What is Polysorbate 80: Why is it Used in Bath Bombs?

what is polysorbate 80 in bath bombs

There are many ingredients that can be used for bath bombs, and frankly it seems everyone has slightly different "essential" ingredients to add to the mix. If you plan on making your very own bath bombs, you probably want to know what to put in this DIY project. 

You have likely thought about what scents and colors you will place in your bath bomb, right? 

Several of the ingredients like, citric acid, baking soda, and Epson salts, many people are familiar with, and know that they are relatively harmless considering most of us have these in our homes already, even some for cooking,

However, we would assume that most people have never heard of polysorbate 80. So what in the world is this ingredient anyways? 

The fact is, not every bath bomb needs polysorbate 80 in the recipe, it depends on several factors. 

What is Polysorbate 80?

What exactly is polysorbate 80? Polysorbate 80 can be a fairly important ingredient when making bath bombs. Polysorbate 80 comes in a liquid form (rather viscous), and is an amber to golden color. It is a synthetic emulsifier that helps dissolve substances. It is actually used in foods, medicine, and vaccines as well as cosmetics. 

Why Polysorbate 80 in Bath Bombs?

Polysorbate 80 is used in many bath and beauty products for many different reasons, but in particular as it has to do with bath bombs, it helps for the oils and colors used in bath bombs to disperse more evenly. 

Have you ever used a bath bomb that either the color pooled at the top of the water or it created a terrible ring around the tub? Polysorbate 80 helps to prevent that. 

polysorbate 80 helps disperse colorants

Some colorants, mica's in particular, that many DIYers or people selling bath bombs use, will create this ring of color around the tub. When polysorbate 80 is added to the bath bombs it helps distribute or disperse these colorants better in the water, preventing this issue. 

It does a similar thing with the oils used as well. Oils used in bath bombs can potentially be a safety concern, because they tend to make the bottom of the tub slippery. However, oils can also have a wonderful effect on the skin, so many bath bomb makers include them in their recipe. Polysorbate 80 helps to disperse the oils as well. 

In our experience, however, if you are one to use a considerable amount of oils in bath bombs the bottom of the tub almost always will become slippery even when polysorbate 80 is used, so be mindful of that!

If you don't want to have to deal with the ring from the colorant, you can try and use water soluble colorants. These include, for us anyways, bath certified dyes, (which typically have to be bloomed) for use. Their are some water soluble "lake" colorants as well, but the majority of them are oil soluble.  

There are other liquid colorants you can find on the market that don't need the polysorbate 80, however if you're including any oils in your bath bombs, polysorbate 80 should still be used!

Usage Rate: Typical usage rate in bath bombs is around 2-5%, & Lotion usage rate is1-5%

Final Thoughts!

Like most other things bath & beauty related, it's important to test out percentages of polysorbate 80 dependent on the rates of other ingredients in your bath bombs, like colorants and oil usage. 

Please share your thoughts or experience using polysorbate 80 in bath bombs, lotions, baths oils or even in bath sprays that you've had success with or experimented with. Let other DIYers know what works. As always, make sure to get your ingredients from reputable sources and companies!


- https://www.steampoweredfamily.com/activities/how-to-make-bath-bombs/

- https://diybeautybase.com/polysorbate-80-bath-bombs/


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