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Children's Line--Impossible Ingredients. 

The more I write about, the more I find! Today, here's a children's bubble bath with another impossible ingredients list! 

Sounds like a fairly "clean" product but there's a couple big questions here...

What's making this product lather? 

The only ingredient here that is a cleansing agent is the Saponaria Officinalis Leaf Extract, aka, soapwort root. I've worked with soapwort before. Quite a bit, actually. Back in 2006 when I started formulating for our company, the first product that I wanted to make was a soapwort shampoo. Try as I might, no matter how much boiling, no matter how much I used, while the solution did create some bubbles and cleaned my hair, it never created what one would call a lather. As a bubble bath? Even more impossible. It would take a full bottle of soapwort shampoo to get my hair clean--adding a tablespoon of it to a bath to make bubbles? Even more impossible. 

None of the other extracts or ingredients on the list would produce a lather. 

So...I went ahead and ordered the product. One of the tests I do when I investigate products like this--don't laugh at me--is to actually taste the product. Tasting enables me to instantly detect if there's a soap or detergent in a product, and I can tell you, there's definitely a detergent in this product.

Just touching my tongue to the product, my mouth was filled with detergent taste that was hard to rinse out!  

One thing that I also like to rule out is the presence of soap. It's unlikely in the first place that it's true soap, as soap is pretty difficult to use as a bubble bath. As many of you have probably experienced before--when you put a castile soap in the water, what does it do? Well, it doesn't foam up--it just turns the water milky. Still, I always like to rule it out with a pH test. This product was a perfectly neutral 7. I also noticed that it contains citric acid. So, something with an acid added, but with a neutral pH, had to be alkaline to start out with. True soap is alkaline, but if you neutralize it with an acid, it turns to mush. Soapwort root extract is neutral in solution, so if you added citric acid to it, the overall pH would end up being acidic. The only thing that would be alkaline and able to be neutralized with a weak acid like citric acid would be some kind of synthetic detergent. Not that all detergents are "bad," but how are we supposed to assess safety without knowing? 

Another thing I noticed--usually soapwort root extract will create a brownish liquid, kind of like soapnut liquid. This formula is perfectly crystal clear with no color. If there was somehow just a super-strong concentration of soapwort root, the formula would be brown. 

The second big question I have here is about the scent. It is STRONG.  

I have a pretty good nose for synthetic fragrance and this seems to be synthetically fragranced. They could be using some natural scent extracts that are just really strong, but it didn't seem like it to me. The scent lingers long after your skin is dry--indicative of synthetic fragrance. Now, this is just based on my own sensory experience, not any testing data. Perhaps it's the linden flower extract, which I've never smelled before. 

This company also has a children's shampoo that I ordered. The smell seems to be more natural, but also, no detergent listed, despit the ability to create lather. It has a similar ingredients listing to the bubble bath. Their conditioner/detangler also doesn't add up:

Here we have water-based ingredients and oils, but nothing that would emulsify the two together. Putting all of these things in a bottle together would be a separated mess. (But hey, at least they listed a preservative so at least they weren't hiding that.) 

Strike two comes with the incredible "slip" this product imparts, indicating the possibility of quaternary ammonium compounds or possibly silicones. 

I understand things happen--mistakes and miscommunication can happen between graphics design and the lab. Sometimes if a company isn't their own manufacturer, they'll even get an incomplete ingredients list from their manufacturing lab. (Trying to give them the benefit of the doubt here.) Again, I'll keep the name of the company to myself so the other company doesn't come after me with pitchforks. The takeaway here isn't that this is a bad company and you should avoid all of their products. But when you find an ingredients list that seems to be really good, always think about how the product functions and its physical properties when compared to the ingredients list. Because sometimes it doesn't add up! 

Reader Comments (18)

Do you have any suggestions for bubble bath? My daughter LOVES bubbles but we never do them because of this.

Fri, February 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMorgan

I respect your effort and appreciate the info you provide to us, but is there any way possible, that you can reveal each company you target in your posts? Why the secrecy? If you go to the extreme to investigate these products/ lines, I think your audience ( at least I want to know...anyone else agree?) would like details. We want names! Thank you!

Fri, February 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth

Thank you for the information, Stephanie. It's truly disheartening to hear, however, because you just need to be able to trust companies that seem to have your best interest in mind (at least we hope so). We are trying to be healthy and be careful for our children and grandchildren, and this doesn't help matters. If you can't trust the label....aargh! I always appreciate your research into things and am grateful for all of your help!

P.S. Is there any company/products out there for babies and children that you would endorse?

Fri, February 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBonnie

We use Rainbow Research Organic Herbal Bubble Bath For Kids Berry Banana Blast. Not sure if safe.

Here are the ingredients: Purified water, lauryl glucoside (corn), decyl glucoside (corn), cocamidopropyl betaine (coconut), sodium myreth sulfate (coconut/palm), sodium chloride, sodium etidronate (chelating agent), phenoxytol (green tea extract), organic extracts of: marigold, chamomile, soy, lemon grass & aloe vera. tocopheryl acetate (vitamin E), natural fragrances, and grapefruit seed extract.

Fri, February 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterCristina

Are we able to send you products to test?

Fri, February 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterZulma

Here is a trick for revealing the company name: If you do an internet search for the ingredients list -- just paste the entire list into the search box -- both the product and company names show up in the search results!

Fri, February 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterApril

Elizabeth - Copy and paste the ingredients into Google. The company comes up in the search results.

Fri, February 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKelly

I copied and pasted the entire ingredients list from this blog into a Google search box. A children's bubble bath product came up as the first hit. Try it if you want to know what the name of the product is. Stephanie doesn't want to be accused of slandering anyone and I don't blame her for that.

Fri, February 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDianaMac

@Elizabeth--yes, DianaMac is right--I'm trying to avoid being accused of "shaming and naming" and making it more about the ingredients and education. :)

@Zulma--Sure! Email me first, though with an ingredients list and I'll first be able to tell if it adds up from there.

@Cristina--This one wouldn't meet my recommendations because of the ethoxylated chemical (sodium myreth sulfate), the cocamidopropyl betaine and the grapefruit seed extract.

@Morgan--we don't have a children's bubble bath yet...but stay tuned!

Fri, February 20, 2015 | Registered Commenter[Stephanie Greenwood]

Interestingly, in the description of the product (the one that matches the ingredients list in Stephanie's blog) the description says "Coconut is the source of the bubbles for this all natural foam bath." Yet, there is no coconut in the ingredients list. So basically, although it does not say that this is a list of "key ingredients" as do some other supposedly organic and natural products, it must BE an incomplete list of ingredients since they say in the description that coconut is the foaming agent. It has been my experience that when a company does not want to share the complete list of ingredients, they will instead post a list of key ingredients which allows them to keep the unnatural and nonorganic or possibly harmful ingredients off the list. That way you'll think the product is pure and safe even when it is possibly not. In other words, one way to present a product as natural or organic is to not mention the undesirable ingredients. This is what I believe is referred to as "green washing."

Sat, February 21, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDianaMac

@DianaMac--Great catch! That proves even further that this is not a complete ingredients list!

Sat, February 21, 2015 | Registered Commenter[Stephanie Greenwood]

@DianaMac--Interested which website you saw coconut oil in the description? Their main website says "Soapwort Extract is the source of the bubbles for this all natural foam bath."

Incomplete ingredients make me crazy. I have an aloe allergy. This ingredient may seem very benign, but it is in Everything and I know it is in products that aloe has been omitted from the ingredients list....for sure!

Thanks for all that you do Stephanie!

Mon, February 23, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKathy

Care to evaluate mine?:

diammonium lauryl sulfosuccinate
lauramidopropyl betaine (+ palmitamidopropyl betaine if I could get it affordably)
disodium laureth sulfosuccinate

The above in water sol'n with the HCHO donors the surfactant sol'ns were supplied with, along w some byproduct NaCl, traces of bisulfites (from sulfosuccinate mfr. after peroxide oxid'n) + leftover lauryl alcohol.

Mon, May 25, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRobert

What do you think of these ingredients?
Organic Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe) Leaf Juice*, Purified Water (Agua), Sodium Laurylglucosides Hydroxypropyl Sulfonate (Sugar Soap), Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate (Coconut), Lauryl Glucosides Betaine Crosspolymer (Coconut & Corn), Glycerine (Vegetable), Polyquaternium 80 (Sugar), Hydrolyzed Corn Starch, Glucono Delta Lactone (Sugar), Linum Usitatissimum (Linseed) Seed Extract, Polyquaternium 10 (Vegetable Fiber), Cucumber (Cucumis Sativus) Extract, Organic Calendula Officinalis Extract*, Organic Anthemis Nobilis (Chamomile) Flower Extract*, Organic Nasturtium Officinale (Watercress) Extract*, Organic Pueraria Lobata (Kudzu) Root Extract*, Potassium Sorbate (food grade preservative), Natural Essential Oil Blend, Chlorophyl (plants).

Sat, July 16, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMaia

Maia, I find the parenthetic "descriptions" or "explanations" of some of those ingredients "interesting"!

Sat, August 13, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRobert

someone asked about a bubble bath they suggest. bubble and bee makes one that I use and have never had a reaction nor has the little one (he was over 2 when I used it, though she doesn't really suggest it, i'm always there and he never drinks the water). i'd love different scents but I know she's working on it ;)

Fri, July 21, 2017 | Unregistered Commenteraj

Thanks for this post, I know exactly which product line you are describing because I bought it for my kids because the EWG Skin Deep site gives it an excellent rating. I agree with all of your comments, the foaming ability, color, smell. It doesn’t make any sense! Not only that, this is super expensive. For the shampoo, conditioner, hand soap and bubble bath I paid about 70 bucks plus tax and shipping. I feel totally lied to!! Can’t I please reveal the name? *Gabriel cosmetics clean kids naturally* The Environmental Working Group is a well respected nonprofit that a lot of people rely on for honest information. It’s unfortunate that they do not properly vet the products they rate for safety.

Sat, October 20, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRadha

Thank you for all that you do. I find your work fascinating and informative. Please keep up the good work. ☺

Thu, January 31, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle

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