My kids LOVE bubble bath… in fact, the more bubbles the better! When bubbles start getting low they start begging me to add more bubbles. Bubble baths are also relaxing after a long day or when you want some quiet / calm time to yourself.
I didn’t give my kids bubble baths very often because it wasn’t easy to find a chemical free version. I was especially careful about using bubble bath because this wasn’t a product that washes off quickly like shampoo or body wash. This was something they were going to literally soak in for 20+ minutes allowing the ingredients a better opportunity to be “soaked in” through the skin. They usually don’t have a shower after the bubble bath either so it will stay on the skin for even longer. So whatever was in the bath, stays on their skin.
The FDA requires that a warning should be put on all ‘foaming detergent bath products’: “Excessive use or prolonged exposure may cause irritation to skin and urinary tract”.
Why is that? Well, let’s have a look at the ingredients commonly found in kids’ bubble baths.
Common ingredients in bubble baths
Surfactants – to make bubbles.
Emulsifiers – to stop ingredients from separating in the bottle.
Emollients – to make your skin feel soft after the bath.
Fragrance – to make your bath smell good.
Colors – fun for kids.
Preservatives – to keep a long shelf life.
Ingredients to avoid in bubble bath
1. Fragrance – unless it’s essential oil based, I avoid fragrance. Manufacturers don’t have to disclose what’s in perfumes. And so fragrances can contain suspected allergens and sensitizers, phthalates, neurotoxins and endocrine disrupters.
2. Phthalates – often found in perfume ingredients, and you won’t know because manufacturers don’t have to tell you.
3. Propylene glycol – used as a humectant (to lock moisture into your skin), an emulsifier and as a preservative. It can cause skin irritation and is associated with allergic contact dermatitis. Not an ingredient that I want to be soaking in!
4. Synthetic colors – FD&C or D&C colors are just in a product to make it look pretty. These are coal tar derivatives (petroleum by product) – contamination concerns.
5. Sulphates – these are common surfactants. SLS used to be very common, but manufacturers aren’t using it as much because it’s an irritant.
6. Cocamidopropyl betaine – there are contamination concerns (nitrosamines being the main concern). That’s why it’s suspected of being an irritant. Lots of companies say it’s ‘derived from coconut’ and so it’s natural. However, it’s so far derived from coconut that it’s basically synthetic. Besides contamination concerns, cocamidopropyl betaine is also a penetration enhancer. It means that other chemicals can get into your skin more easily. And that’s concern if the other ingredients you’re exposed to are toxic.
7. PEG’s – can cause skin irritations, and shouldn’t be used on broken skin. Also, there are concerns that PEGs can be contaminated with 1,4 dioxane.
8. Cocamide DEA – surfactant and emulsifier which scores a 7 in EWG. It’s a skin toxicant and allergen. And it’s linked to organ system toxicity. Plus it’s considered to be a carcinogen, and there are concerns that it can be contaminated with nitrosamines. That makes for one toxic tub!
9. Polysorbate 20 – another surfactant and emulsifier. This one is problematic because it can be contaminated with ethylene oxide and 1,4 dioxane.
10. Methylchloroisothiazolinone (MCI) and Methylisothiazolinone (MIT) – widely associated with contact dermatitis, especially in leave on products (like bubble bath).
11. Phenoxyethanol – can cause skin and lung irritation, and there is evidence of organ toxicity.
12. Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate – scores a 6 in the EWG database, because it may release formaldehyde. Although it is derived from a natural source, it’s synthetic, not natural.
Make Your Own Bubble Bath!
1 Bottle of Natural Dishwashing Soap such as ecover (this is a great option for everyday dish washing)
¼ Cup of Glycerine
1 Tablespoon of Sugar
10 Drops of Lavender Essential Oil or AromaTouch
Mix together all ingredients gently until sugar is dissolved.
Store in container and enjoy in your next warm bath filled with luxurious bubbles. The secret to this recipe is the glycerine and sugar that create big, long, lasting bubbles. For this recipe, I use ecover dishwashing detergent because it is made with natural ingredients and scores an A on the ewg.org website. Click Here
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Are you attracted to the idea of taking better care of yourself and feeling empowered with natural solutions at your fingertips at home? I am sure you have been hearing people talking about essential oils and maybe you have considered incorporating them into your own life but:
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