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    Bubble & Bee is a signer of the compact for safe cosmetics

    Bubble & Bee will never test on animals.

    There are tens of thousands of chemicals in our everyday personal care products, many of which pose serious health threats.  Xenoestrogens, respiratory toxins, neurotoxins.  We do our own independent research on every chemical that we post so you have the latest information available.


    Sorbitan Olivate

    Today's Chemical:

    Sorbitan Olivate

    EWG Risk Score:


    What is it:

    Sorbitan is a mild surfactant and emulsifier made from sorbitol and olive oil.

    What are its risks:

    Sorbitan olivate is a relativeley new chemical on the market, so there is not much published data on the ingredient.  According to MSDS sheets, however, it is over 90% biodegradeable, defined as non-toxic and non-irritant. 

    Steph's Opinion:

    I have worked with this ingredient before and it actually is a synthetic that I would consider to be safe.  I would consider this to be a better alternative to "vegetable emulsifying wax," which is full of ethoxylated compounds (you can read more about that here.)


    Glucose Oxidase

    Today's Chemical:

    Glucose Oxidase

    EWG Risk Score:


    What is it:

    Glucose Oxidase is actually an enzyme that's naturally present in honey and even on the surface of some fungi.  Glucose oxidase works as a preservative by releasing hydrogen peroxide, which is toxic to bacteria.  (Source)  It is typically used with lactose peroxidase for full preservative effect in a cosmetic formulation.

    Safety Info:

    • According to MSDS sheets, it is an eye irritant, a skin irritant a lung irritant and "prolonged or repeated exposure may lead to irreversible damage to health." (Source)  However, this may not be an accurate risk asessment, as this information applies to the pure powder.  Concentrations of glucose oxidase in a cosmetic formula would be much lower, and thus the risks would be as well. 
    • Toxilogical data for Glucose Oxidase is highly lacking. Here is a screen shot of one MSDS sheet:

    As you can see, "no data available" seems to be a theme with this ingredient. 

    Steph's Opinion:

    I view this ingredient somewhat with caution because of its lack of safety data, and wouldn't recommend it for someone with extremely sensitive skin.  I also find it somewhat concerning because it creates hydrogen peroxide, which creates free radicals on the skin.  (Source)  However, this would be in very small amounts, and the effects may be negated by other ingredients.  But it is still a concerning effect. 




    Todays Chemical:

    Parabens (methylparaben, butylparaben, ethylparaben, benzylparaben, isobutylparaben, propylparaben)

    What is it:

    Parabens are a group of chemicals used as preservatives in lotions, conditioners, shampoos, shower gels, deodorants, etc. 

    Safety/Hazard Data:

    • Although the results have been hotly debated, parabens have been found to accumulate in breast cancer tissue. (Source)  [Critics of this study claim that the samples tested were contaminated during the study.]
    • Parabens are suspected to raise levels of estrogen by interfering with the enzyme that flushes estrogen from the body. This enzyme is found in the skin, lessening counterarguments that parabens are not absorbed in to the body enough to be problematic. (Source)
    • Parabens are absorbed in to the body.  In one study of Danish men, "methyl-, ethyl-, n-propyl- and n-butyl parabens were measurable in 98%, 80%, 98% and 83% of the men, respectively." (Source)  An American study found methyparaben in 99.1% of the study samples.  Women had significantly higher concentrations of parabens, likely due to higher use of personal care products.  Older women had even higher concentrations, likely due to higher absorption rates due to a thinner skin barrier.  (Source)  Another study in Denmark found that urinary concentrations of parabens increased after application of a paraben-containing cream, furthering the evidence that parabens applied dermally are absorbed.  (Source)
    • The European Journal of Cancer Prevention reported that “Frequency and earlier onset of antiperspirant/deodorant usage with underarm shaving were associated with an earlier age of breast cancer diagnosis.” It is possible that the parabens (and other chemicals) in the antiperspirant are to blame for this.

    What type of products is it found in:

    Any water-based formula--conditioner, shampoo, body washes, lotions, hair creams, makeups.

    Brands that use this ingredient:


    Desert Essence

    Peter Thomas

    Derma Pro


    Estee Lauder

    For a full list, click here:

    Steph's Opinion:

    Over the last few years the EWG hazard score of this ingredient has crept from a 4 to an 8.  It seems like the evidence keeps piling up against parabens.  The good news is that a lot of companies are reformulating their products without parabens because the word is getting out.  The bad news is, though, that they're just replacing parabens with other harmful preservatives like diazolidinyl urea and tetrasodium EDTA. 

    For more detailed information about the parabens debate, check out my article here.



    Today's Chemical: 


    EWG Risk Score:


    What is it:

    Panthenol, aka Provitamin B5 is is the alcohol analog of pantothenic acid (vitamin B5).  This means that it's the metabolic precursor for Vitamin B5;  it's inactive until the body metabolizes it.  Panthenol is synthesized from a number of sources including honey, molasses, and rice. (Source) (Source)

    Safety Info:

    • This study found that topical application of panthenol and other forms of vitamin B5 increased healing and supressed free radical formation on skin. 
    • This study found that topical application of panthenol and other vitamins, helped increase skin barrier function, helping to repair and prevent damage from UV rays.

    From the UK Expert Group on Vitamins and Minerals Safety Study:

    Human Studies

    Case reports and some much earlier non-controlled studies describe a lack of acute or chronic toxic effects of pantothenic acid compounds (calcium or sodium pantothenate, panthenol) at very high doses (approximately 10,000 mg/day in some cases for a number of years), although such levels have been associated with diarrhoea and gastrointestinal disturbances. In more recent, controlled studies (generally carried out to assess the potential benefits of pantothenic acid supplementation in specific subgroups, for example, arthritic patients) no side effects have been reported for pantothenic acid supplementation at levels up to approximately 2000 mg/day, for periods of several days to several weeks. However, the small numbers of participants and short duration of these studies limit the value of the data regarding any potential rare or long-term toxic effects.

    One non-blind, non-randomised, non-placebo-controlled trial, designed to investigate the effectiveness of megavitamin therapy in improving the behaviour of 41 children with attention deficit disorder, showed significant increases in serum aspartate transaminase levels (indicative of liver damage) in 17 children after 12 weeks of multivitamin therapy (including doses of calcium pantothenate increasing during the study period to a maximum of 1200 mg/day). This effect may have been associated with the nicotinamide component of the multivitamin supplement, although this could not be confirmed as the vitamins were not given separately.

    Animal data
    Data regarding the toxicity of pantothenic acid and its commonly-used pharmaceutical forms in experimental animals are limited because of the small numbers of animals used in the studies. In the early 1940’s Unna & Greslin reported acute and chronic toxicity tests with D-calcium pantothenate in mice, rats, dogs and monkeys (Unna and Greslin, 1940, 1941). Acute oral LD50 values were very high 􏰁 10,000 mg/kg bw, mice and rats), with lethal doses producing death by respiratory failure. An oral dose of 1000 mg/kg bw produced no toxic signs in dogs or in one monkey. Oral dosing (500 or 2000 mg/kg bw/day to rats, 50 mg/kg bw/day to dogs, 200-250 mg/kg bw/day to monkeys) for 6 months produced no toxic signs or weight loss, or evidence of histopathological changes at autopsy. The offspring of rats supplemented with 500 mg/kg bw/day calcium pantothenate were fed diets supplemented with 500 1 mg/kg bw/day calcium pantothenate from weaning; no evidence of toxicity or reduced weight gain, or histopathological changes were observed. The available data do not indicate reproductive or developmental toxicity of pantothenic acid or its commonly used pharmaceutical forms.

    Carcinogenicity and genotoxicity

    Calcium pantothenate, sodium pantothenate and panthenol were not mutagenic in bacterial tests. No in vivo genotoxicity or carcinogenicity data have been found.


    Steph's Opinion:

    When applied to hair, as in a shampoo or conditioner, panthenol supposedly creates a clear coating on the hair shaft.  This makes the hair appear to be shiny.  Many companies will claim to "repair" or "strengthen" hair with vitamins.  But the silly thing is--they're just coating the hair. Hair is dead.  It can't metabolize vitamins.  Don't be fooled in to thinking that the "provitamins" are nourishing your hair.  At the most it's coating it, but really, it's typically used in combination with dimethicone, which does most of the coating.

    All-in-al, panthenol is not a bad ingredient.  While it may be useless in a shampoo, it can aid in skin healing, and the only known side effects are intestinal upset when digested in large amounts. 



    Borax (Sodium Borate)

    Today's Chemical:

    Sodium Borate (Borax)

    EWG Risk Score:


    What is it?

    Sodium Borate is a mineral salt that's used as an emulsifier, pH adjuster, and slight saponifier. 

    Safety Info:

    • One study of fruit flies showed decreased fertility, lifespan, and reproduction in flies fed small amounts of borax.  However, this study of mining workers who were exposed to borax daily showed no decrease in fertility.  From the studies available, it does not appear to be a human reproductive toxin.  
    • As with most powders, sodium borate can irritate lungs. However, a study of mine workers exposed to sodium borate dust found no long-term effects of exposure.
    • Borax, when ingested in moderate amounts can be toxic.  Moderate doses can impair immune function.  (Source.)
    • Minute amounts of borax have been found to be absorbed through the skin.  (Source.)
    • One interesting study found that DNA mutations caused by Titanium dioxide were significantly reduced by the presence of Sodium Borate. 

    Steph's Opinion:

    While borax can be a lung irritant while in powder form, and a skin irritant on sensitive skin, and an ingredient one would avoid ingesting, there appears to be no long-term health effects from small exposures, such as would be in a lotion or cream or laundry detergent.

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