Behind the label: Radox Herbal Bath with Juniper

Overrun with shower gels that claim to firm and tone, cream baths that turn back the clock and body scrubs that detox and purify, the shelves of the average supermarket and pharmacy could be mistaken for those of a specialist spa or beauty parlour. Modern marketing contrives to make us believe that taking a bath or shower is an ‘experience’ rather than a personal hygiene fundamental, and that bath-time products are indulgent treats with emotional benefits. More often than not we believe it.


Aqua, sodium laureth sulphate, sodium chloride, cocamidopropyl betaine, parfum, Juniperus communis, ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate, tetrasodium EDTA, ethoxydiglycol, dipropylene glycol, citric acid, sodium lactate, butylene glycol, butylphenyl methylpropional, alphaisomethyl ionone, benzyl salicylate, coumarin, limonene, linalool, sodium benzoate, methylchloroisothiazolinone, methylisothiazolinone,
CI 47005, CI 42090, CI 15985


Almost uniquely in shower-loving Europe, the average Briton is a bath lover. Yet soaking in a bath full of bubbles has unspoken risks. Soaking in any bath product will prolong its contact with your skin. Hot water also increases the skin’s permeability and helps vaporise chemicals so that they are more easily inhaled. Of all the bath products available, bubble baths, which contain strong detergents
and fragrances, have the greatest potential to cause skin irritation, allergic skin reactions and headaches.

But bubble baths can irritate more than just your skin. Regular bubble bath use is associated with a high rate of urogenital infections. Harsh detergents can strip away protective oils from sensitive areas of skin and the mucous which lines the genito-urinary tract. This allows bacteria to take hold. Children are particularly vulnerable, and bubble baths are a major cause of urogenital infections in babies. In the US children’s bubble baths are now obliged to carry a warning advising that prolonged use can cause skin and urinary tract irritation.

Radox is arguably the best known, and most trusted, of UK bath additives. The range is a subsidiary of the giant US corporation Sara Lee, which also owns Sanex and Badedas. In the UK, the bathing market, which includes bath additives, shower gels and soaps, is worth £665m a year and counting; bath additives account for approximately £150m of this. We buy more bottles of Radox than any other bath additive.

But what do we get for our money? Radox Herbal Bath Relax contains harsh skin irritants, potential carcinogens and reproductive toxins, hormone and central nervous system (CNS) disrupters. Several of its ingredients are penetration enhancers: chemicals that alter skin structure, allowing other chemicals to penetrate more deeply into the skin and the bloodstream.

The whole Radox range has recently been reformulated and expanded using aromatherapy as the selling point. While Radox Herbal Bath Relax does contain natural juniper extract, it is largely based on synthetic perfumes, which cannot claim the same therapeutic effects as natural essential oils and may even be harmful.

In addition to ‘parfum’ (industry code for a compound comprised of several unnamed perfume ingredients), the mixture contains five individual perfume ingredients which can be strongly irritant and have been shown to cause a range of health problems in other
animals. Amazingly, this product also contains a sunscreen – to protect the product, not the person. It’s hard to see how anyone could ‘relax’ while soaking in a mixture like this.


You can’t make a bubble bath without harsh synthetics, so natural alternatives are scarce. But try some of the following options.

Epsom salts or sea salt can be therapeutic and skin-conditioning. But beware of artificial colours and perfumes in commercial brands. The same goes for bath bombs: bath-salt mixtures with an extra bicarbonate of soda fizz. Blend unperfumed salts with your own essential oils, or try buying from:

More than Soap

Soap Around the Corner

Dissolved in milk, these will disperse easily in the bath. Organic essential oils can be sourced from:

Absolute Aroma
Neal’s Yard Remedies

NHR Organic Oils



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