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    Visit our friends at Lovely Safe Mama for great product suggestions, product recall notices, and information.

    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.

    Monday
    Jun212010

    Salicylic Acid

    Today's Chemical:

    Salicylic Acid

    EWG Risk Score:

    7

    What is it:

    Salicylic acid is a weak acid that is typically synthetically produced.  Also known as beta-hydroxy acid, it's used in anti-aging, anti-acne, and other skin care treatments. 

    Safety Info:

    • Many studies have shown Salicylic acid to cause developmental abnormalities during pregnancy.  Most of these studies, however, pertain to salicylic acid being taken internally.  No studies of the reproductive/developmental effects of external/dermal applicaion are available. (Source) (Source) (Source) (Source)
    • Salicylic acid is an phenolic aromatic hydrocarbon.  This is the same class of chemicals as BPA and other estrogen mimiking compounds.  (Source) According to a 1973 RTECs study, salicylic acid does act as a xenoestrogen.  More recent studies are not available on the subject.   
    • The FDA advises that because salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid that removes dead skin cells and reveals newer cells, it can increase one's suseptibility to UV radiation.  They suggest that sunscreen or sunblock ingredients be used with any product containing salicylic acid to counteract the damaging effects of UV radiation.  The FDA is studying the long-term effects of salicylic acid (Source)

    Types of products it's in:

    Anti-aging creams, anti-acne creams, toners, scalp treatments, exfoliants and scrubs

    Some brands that use this ingredient:

    Olay

    Coppertone

    Alba

    Nature's Gate

    Aveeno

    Avalon Organics

    Steph's Opinion:

    More studies need to be done on the possible estrogenic and developmental effects of salicylic acid when applied to skin.  Because of my personal suseptibility to xenoestrogens and the phenolic chemical structure of this compound, I avoid salicylic acid. 

    Salicylic acid can be helpful against acne in the short term, it only covers up the symptoms and doesn't get to the root cause of acne (hormonal imbalances, dietary intolerances etc, lack of omega-3 fatty acids.)   Popular acne treatments like Proactiv use salicylic acid, and while they may help to dry up blemishes, as soon as one stops using the product, they come back.  If you're really trying to treat acne, visit a skilled naturopathic physician to get to the actual cause of the acne and treat it from within with dietary changes and supplementation. 

    Monday
    Apr262010

    Benzoic Acid

    Today's Chemical:

    Benzoic Acid

    EWG Risk Score:

    3-4

    What is it:

    Benzoic acid is a weak acid that's used as a preservative.  It's naturally ocurring in many fruits in trace amounts.  The largest natural source of benzoic acid is from the gum of the Chinese Balsam tree, called gum benzoin. Gum benzoin is typically 13-20% benzoic acid. 

    Safety Info:

    • Current research has not found it to act estrogenically when ingested (Source) However, see my note below.
    • Some animal tests have shown it to be a developmental neurotoxin at high doses (Source)
    • It is considered safe only at less than a .1% concentration in a finished product (Source)
    • When benzoic acid and vitamin C (ascorbic acid) or citric acid are present, under the right conditions of heat and light, these two ingredients can combine to create the known carcinogen, benzene.   (Source)
    • Sodium benzoate is the sodium salt of benzoic acid, so the safety data for benzoic acid and sodium benzoate are similar. 

    Type of products it's in:

    Toothpastes, moisturizers, sunscreen, makeup, body wash, mouthwash

    Some brands that use this ingredient:

    (According to EWG; please review all product labels for up-to-date information) 

    Jason

    Avalon

    Pharmacopia

    Listerine

    Kiss My Face

    Biotene

    Nature's Gate

    Tom's of Maine

    Steph's Opinion:

    I am personally still concerned about benzoic acid being a weak estrogen mimicker.  Because of its benzene ring structure, it has the potential to fit in to our body's estrogen receptors.  The studies that showed it wasn't estrogenic was when it was fed to rats, but not applied on their skin.  Parabens aren't estrogenic when you eat them, but are problematic when applied to skin because they interfere with an enzyme called SULT that helps flush estrogen out of the body. Continued application of parabens and other estrogen mimicking chemicals on your skin can actually raise estrogen levels through this mechanism. There have been no studies on the estrogenic activity of benzoic acid when applied to skin, so I still view this ingredient with caution. 

    Additionally, it should not be used in a product containing ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and citric acid.  Over time these ingredients can react and form traces of benzene, a known carcinogen. 

    NOTE: Benzoic acid is not parahydroxy benzoic acid. 

    Parahydroxy benzoic acid looks like this

    Benzoic acid looks like this.Notice the parahydroxy benzoic acid contains an additional hydroxyl group (an extra OH group).  Parahydroxy benzoic acid has been studied and is known to act estrogenically.  (Source)  For more about parahydroxy benzoic acid, read our article about Japanese Honeysuckle Extract here.

     

    Friday
    Apr092010

    Vaseline Sheer Infusion

    A beautiful commercial that's so inspiring it almost gives you chills, doesn't it?  Well, let's take a look at Vaseline Sheer Infusion and see exactly what they're "infusing" in to your body's largest organ.

    Water is the first ingredient.  The product is probably 70 to 80 percent water.  Sure, it's going to give you a nice hydrating feeling when you first put it on, but most of that water will evaporate, and cause you to feel like you need more lotion.  Additionally, because of the water, they have to use lots of preservatives to keep the formula from growing mold and bacteria. 

    Fragrance  In the middle of the list is "parfum."  Because it's in the middle of the list, we can tell it contains a high amount of synthetic fragrance.   "Fragrance" or "parfum" can be a combination of a number of over 3000 chemicals, so you really don't know what chemicals you're dealing with.  The largest concern with "fragrance" is that it can contain high amounts of estrogen-mimicking compounds called phlalates.  In addition to throwing off the body's delicate hormonal balance, many phlalate compounds are suspected or known carcinogens.   

    Phenoxyethanol a preservative that's potentially an estrogen mimicker. 

    PEG-12 Short for polyethylene glycol, PEG is an ethoxylated compound, meaning it was synthesized using the known carcinogen ethylene oxide.  Products containing PEGs can contain traces of this chemical and its carcinogenic by-product, 1,4-dioxane. 

    Methylparaben and Propylparaben are known estrogen mimickers that can disrupt hormone function in the body and are being studied for their link to breast and other reproductive cancers. 

    Full ingredients list:

    Agua. Glycerin, Isopropylmyristate, Dihydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Cetearyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Stearate, Tapioca Starch, Dimethicone, Triethyl Citrate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Mineral Water/Eau Minerale, Parfum, Cyclopentasiloxane, Hydroxyethyl Urea, Sodium Cetearyl Sulfate, Phenoxyethanol, PEG-12, Dimethicone, Cetyl Palmitate, Sorbitan Olivate, Sorbitan Palmitate, Dimethiconol, Disodium EDTA, Methylparaben, Propylparaben.

    The bottom line is that no matter how many millions of marketing dollars they put behind it, no matter how nice the product may feel on your skin, Vaseline Sheer Infusion is a chemical cocktail of potentially estrogen-mimicking compounds with compounds that may have traces of carcinogens. 

    Because all water-based lotions have the problem of needing preservatives, we recommend natural or certified organic lotions with no water, such as these:

    Bubble & Bee Organic Body Butta

    Trillium Organics Organic Body Butter

    Nature's Shea  (Shea butters only, not their liquid lotions)

    Oracle Organics

     

    Thursday
    Mar182010

    BHT (Butylated Hydroxy Tolulene)

    Today's Chemical:

    BHT (Butylated Hydroxytolulene)

    What is it:

    A fat-soluble anti-oxidant and preservative in foods, cosmetics, and industrial compounds.

    Why it's a risk:

    • When the body metabolizes BHT, it creates free radicals in your body that can create damage to cell's DNA (Source, Source)  
    • One study found that it works both to promote and inhibit tumors, depending on what other chemicals are present in the body. (Source)
    • Is known to be an estrogen mimicker.  (Source)
    • Is known to penetrate the skin (Source)
    • Carries a small risk of skin sensitization or allergic reaction (Source)

    Types of products it's in:

    Lipstick, eyeshadow, lip gloss, foundation, moisturizers, lip balm

    A few brands that use BHT:

    ColoreScience

    Neutrogena

    Degree

    Irish Spring

    Dial

    Revlon

    L'occtane

    Cover Girl

    Pysicians Formula

    Steph's Opinion:

    Some ingredients I'm kind of on the fence about.  This is not one of them.  This is definitely an ingredient that I personally avoid, especially because of its risk of being a xenoestrogen, because it's fat soluble, and because it's proven to be absorbed through the skin.

    Thursday
    Mar182010

    Sodium Benzoate

    Today's Chemical:

    Sodium Benzoate

    EWG Risk Score:

    2

    What is it:

    Sodium Benzoate is a preservative.

    Safety Info:

    • Known to be a neurotoxin to aquatic animals.  (Source)
    • Is toxic/lethal at high doses in humans.  (Source)
    • Animal studies have shown some developmental abnormalities (Source)
    • Rats and mice given moderate doses of sodium benzoate showed decreased weight and some endocrine disruption (Source) however, at low doeses there were no effects.
    • Animal studies have shown it to be toxic to the liver at moderate doses (Source)
    • When combined with vitamin C (ascorbic acid) or citric acid, it forms benzene, a known carcinogen.  This is a common problem in soft drinks. 
    • One study found that sodium benzoate created free radicals in the body, destorying mitochondrial DNA, adding to the body's aging process.  (Source)

    Type of products it's in:

    Shampoo, conditioner, body wash, face and body lotions, mouthwash

    Some Brands that use this ingredient:

    MyChelle

    Oblige by Nature

    Kiss my Face

    Jason

    Aveeno

    Alba

    Steph's Opinon:

    I am somewhat wary of this ingredient, however, after sifting through hundreds of studies, I haven't found much evidence that it acts that way.  It seems as though the body is able to break it down easily and flush out of the system.  Studies have deemed it safe as used in cosmetic applications because it's used in small amounts.  However, some people may be sensitive to it, and if you are hormonally sensitive or imbalanced, I would limit your exposure as much as you can.   Additionally, make sure that there is no Vitamin C present with it, as it can form the carcinogen benzene in its presence.    The bottom line is, avoid it if you can, but if you can't find a safer alternative, it's safe in limited amounts.  In foods, definitely avoid it.  If you've eaten something with vitamin C, and then eat something with sodium benzoate, it can create benzene in your body.