I love baths. I love the feeling of being totally submerged in warm water; sinking into the tub’s embrace, limb by limb. During the pandemic, my love for baths turned into something of a pastime. And in my newfound fascination with all things tub-related, I discovered the bath bomb.
Before I lose you, this isn’t an ode to bathing. But my long hours spent soaking in hot, psychedelic waters got me wondering about these trending products. And as an avid DIYer, I wanted to know if I could make them myself. Turns out, they’re very easy to make and I had all of the ingredients lying around my house already. What’s more, I realized that this was a creative DIY project that people could cash in on.
A quick search told me that the US bath bomb market is expected to grow into a $350 million USD industry by 2025. Bath bombs are so popular in fact, that there are millions of Instagram photos dedicated to documenting how these colorful balls explode as they hit the water, filling bathtubs around the world with swirls of color.
So, if you’re an upstart entrepreneur looking for a new business idea or a DIYer with a knack for crafts but don’t know how to turn your hobbies into a viable business, I have a solution for you: learn how to make bath bombs to sell.
Here, I’ll guide you through the process of making bath bombs and sourcing ingredients, all the way to building, marketing, and scaling a profitable business.
Why start a bath bomb business?
Starting a bath bomb business has a few major benefits—namely, that you can make them in your kitchen with inexpensive ingredients and no machinery.
They're also hugely popular. Bath bombs have become a worldwide trend in the last few years and a mainstay in people’s self-care routines. And they’re showing no sign of slowing down: based on Google Trends, queries for “bath bomb” and related terms have steadily increased over the last five years.
In addition to being a lucrative market with surging consumer demand, here are a few other reasons why you should consider making bath bombs and cashing in on this trend:
- Low start-up costs. Since you probably have most of the ingredients you need at home, starting a bath bomb business is extremely inexpensive. You can make a few dozen bath bombs for as little as $30.
Don’t need a lot of space. Because bath bombs are small and compact, you can easily store additional inventory in your house without paying for extra storage.
- Easy to customize. We’ll introduce you to a simple bath bomb recipe below that serves as a guideline for creating your own, but you can switch out interesting or unusual ingredients to differentiate your products.
Types of bath bombs (and licensing requirements)
Now that you know this self-care trend has traction, let’s examine the common types of bath bombs that you can consider making, and the target markets you can sell to.
From a product standpoint, bath bombs fall under two broad categories: cosmetics and drugs. Navigating what your product falls under can be tricky, but it basically comes down to what claims you’re making about your bath bomb. If you make any claims about mental or physical benefits, then it’s considered a drug. Otherwise, it’s considered a cosmetic.
Most of the bath bombs we list below are considered cosmetics and are treated like soaps or lotions by governing bodies. If you plan on marketing your bath bombs for their medicinal benefits, your products must be FDA approved for effectiveness as well as safety. FDA approval can be a costly and time-consuming process, but there are third-parties that will take care of the approval process for you for a fee.
Requirements vary from country to country, so consult your local government for more information on how to register your cosmetic bath bombs:
- US FDA’s Voluntary Cosmetic Registration Program (VCRP)
- Canada’s Cosmetic Notification Form (CNF)
- UK's Cosmetic Product Notification to the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS)
Classic ball bath bombs
Most people—even if you aren’t a “self-care junkie” like I am—are familiar with the classic bath bomb. These products are traditionally spherical in shape and come in a variety of colors, scents, and soothing oils. Some may not have fragrances or colors and are only used for the purpose of cleansing and moisturizing the body, while others have glitter and a range of colors for a more visual effect. These are considered mass-market products, and have a broad demographic of customers.
Jewel bath bombs
Bath and jewelry? Sign me up. As if the soothing oils and intergalactic waters weren’t luxurious enough, some brands like to spoil their customers even more by adding jewelry to their bath bombs. Popular brands like Charmed Aroma and Fragrant Jewels are well-known for these products, and are a great gift for loved ones. These bath bomb brands typically target women and girls aged 16 to 35.
Crystal bath bombs
For the folks who love baths that are as sparkly as they are relaxing, crystal bath bombs are the answer. The addition of crystals into these products has caught the eye of consumers—especially the growing market of consumers who believe that crystals have healing powers. Once reserved for fringey New Age circles, crystal healing has become a billion-dollar mainstream business. Still, most of these products are sold to spiritual, urban-dwelling women between the ages of 20 and 35, who have higher-than-average incomes.
Shaped/themed bath bombs
Other brands have chosen to think outside the box (or ball) by designing products in a variety of shapes and sizes. Whether they're intended as favors for a bridal or baby shower, a gift for a pastry lover, or fun bathtime for kiddos, there’s likely a themed product out there to meet any shopper's niche demands. And from hearts to donuts to chill pills to Pokeballs, the only limit on the shape of your bath bomb is your imagination.
Aromatherapy bath bombs
These bath bombs have been formulated with therapeutic grade essential oils. Distilled from the leaves, flowers, and seeds of plants, essential oils are used in bath bombs to target various physical and emotional ailments, like stress, dry skin, and digestive issues.
Since aromatherapy is a type of alternative medicine that claims to have therapeutic benefits, the use of essential oils classifies these products as drugs, not cosmetics, and therefore they have to be approved by the FDA as such.
Although these types of bath bombs have higher barriers to entry, interest in aromatherapy is growing significantly as consumers become more invested in their health and wellness. With the global wellness industry worth $3.7 trillion, it may be good business sense to invest in this type of bath bomb product.
💡TIP: We strongly urge you to not bypass getting FDA approval. Getting audited by the FDA can have serious legal and financial implications—this is not the kind of hot water you want to find yourself in.
How to make bath bombs
Once you’ve settled on what type of bath bomb you want to make, it’s time to start making them.
Bath bombs are surprisingly easy to make and only require a few essential items. While you can switch out some of these ingredients to customize your bath bombs, the basic recipe for one batch of bath bombs calls for:
- 1 cup baking soda
- ½ cup citric acid
- ½ cup Epsom salt
- ½ cup cornstarch
- ¾ tsp water
- 2 tsp essential oil (lavender, eucalyptus, rose, orange, and lemongrass are popular for the bath)
- 2 tsp carrier oil (jojoba, sweet almond, coconut, olive, or even baby oil)
- 2 tsp of shea butter for an extra moisturizing “butter” bath bomb
- A few drops of food coloring (make sure it doesn’t stain)
- Optional: dried flowers, sugar cake decorations, sparkles, crystals etc.
💡TIP: Purchase silicone molds that are used for baking or for freezing ice into specific shapes. These hold up well during the creation process, are easily cleaned, and can help you create multiple products in one batch.
1. Mix dry ingredients
With the exception of the citric acid, mix the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
2. Mix wet ingredients
In another mixing bowl, pour in all of the liquid ingredients and blend.
3. Mix wet and dry together
Pour the liquid mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients, and whisk to meld together. Slowly add in the citric acid and continue blending. You'll probably notice a slight fizzing reaction because of the citric acid. No need to panic—this is normal.
4. Mold and freeze
Pack the mixture into your chosen molds very tightly. You can overfill the molds slightly and use a spoon or glass to press the mixture in as tightly as possible.
5. Unmold and store
After freezing remove the bath bombs from the molds and ta da! If you don’t plan to sell them right away, store them in airtight containers like plastic or glass Tupperware. Fresher bombs fizz and bubble more when dropped in a bath, so proper storage is integral to keep your inventory at its highest level of quality.
If you chose to let them air-dry instead of freezing them, give the bath bombs a day or two to completely dry before using them or wrapping them up.
Note: Because bath bombs are crumbly in texture, molds with intricate designs and small pieces could break off. Testing and experimentation will help you figure out the best molds to use to achieve your desired results.
Sourcing ingredients 101
Now that you’ve perfected making bath bombs, it’s time to figure out your bath bomb formulations. Luckily for you, most of the ingredients you need can be bought at your local grocery store or in bulk online, but since customers are soaking in your products for long periods of time, you’ll want to pay close attention to what ingredients you use and how they’re sourced.
Questions to ask yourself when choosing ingredients and formulations
Whether you’re re-creating popular bath bomb recipes or coming up with your own unique blends, you want to be sure you’re making truthful claims on your packaging, and that the ingredients you’re using are safe. Here’s what to consider when sourcing ingredients:
- Are the ingredients skincare-grade and/or approved for use in skincare in your country? For example, coconut oil may be sold in both food-grade or skincare-grade versions.
- Is the food coloring or soap dye you’re using FDA-approved? Is it water-soluble, stain-free, and bleed-free?
- Are you looking for all-natural ingredients? How will you ensure that the suppliers’ claims are legitimate?
- Is your brand going to be eco-conscious? Are the ingredients you’re using biodegradable?
- Will your products make organic claims? Be sure that the supplier possesses the appropriate certifications. These will differ from country to country.
- What are the labelling laws in your country and the countries where you ship? How much information do you have to give about "fragrances"?
- Are any of the ingredients (especially essential oils) known as common allergens? For example, some people develop hives or blisters when exposed to bergamot oil.
These are just a few questions to help you get started. If you’re coming up with your own formulations, the learning curve will be steeper as you navigate how certain ingredients or additives behave together—especially if you’re using essential oils for aromatherapy bombs. In this case, I highly recommend that you hire a third-party to help you with the research and development process.
Choosing the right supplier of essential oils
All your ingredients should be sourced with care, but it’s essential oils that you should be most discerning about. With a potency of 50 to 100 times that of their original leaves or seeds, essential oils should be used with caution.
What's more, not all oils are created with purity in mind and they’re not regulated by the FDA, so you need to be your own advocate when it comes to sourcing the good stuff. Oils from disreputable sources may be cut with fillers, processed with chemicals, or just filled with “fragrance oils” that don’t have any plant benefits.
Here are a few things to look for when buying essential oils:
- Dark bottles. Since light and heat can damage oil, a quality supplier will sell their essential oils in a tightly sealed dark (usually amber) glass bottle. Never buy essential oil sold in a plastic bottle.
Plant name. It should clearly state the common and the Latin name of the plant used to make the oil as well as what plant parts were used, how it was extracted (distillation or expression), and how it was grown (aka organic, wild-crafted, traditional).
- Source. If the label doesn’t outright mention country of origin, you might see a "lot#", which you can then look up.
If you plan on buying essential oils in bulk from wholesale suppliers, you have to be thorough with your research. Here are a few tips to help you assess an essential oil supplier:
- Check for certification and references. If you go the organic route, check for certification. For US suppliers, look for a “USDA certified” label on their website and if it’s in Canada, it’ll be accredited by the CFIA with a “Canada Organic” label.
- Don’t fall for low prices. It’s natural to want to choose the most inexpensive product when you’re buying wholesale, but if the price is much lower than competitors, this is a sign you’re probably paying for fragrance oils with no medicinal benefits. But be wary of the opposite, too: pricy bottles means you’re paying for branding rather than the product itself.
- Talk to aromatherapy practitioners. As the professionals who are most experienced in using therapeutic-grade essential oils, they’re an incredibly helpful resource for any entrepreneur who’s interested in incorporating essential oils into their product. Not only can they suggest oils and suppliers, they can even help you come up with the most effective formulation for your bath bombs.
📚 Read more:
How to start a bath bomb business
Once you've mastered your bath bomb formulations, it's time to start selling. First, you’ll have to think through how you’re going to handle production and customer service. Are you able to accommodate single, multiple, or wholesale orders or will you need to hire help? Where do you want to sell and ship to? How will you manage inventory and fulfillment? You want to nail down all of the logistics before you launch your business.
Build an online store
Once that’s all sorted out, your next step is to set up your online store. It only takes a minute to sign up for a free Shopify trial, and we’ll give you some time to play around before you commit to a subscription. Or if you're ready, you can buy your website domain name and connect it to your Shopify store with our domain generator.
You’ll want to choose a Shopify Theme that puts photos first and displays your colorful bath bombs directly on the homepage. We suggest themes designed for beauty brands like Simple, Broadcast, or Prestige.
Finally, you want to make sure your product photos really pop. Bath bombs are extremely photogenic, so you’ll want to show off their colors, textures, and shapes with high quality photography. And since the real magic of bath bombs is in their activation, you may want to consider including videos of your products in action on your product pages.
Start your free 3-day trial of Shopify—no credit card required!
📚 Read more:
- The Beginner’s Guide to Product Photography
- Best Free Video Editing Software
- Product Pages: 16 Beautiful Product Landing Page Examples
- How to Optimize Your Product Pages for Sales
Labeling, packaging, and shipping bath bombs
Bath bombs are delicate and have a tendency to crumble if they’re not in the right conditions, so when you’re ready to package and ship your products, make sure you have the following:
- Shrink wrap
- Product labels and/or stickers
- Tissue paper or recyclable paper crinkle filler
- Boxes for shipping
Now, there are three things to keep in mind when labeling, packaging, and shipping your bath bombs:
- Avoid moisture. Any amount of moisture will make a bath bomb do what it does best—activate. Obviously, you don’t want this to happen while in-transit, so as soon as you’re ready to package the product, take your bath bomb out of its airtight container and shrink wrap it immediately. Tightly wrapping the bath bomb will lock the moisture out.
Be transparent in your labeling. No matter where you are, labeling requirements ask that you list out all of the ingredients in your bath bombs. While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t require cosmetic companies to break down exactly what they use to add “fragrance” to their products (so as to not give away their proprietary formulation), full transparency will go a long way with your customers.
- Pack your products tightly. Finally, you’ll want to make sure that your bath bombs can’t roll around in the box and bang up against each other. If they do, they’re more likely to break and crumble once your customer unwraps them. Simply stuff the box with tissue paper or paper crinkle filler to separate the bath bombs from each other and keep them snug. As a safety check, close the package and shake it—if you hear a rattle, add more stuffing or tissue to it.
📚 Read more:
- The Beginner’s Guide to Ecommerce Shipping and Fulfillment
- Product Packaging: How Top Brands Delight Customers With Memorable Unboxing Experiences
- 5 Ways to Use Packaging Inserts to Increase Customer Loyalty and Revenue
Marketing your bath bombs
Competing for attention in the bath bomb industry is challenging for emerging brands, so it’s critical that you think through what you want your brand to represent and who your target customer is. Are you creating bath bombs that are intended to spark joy and make bath time fun, or are they more therapeutic in their purpose? The type of brand you choose will impact your upfront costs as well as your prices, your target audience, and your marketing strategy.
Still, there are some general tips and advice for getting more eyeballs on your bath products.
For one thing, bath bombs were made for social selling, so channels like Instagram and Facebook Shops and TikTok are going to be key for you. You can also use a variety of digital marketing tactics to drive traffic to your online store and specific product pages.
Try some of the methods and tips below:
Co-market with a complementary brand. Look to partner with wellness or self-care companies, skincare brands, or beauty brands that align with your values. Consider creating a bundle of products to sell as a package via social media, thereby leveraging each other’s customer base and following.
Influencer marketing. Thousands of independent creators boast millions of views and many make their living promoting other brands or launching their own. If you choose to partner with an influencer, opt for local, lesser-known creators with smaller but engaged audiences who will be affordable to work with.
- Giveaways and contests. Everyone likes free stuff. But giveaways aren’t just great for the winner—they’re an opportunity for you to grow your business. With a little bit of product as a prize and some marketing effort, an online giveaway can help your business acquire new customers.
User-generated content. Bath bombs were made for user-generated content. And while your customers are almost definitely going to document their colorful baths, encourage them to also tag them with your brand or a branded hashtag. This way their followers can easily find you and become your customers, too.
- Push holiday sales and promotions. Bath bombs make excellent gifts for loved ones, and purchases always surge around the holidays—Christmas and Valentine’s Day, in particular. Get creative with colors and scents, and play up seasonal motifs.
📚 Read more:
- Make Money on Instagram
- Learn Email Marketing: Everything from List Building to Advanced Lifecycle Automation
Selling bath bombs IRL
You don’t need to limit yourself to selling online — many makers also successfully sell IRL, too. Selling in person allows you to access a new audience and receive live feedback of your products.
In particular, market booths and pop-up shops give you the opportunity to have a temporary retail location without committing to high storefront rents and long leases. And selling alongside other talented crafters and DIY masters can serve up some serious inspiration for future products as well.
Reasons to consider selling your products offline include:
Get a live product testing ground. You’ll hear direct feedback and questions from your customers. Addressing their concerns live gives merchants invaluable insights on how to improve products or answer customer pain points.
Introduce yourself to potential wholesale clients. Other retailers attend markets and fairs on the prowl for new products for their stores. This is an ideal opportunity for smaller beauty merchants to connect for wholesale deals.
Build an email subscriber list and/or social following from connections you meet at the fair, market, or festival.
- Connect with fellow entrepreneurs, makers, and business owners. It’s never a bad idea to build your network.
While selling offline may sound a bit intimidating, it’s simple to handle transactions while on-the-go by using a mobile point-of-sale system like Shopify POS. It syncs with your online store so your sales, inventory, and customer data is all up-to-date without any manual work on your end.
📚 Read more:
Scaling your brand
Finally, the greatest thing about the bath bomb business is how easy it is to expand your product line after your initial success with bath products. For budding beauty entrepreneurs, you can repurpose the ingredients you use in your bath bombs for skincare, tinctures, soaps, and so many other lucrative products. And it’s an easy transition—the scents are already developed, you just need to create the new product. You can upsell your existing customers based on the scents they buy often, create treatment-centric care packages, and grow your business to new heights.
Ready to start your own bath bomb business?
Now that you have a viable bath bomb business idea and guidance on how to execute on it, you can work toward building a long-term, sustainable income.
Start your free 3-day trial of Shopify—no credit card required.
Illustrations by Alice Mollon and Brenda Wisniowski