The year is 1989. It’s springtime in southern England, and Mo Constantine is creating a product that will change the world of bathing forever.
Working in her garden shed, she mixes together citric acid, sodium bicarbonate and a blend of essential oils into a small press and voila: the bath bomb is born.
33 years later, the bath bomb has evolved into a worldwide phenomenon, adding fizz, fun, aromatherapy and skincare benefits to baths everywhere. From show-stopping kaleidoscopes of color, whizzing wonders that brighten and uplift and softening soothers that calm and relax, bath bombs have delighted and inspired millions, fought for peace and change, and brought about a cosmetic revolution from which there’s no turning back.
“Everything you see today with the bath bombs has been evolved considerably from scratch” explains Mo, co-founder of Lush and inventor of the bath bomb. “It’s madness really.”
So, what inspired the first bath bomb? Apart from wanting a product to elevate bathtime without irritating sensitive skin, inspiration came in the unlikely form of antacid pill Alka Seltzer. This famous hangover tablet would erupt into fizzy bubbles once dropped into a glass of water. Intrigued, Mo couldn’t resist heading to the local pharmacy to find out more. “After a bit of experimenting, we realized what you could do and made our first solid thing. It was really quite fun!”
In tribute to the fizzing tablets that inspired her, Mo’s first bath bombs were dubbed Aqua Sizzlers and looked like oversized versions of the original Alka Seltzer tablets. She added calming French lavender, and the resulting bath bomb fizzed in the tub, softening the water and relaxing the body and mind.
Mo began to experiment with different shapes, sizes and colors to create an exciting range of fizzers and foamers with her husband and Lush co-founder Mark Constantine.
“We were up and down the high street, buying different shaped jelly moulds, anything,” she remembers. “In the garden center, Mark was saying ‘What are you looking at, why have you got that pond mold upside down?’, and I’m just looking at its contours thinking I can probably press something in that!”
However exciting their shape or color, the body and mind benefits of bath bombs remained a core element of their creation. Their effervescent nature proved a perfect carrier for essential oils into bath water, so Mo and Mark began to explore infusing different oils to bring different benefits to the bath.
During this time, long-time favorites like Avobath and Butterball were born. By infusing the bath bomb mix with select essential oils and moisturizing ingredients like olive oil and cocoa butter, the aromatherapy and skincare benefits combined to leave the mood enhanced and the skin decadently soft.
In 1995, the launch of Lush allowed the founders and inventors to make waves with more creative freedom than ever before, alongside the chance to really focus on the ethics and issues close to their hearts. Concerned with its environmental impact, they decided to strip back the packaging that had previously enveloped the bath bombs. Mo say, “there was only one course to take, and that was to make the bath bombs more beautiful and naked.”
By doing so, the bath bomb itself was transformed into a work of art. Mo looked for new ways to turn her creations into masterpieces, like adding glitter and colored sea salt to catch the bathers’ eye before it’d even gone into the water.
So what’s next? “The inspiration is ongoing,” Mo explains. “Someone asks you ‘where did you get your inspiration?’ and I always want to say it was in that dusty corner where you haven't looked for years!”
Mo’s relaxing bath bombs have inspired millions, but none more so than her son Jack Constantine, Lush digital director. Jack and his siblings were brought up around Mo’s exciting prototypes and witnessed first-hand the magical concoctions she would bring out from her garden shed. So, when Jack turned to bath bomb invention, it was Mo’s guiding hand and secret tips and tricks that would inspire a new generation of technicolor bath bombs. With multi-layered rainbow sensations and the first-ever bath bomb concept store in Harajuku, Japan, the bath bomb’s evolution shows no sign of slowing down.
33 years after the original, Mo’s invention has led to an innovation in bathing across the globe.