ASK ANA: Bath Bombs
Hi Ana, mani-bombs seem all the rage. But I’m confused. You teach that water is damaging to nails. So are they ok, or should we stay away from them? Are bath bombs ok? ~Anne
To put it simply, mani bath bombs make me cringe.
I was shocked when I learned from author Doug Schoon (Nail Structure and Chemistry) that fingernails have the ability to absorb 3 times their weight in water.
Repetitive exposure to water can cause delamination—the fancy word for peeling. I explain this in more detail in my article about water absorption.
I should add the disclaimer here that I’m not a doctor, a scientist or chemist.
I like to research by going down different rabbit holes and pulling information from different places. My goal is “thinking and processing” rather than just taking advice blindly.
According to the Cambridge Dictionary, moisture is very small drops of water, either in the air or on a surface: “It was a clear day with little moisture in the air.”
So, one could make the assumption that water on the surface of our skin or nails would provide “moisture.”
This is completely false.
Does your skin feel moisturized after a shower or bath?
Have you ever heard the advice that we shouldn’t take hot showers because it dries out the skin?
So what’s correct?
Your miraculous body has given you the road map.
If we don’t drink enough water, our skin feels dry and our lips start to chap.
If we wash our hands too much, the skin gets tight and starts to feel prickly. In extreme cases, the skin starts to crack.
Do you have dry heels—maybe cracked skin?
Does water make it worse or better? I can see you smiling as your mental light bulb is getting lit.
The definition of “hydration” is: a substance produced by chemically combining substances with water.
Your nail bed and skin push a hydrating blend of water and body oil (sebum) through your skin and nail plate.
Your body creates the perfect blend to keep our skin soft and water resistant. That sounds more like hydration to me.
Oil Is The Solution, Not Water
Water coming in contact with your skin and nails actually strips the oil from both.
But mani and bath bombs have essential oils, that must be ok, right?
Nope. Oil and water don’t mix.
Now let’s think about the Italian salad dressing in your refrigerator. Vinegar behaves the same as water.
Oil and vinegar, as everyone knows, don’t mix. You can force them to do so by shaking or mixing them violently, but they’ll eventually part ways. But you can compel them to make friends through by introducing an intermediary. Garlic and mustard make very good ambassadors, but there are other foods which work equally well: blue cheese, catsup, a touch of miso, and of course egg yolk, which is perhaps too good an emulsifier for vinaigrette-it will make your dressing seem more solid than liquid. [Credit: LifeHacker.com]
Ok, get out of the refrigerator Ana! Back to the mani and bath bombs.
The Bath Bomb
What’s the process with mani or bath bombs—soak your nails or skin in a wonderful bubbly concoction of baking soda, corn starch, citric acid, epsom salt, teaspoons water, essential oil (1 tsp) , coconut or olive oil (1 & 1/4 tsp), and possibly food coloring. The DIY recipe I found makes 6 large bath bombs.
Now for some basic math. Two & 1/4 tsp. divided by six bath bombs equals 1/3 tsp. per bath bomb.
Humm, soak in water for 15 minutes—bad—and come out with a thin film of oil on your skin—good. But how much of that oil is left in the bath tub?
Mani bombs are much smaller, so they contain significantly less oil. And again—how much is left in the bowl?
In the meantime, the water has stripped more oil from the skin and nail plates than that thin film of oil can replace.
Since we can’t just stop bathing and washing our hands, we need to take some time to mend our skin abuse.
A jojoba wax ester based hydrating oil can help reverse our germaphobe habits—and the “I know I shouldn’t wash my hands so much, but I can’t help it.”
Our skin seems to be able to recover from water far better than the damage it does to the nail plate.
You want to have nail polish on your nails at all times when they come in contact with water. Be extremely careful to not let your nails absorb water. This is why my number one rule is “Never Shower Naked.”
Enjoy that bath bomb. Ditch the mani bomb. And be ready to add wonderful oils that mimic sebum back onto your skin.
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