Here’s Why Hotel Bath Products May Be Bad For Your Skin

The Londoner, Deluxe King_Credit Andrew Beasley (8)

Hotel bath products may be bad for your skin. It’s sad but true. Thankfully, it really depends on the ingredients in the bath product. More hotels are going toward organic ingredients, while some hotels are sticking to cheaper, mass-produced bath toiletries that are chockfull of parabens and chemicals. Here’s what you need to know when you’re checking into a hotel.

We first reported that hotel bath products may be bad for your skin in 2020, since it’s one thing hotel guests steal from the hotel room. While in fact, it’s not stealing since it’s free and complimentary to the room, some people consider it “stealing.” But whether you take it or not is a whole other story, and it’s best you read the ingredients before using it or taking it home with you for future use.

Hotel bath products can damage your skin

Aqua di Parma hotel bath amenities

The bath products in a hotel room look super friendly. They could look and smell amazing, but in more cases than not, these bath products can be full of chemicals and synthetic ingredients, primarily sulfates, fragrance and parabens. These chemicals are known to be unhealthy for your hair and skin, and there are many reasons why — especially when you break down the ingredients.

If you look at the ingredients of a hotel bathroom product, you’ll generally notice sulfates high on the list. Sulfates are essentially detergents, meaning they can leave your skin or hair dry, especially if there’s a high concentration. You’ll find them in the form of sodium laurel sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate, which are the ingredients you should look for when reading the label. These ingredients are one of the top reasons why hotel bath products may be bad for your skin if you use them.

Also, don’t be fooled by the scent of the product. It’s generally a “fragrance,” which is a synthetic, engineered chemical “scent” (as opposed to a natural, essential oil that’s used in beauty products). A fragrance “can be an irritating, leading to redness, itchy skin and sometimes hives,” says Dr. Diane Madfes, a dermatologist for Garnier. A fragrance is cheaper to add versus an essential oil, so it’s more practical for hotels to buy mass-produced in-room toiletries to offer their guests. Hotels can save a buck or two.

The other ingredient you may notice are parabens. Parabens are chemical preservatives that are known to irritate skin, dry out skin and may potentially lead to health problems. The latter is of significant debate, though there have been studies showing they alter hormone mechanisms in our body. It’s why most brands now tout being ‘paraben free.’ So many people have learned parabens are not great for your body.

Always read the label

A designer label on hotel bath toiletries can seem attractive and impressive, like any other product on the market, but be sure to leave the label and fine print to get an idea of what you’re putting on your body or in your hair. Remember, these hotel bath products may be bad for your skin, so you don’t want to take chances! Another tip? If you can’t pronounce the ingredient, it’s usually a chemical that’s not great for you (not in all cases, but a good rule of thumb). If the strange words appear at the top of the ingredient list, it means it’s super potent.

Here’s an example. The shower gel from Aqua Di Parma, a high-end beauty brand from Italy used by many luxury hotels. The packaging is great, and it looks harmless, until you read what’s actually in it. Aqua Di Parma shower gel comprises ingredients that are mostly chemicals. There are no natural extracts or oils. Notice how fragrance and a sulfate are the top, then castor oil (WOW) and other chemicals.

Aqua di Parma hotel shower gel

BYO bath products when traveling

I recommend bringing your own products when you travel. Always look for paraben-free, sulfate-free and fragrance-free when you’re choosing a skincare product. Not all of your favorite products will be completely idea, and it’s OK, as long as inferior ingredients are listed at the very bottom of the list. This is a great way to avoid hotel bath products that may be bad for your skin.

Also, it’s OK if you don’t go full organic with your skincare products. There are many brands that mix science with nature, and that’s fine, but always read the label of ingredients before you use a product just to be on the safe side.

I like Beauty Counter. The brand has travel-size kits for both men and women (face wash, moisturizer, body wash, shampoos, etc), and the website offers a comprehensive ingredient list, so you know exactly what goes in their products.

IS clinical Extreme protect
IS clinical Extreme protect

I’m also a huge fan of IS Clinical for face, if you want a reliable skincare brand. You can read my review of the SPF here. If you’d like, you can also purchase IS Clinical SPF 30 on Amazon. Here’s a link.

More stories:

6 luxury hotels that make their own skincare line

4 famous road trips to take in America

10 best luxury resorts in the world – ranked by Travelbinger

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Jimmy Im has traveled to 113 countries, stayed in over 600 hotels and has flown a million airmiles. He lives in New York City.

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