spectrum hemp CBD alongside epsom salt and meadowfoam seed oil to soothe your muscles, soften skin, and relax you from head to toe.