Grapefruit Seed Extract
EWG Risk Score:
What is it:
An extract used as a preservative.
Why it's a risk:
Grapefruit Seed extract as a pure extract is harmless. However, the risk with it is that it can be contaminated with other harmful chemicals like methylparaben, triclosan, and benzethonium chloride. When a company uses GSE, they don't have to disclose all of the ingredients inside the extract. Is it an alcohol based extract? Is it in water? Is it in vegetable glycerin? Or is it pure extract? Does it contain preservatives? Companies don't have to tell you, and sometimes they're unaware of the actual ingredients of the extract that's being sold to them. It's used as a preservative, but studies have shown that GSE as a pure extract exhibits no anti-microbial activity, and that it's typically the impurities in the extract that act as a preservative.
Types of products it's found in:
Bar soap, hand cream, moisturizer, conditioner, shampoo, facial cleanser, body washes.
Brands that use this ingredient:
(Note: This list is according to the EWG database. Not all products from these companies contain this ingredient)
Meadowlake Farm Honeybee Products (*See comments below. Meadowlake has confirmed they have tested their GSE for contaminants and assure their customers that it is a pure extract with no chemical contaminants.)
(for the full list, click here)
While it's not the worst ingredient out there, it's not as natural as it sounds. If you're using a product containing GSE, call or write to the manufacturer and find out if they have tested their GSE in a laboratory for contaminants and that they can guarantee to you that it is free from harmful impurities.