We will be upfront here and answer the question: NO, bath bombs are not cosmetics.
But for the sake of argument, I want to unfold this issue a little further. I think a lot of people reading this right now are either:
1) a long-time bath bomb user and have recently been concerned about some articles that have been popping up about bath bomb recipes not using FDA-approved colorant; or
2) those who have never tried bath bombs and would want to but is doing a bit of research on how to make bath bombs, what is a bath bomb, especially when it comes to FDA regulations.
Whatever reason got you reading this article, we hope to make light of a few concerns you might have regarding using DIY bath bombs before rummaging through soap making kits or going back to just meddling soap making supplies.
First, though, we need to define a few things to help ease necessary explanation later.
What’s a Bath Bomb?
Let’s start by defining what is a bath bomb. Traditionally, these are circular, bomb-like bath products that are packed with a mixture of ingredients that effervesces when it makes contact with water. So when added to bath water, they add scent, bubbles, and colour.
What’s a Cosmetic Product?
Let us get technical here and lift the very definition of a cosmetic from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Their website says,
“The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) defines cosmetics by their intended use, as “articles intended to be rubbed, poured, sprinkled, or sprayed on, introduced into, or otherwise applied to the human body…for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness, or altering the appearance” [FD&C Act, sec. 201(i)]. Among the products included in this definition are skin moisturizers, perfumes, lipsticks, fingernail polishes, eye and facial makeup preparations, cleansing shampoos, permanent waves, hair colors, and deodorants, as well as any substance intended for use as a component of a cosmetic product”
How does the law define a cosmetic?
The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) defines cosmetics by their intended use, as “articles intended to be rubbed, poured, sprinkled, or sprayed on, introduced into, or otherwise applied to the human body…for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness, or altering the appearance” [FD&C Act, sec. 201(i)]. Among the products included in this definition are skin moisturizers, perfumes, lipsticks, fingernail polishes, eye and facial makeup preparations, cleansing shampoos, permanent waves, hair colors, and deodorants, as well as any substance intended for use as a component of a cosmetic product.
How does the law define a drug?
The FD&C Act defines drugs, in part, by their intended use, as “articles intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease” and “articles (other than food) intended to affect the structure or any function of the body of man or other animals” [FD&C Act, sec. 201(g)(1)].
How can a product be both a cosmetic and a drug?
Some products meet the definitions of both cosmetics and drugs. This may happen when a product has two intended uses.
For example, a shampoo is a cosmetic because its intended use is to cleanse the hair. An anti-dandruff treatment is a drug because its intended use is to treat dandruff. Consequently, an anti-dandruff shampoo is both a cosmetic and a drug.
Among other cosmetic/drug combinations are toothpastes that contain fluoride, deodorants that are also antiperspirants, and moisturizers and makeup marketed with sun-protection claims. Such products must comply with the requirements for both cosmetics and drugs.
Why Bath Bombs are not Cosmetic Products
With these definitions, let us go through each point of FDA regulations’ definition of a cosmetic and see if it checks out with what is a bath bomb and with the purpose a bath bomb serves.
Are bath bombs meant to be rubbed on skin?
Do bath bombs cleanse?
- No. They are more like “additives” to that which technically cleanses the body.
- Also no.
And I guess we can now also say that bath bombs are not moisturizers, perfumes, nail polishes, eye and facial makeup, hair products, or deodorants.
Yet bath bombs sometimes – even the DIY bath bombs like these ones – include oils that promise to moisturize the skin or combat itchiness and inflammation. Do they now fall into the cosmetics category? Yes. And by all means, you are free to use food-grade dye, as FDA regulations’ “Color Additives Permitted for Use in Cosmetics” page, food colorant may be used.
Should Bath Bombs be FDA-approved?
Here’s a good response from our own customer care on why we still need to loop back to bath bombs not being cosmetics:
“However, if you are using [bath bombs] at home or selling bath bombs that are used into the tub water to color it with fragrance; based on the response from FDA above, we do not think it is under the cosmetic category because it is no cosmetic value. Please do feel free to double check with FDA directly if you have further doubt.”
We hope this article helped. If you have any further questions, comment away and we’ll try our best to give an answer, especially those related to DIY bath bombs. As our customer care response also said, feel free to direct questions to FDA and we’d love to hear what they have to say so we can share best practices with fellow soap- and craft-makers.
The FDA website- Is it cosmetic, a Drug, or Both? (Or is it Soap?)
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