5 Reasons to pick a Bath Oil over Bubbles

Bubbles versus an oil, it almost feels like it's a no-brainer,  after all, who doesn't love sinking into a tub of warm, bubble filled water?  It's the ultimate food for the soul, a chance to wash away the stresses and strains of the day and indulge in a few precious minutes of pleasure.

 But increasingly, sinking into that warm, bubble filled tub comes at a cost.

 Dry, itchy skin?

 Sensitised skin?

 Sore bits that pop up in the crook of your elbow or knee, and little patches of eczema.

 A quick straw poll around the office, and every one of the women here confess to having sensitive skin to a greater or less degree.

 And it’s not just the girls, boys are getting in on the act as well, and are increasingly aware of their skin and wanting to look after it.

62% is the percentage of women who say they suffer from skin that is sensitive.*

Bubbles might be the first choice for a spot of water relaxation therapy, but it all comes down to the ingredients.



To make those lovely bubbles, you need a surfactant or detergent and generally that means Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) or Sodium Laureth Sulfate  (SLES).

Foaming agents can be tough on your skin, they strip the protective layer, and make it more susceptible and sensitive to other ingredients.  They are often associated with dry skin and eczema break outs.

I personally prefer to avoid these.  Don't get me wrong I love bubbles as much as the next girl.  I'm just less keen on the dry, itchy bits that appear afterwards.

A Bath/Shower Oil by comparison doesn't need to contain a detergent of any sort. 

Not all oils are created equal though.  Ditch anything petroleum derived and go for pure plant oils.  Naturally protecting and hydrating, they nourish the skin super gently.

These are a few of my favourites:

Apricot Oil - Softening and hydrating and useful for sensitive, itchy skin

Camellia Oil - Antioxidant rich, which makes it good skin as we age.  It is quickly absorbed by our skin.  Also known as tea seed oil, or kissi oil, it comes from the same plant that is used to cultivate tea.

Safflower/Thistle Oil - Super mild and good for dry, itchy skin.

Jojoba Oil - Actually a liquid wax, and very similar to our own sebum, which is why it’s great on our skin.  Doesn't leave a greasy feel.

2 - Artificial Fragrance vs Essential oils


Fragrance or 'parfum' as it sometimes appears on labels can cover a whole host of unknown stuff, and therein lies the problem. 

Everyone loves their bubbles to smell nice.  Imagine sinking into a tub of bubbles with that aroma that speaks to just you, a feminine, floral number, a herbaceous, zingy green scent or perhaps something more Mediterranean and citrus.

What's in that beautiful fragrance?

Is it natural or artificial?

Manufacturers don't need to specify.  'Parfum' can be made  up of pretty much anything.  There are more than 5000 synthetic fragrance components used by the beauty industry. 

For those people with sensitive skin,'parfum' can be a nightmare.  It can give you a reaction, and you're  not actually sure which ingredient is the culprit.

A lot of bubbles products come with a host of artificial fragrance ingredients which in conjunction with foaming ingredients I prefer to stay clear of.

Essential oils are 100% natural and are more often (though not exclusively) used in bath oil products.  That 's what we use. 

It is possible to be allergic to essential oils, so  you do need to exercise caution if your skin is super sensitive, and a patch test make sense.

There are 26 known allergens that have to be listed on skincare labels, which can be found in both natural and artificial fragrances.  But they must be visible, which is a whole lot more useful than 'parfum' where you have no idea of what's in a formulation.

Read those ingredient labels and make sure you can see what's in that product.  You're paying good money for it, it’s your right to know what’s  in it!

3 - Artificial Colour


Look down the aisles of any high street store, and see how many bubble products have a delicate blush tinge, a deep blue colour or a beautifully, pearly white liquid.

I have one word for you, (OK two), artificial colour.

Just avoid, if you have sensitive skin.

With a bath oil, you know what colour to expect, depending on the mix of plant oils golden-ish, maybe a bit lighter, maybe darker.  But not pink or blue.  For most bath oils that means artificial colour free.

4 - Skin Nurturing Ingredients


Plant Oils have gained a huge following  recently, and are a great starting point for those who are new to the natural beauty scene.  Nourishing, protecting and nurturing plant oils really can do it all.

While you are relaxing in the scented waters of your bath, the natural plant oils have a powerful moisturising effect.  Oils are able to penetrate the outer layers of our skin, creating an occlusive layer and trapping water beneath it.  This is what makes your skin feel softer.

Plant oils are similar to the natural oils within our own skins which means they are metabolised by the skin.  They also naturally contain Essential Fatty Acids which benefit our skin.

So compare lounging in a tub full of foaming detergent (albeit disguised in the bubbles) with chilling in a tub of bath oil scented water, and it becomes the ultimate lazy girl's trick to pampered, super soft skin.

And if you're worried about turning your bath into an oil slick, remember, with the best luxury bath oils, you only need the tiniest amount, I recommend about 1/2 a teaspoon for a whole bath. 

5 - Waterless


Waterless might sound like a strange thing to say about taking a bath, but think about the ingredients again of our bottle of bubbles.   

Consider  that beautiful bottle on the shelf of your bathroom, the chic glass bottle, the muted colours on the packaging to fit with you interior décor, and the ingredients on that label. 

A bubble bath product will on average contain about 70% water. That's a lot of the retail price on coloured water.

A bath oil, a good one at least in comparison will contain 100% pure plant oils.  Many times more expensive.  But  also many times more nourishing and protecting for your skin.  100% active ingredients if you like.  Not 30%, or more likely less than 10%.

Where would you rather spend your money?

For me, in conclusion,  I firmly believe that the ingredients in a really good natural or organic bath oil are many times more superior to a bottle of coloured bubbles. 

For those of us with sensitive skin, knowing exactly what's in a product, including the ingredients used to scent a product is important.  It gives us choice, and choice is power.

I also believe from a value perspective I would much rather spend my money on a bottle filled with ingredients that are going to nourish my skin, rather than a bottle filled with water and pretty colour.

You can shop The Rose Tree's award winning, luxury, organic Bath & Shower oils here.

* Sensitive skin: an epidemiological study.  The British Journal of Dermatology, 2001


Kate Lingwood

Kate Lingwood said:

How interesting !! I always prefer bathing to showering but reading what actually is in a bubble bath – its quite shocking !!

I do have semi dry bits on me ! – and I guess know I know why.
More than happy to try an oil – especially now I know its not going to be full of rubbish.

Note to self – if bubbles are desired , leave it to the bottled alcoholic variety

Thanks TRT

The Rose Tree

The Rose Tree said:

It’s true Kate, foaming agents can be harsh on sensitive skins, but with an oil it moisturises as you relax. And we like your thinking on the bubbles, a glass of fizz perhaps? A girl after our own heart! :)

Leave a comment

Please note: comments must be approved before they are published.