Another instance of greenwashing? A Beautiful Life “All Natural” Nail Lacquers

Okay, I suppose I’m going to piss of yet another company. And a PR person too.

But I really, really don’t like fake “all natural” claims.

I got a PR pitch for an “all natural” nail lacquer. Which excited me. I’m always excited to learn about new natural products especially when it comes to a relatively tough product like nail polish.

So, I read the email PR pitch and noted that it said “all natural” nail lacquer. I then checked the attached one pager on the product, and it also said “all natural.” Finally, I checked the website, and it says the nail lacquers offer “amazing wear and incredible colors – WITHOUT any of the nasty chemicals. They’re even safe for kids!” A review by Beauty Snob repeats the “all natural” claim, and enthuses that the polish is worth the price because of the ingredients.

So, of course I look for the ingredients – and they are right on the website for A Beautiful Life Natural Nail Lacquer:

butyl acetate, ethyl acetate, nitrocellulose, acetyl tributyl citrate, glycols copolymer, isopropyl alcohol, stearalkonium hectorite, adipic acid/fumatic acid/phthalic acid/tricyclodecane dimethanol copolymer, citric acid and colors, which may contain: D&C Red #6 Barium Lake, D&C Red #7 Calcium Lake, etc.

For each of the ingredients, an oh-so-helpful description is provided, which makes it sound like each one of the ingredients is naturally sourced without actually saying that it is. Take butyl acetate. It says “an organic compound common [sic] used as a solvent. Colorless, soluble found in many types of fruit.” Well, it is true that butyl acetate is found in many types of fruit – apples get their flavoring in part from butyl acetate. But it does not mean that this ingredient comes from fruit – butyl acetate is not derived from fruit for industrial production. Butyl acetate is manufactured by a chemical reaction (esterification) of a butanol isomer and acetic acid in the presence of sulfuric acid as a catalyst. I’ve asked the PR person which isomer of butyl acetate is used, or, more importantly, which isomer of butanol is used to derive the butyle acetate. Which isomer is used will tell us how it was derived – grain or petroleum – but I haven’t heard back. I’ll guess a plant based source to give the company the benefit of the doubt in this case because the PR person now will not return my emails.

In any event, reading the description of the ingredients, I was struck by the fact that it sounded familiar.  I had heard the claims before. Verbatim. I realized that the description matches EXACTLY with Priti’s description of its ingredients for its Priti Non Toxic Polishes. With the same typo on the description of butyl acetate. So I’m not sure what is going on, but Priti doesn’t describe its polishes as all natural. Instead, Priti describes its nail polishes as free of the toxic 3 commonly found in nail polishes – formaldehyde, toluene and dibutyl phthalate (DBP). Which is fabulous but not quite the same as all natural.

And these products are that too – free of the so-called toxic 3 when it comes to nail polish.  But the claim of “all natural” is a much more significant claim. 

And, it appears that the ingredients aren’t all natural.

Take isopropyl alcohol. Which I use around the home to sanitize. But isopropyl alcohol comes from combining water and propene, and propene is derived from non renewable sources, petroleum or perhaps coal.

Stearalkonium hectorite is synthesized from stearalkonium chloride, a quarternary ammonium compound. Quaternary ammonium compounds are synthetic derivatives of ammonium chloride. 

The various colors can be from petroleum sources. Many are. Again, I have asked for information about the colors being used but the PR person won’t answer my emails. Her last email to me was:

Our nail lacquers appeal to the natural and green market.  We are not using the 3 main highly toxic ingredients that most all nail polish use and that is our focus.  

The thing is, the nail polish appears to be a better alternative than any conventional nail polish containing one or all of the toxic 3 ingredients. But the apparently untrue claim of all natural ruins the product for me. The focus may be on eliminating the toxic 3, but then advertise the product that way – don’t make a false all natural claim.

Greenwashing: Beaute de Maman not so beautiful. Or particularly natural.

Polyetheylene plastic beads

I just don’t get the popularity of Beaute de Maman. Or why the line won an Editor’s Choice Award from Pregnancy Magazine in December of last year.

I really don’t get it.

The line is expensive.

But people like it because it is natural. I’ve found it in very upscale boutiques, with sales people touting its benefits.

But, the line is guilty of greenwashing.

 The product advertising states that

Beaute de Maman was conceived by Dr. Brown, an obstetrician whose ongoing mission is to provide safe and effective remedies for the common problems women face during pregnancy. Her fine line of skincare products has been extensively studied and evaluated, as well as allergy and obstetrician tested. The entire line contains only natural and herbal ingredients proven safe for the mother-to-be, the fetus and the breastfeeding baby. 

Those natural claims are repeated in the Connecticut Post and other press about Beaute De Maman.

And therein is my problem. The entire line is supposed to contain “only natural and herbal ingredients” but that isn’t true. Well, at least by my definition of natural.

Let’s take the first product – the facial scrub. The ingredients are:

Water (Purified), Glycerol Stearate, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Butylene Glycol, Disodium Laureth Sulfocucinate, Sodium Cocoyl, Methyl Taurate, Polyethylene, PEG-100 stearate, Myristyl Myristate, Tridecyl Stearate, Neopentyl Glycol Dicaprylate/Dicaprate, Tridecyl Trimellitate, Phenoxyethanol, Acrylates/C10 30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, DMDM Hydantoin, Caprylyl Glycol, Triethanolamine, Iodopropynyl Butycarbamate

Okay, now realize that polyethylene is a plastic derived from petroleum. That means that this allegedly all natural and herbal facial scrub has tiny microbeads of plastic that pollute our oceans.

Guess what? Lots of the other ingredients are very, very far from “natural.” Take butylene glycol. It is produced by the petrochemical industry by steam cracking. In other words, saturated petroleum hydrocarbons are broken down into small hydrocarbons. Or take triethanolamine. Triethanolamine is produced by reacting ethylene oxide with ammonia. In turn, ethylene oxide comes from ethylene and oxygen, and ethylene is produced by the petrochemical industry by steam cracking.

Okay, how are those natural? Or herbal?

Last year, I tried to speak with Beaute de Maman about its products. I was specifically interested in the natural claim and also contaminants being present in ceretain ingredients. And I got a fairly snotty response from Laureen Schroeder, VP of Marketing, that kept emphasizing how the company has access to research not available to the rest of us.

First, and most importantly, she said that “we do not claim to be 100% natural – as we could not be effective.” Huh? Isn’t that at odds with the advertising?

She also said:

Our products have been researched using databases and reproduction toxicity reports available only to physicians. . . . According to Reprotox, which are physician only databases  . . .”

Okay Ms. Schroeder, hate to tell you, but Reprotox is a subscription service available to physicians and consumers. So, yes, I use the same databases that you do.

So, many of the ingredients in the facial scrub peaked my interest. Ethylhexyl palmitate, for example, is an irritant, and the CIR panel warns against using in products for use around the eyes or on the skin above a certain concentration. Butylene glycol has the same problem. Several ingredients are ethoxylated and can have the carcinogen 1,4 dioxane as a contaminant, including disodium laureth sulfocucinate and PEG-100 stearate. Phenoxyethanol is phenol reacted with ethylene oxide, which again is petroleum derived.

Now, Ms. Schroeder states that the “facial scrub has no dioxane or carcinogenic compounds. All ingredients used are pure with no contaminants. Again, Intertek, or the FDA of England, did extensive testing of all products and determined that repeated exposure to the ingredients will not cause skin irritation, even with prolonged or repeated use. The ingredients used are well known and present at typical concenetrations where they will not cause irritation or allergy and are deemed safe. There is no formaldehyde or carcinogenic ingredients.”

Okay, so it seems that perhaps the ethoxylated ingredients are vacuum stripped to eliminate the 1,4 dioxane. But when I asked about the detection level used (and we know that is important after the SIGG debacle), I didn’t get a response.

Obviously, formaldehyde isn’t an ingredient. But her statement that there is no formaldehyde doesn’t address whether there are formaldehyde donors. The thing is about formaldehyde donors is that they work by releasing small quantities of formaldehyde to make the environment – the product – less favorable to microorganisms. So how can she claim that there is no formaldehyde produced? I get it that the levels may be very small, but still. Formaldehyde, by the way, is a carcinogen. It also causes contact dermantitis. DMDM Hydantoin, for example, is a formaldehyde donor. Setting asside the whole formaldehyde issue, DMDM Hydantoin is also an irritant, a known human immune system toxicant, and is a human skin toxicant. It is restricted for use in cosmetics in Japan. It gets a 7 to 9 (depending on use) in Skin Deep’s Cosmetic Safety Database.

I’m also completely unconvinced by the reliance upon Reprotox. Beaute de Maman banks on its claims that the products are safe for pregnant women. (I have some questions about the specific claims because, well, they seem to cross into the product being a drug, not a cosmetic, but that is for the FDA. And the FTC.) But the thing is, we know that there have not be adequate toxicology reviews of most of the chemicals we use. Looking at the Reprotox entry for DMDM Hydantoin, for example, there is no information in Reprotox other than the CIR’s assessment from 1988. Hello? There has been more information since the industry-funded panel looked at it – and the CIR only considers irritant/allergen type responses for the most part, not developmental toxicity.

And, by the way, Beaute de Maman claims that “these products, cosmeceuticals, have medicinal propertiers in their ingredients ensuring the safety of both mother-to-be and baby.” That certainly sounds like they are super special, right? Just so you know, the FDA does not recognize any such category as “cosmeceutical”, as Beaute de Maman asserts that the products are. A product is a drug, a cosmetic, or a combination of both, but the term “cosmeceutical” has no meaning under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

Are your bath and beauty products causing dermatitis? Quaternium 15 & Formaldehyde

JohnsonsHeadtoToeBabyWashDid you know Johnson’s Head-to-Toe Baby Wash contains a preservative that releases formaldehyde – a carcinogen and a leading cause of dermatitis?

Yep, that’s right. That staple in many homes contains some not so nice chemicals. I’ve posted before about the problems with the ingredients in Johnson’s Head-to-Toe baby wash. The No More Toxic Tub report from the Campaing for Safe Cosmetics led to several posts about hysterical mommy bloggers.

A new peer-reviewed report published in the Journal of Dermatology Nurses’ Association revisits the problem. The report finds that Quaternium 15, a preservative found in Johnson’s Head to Toe Baby Wash and many other conventional bath and beauty products, may be responsible for dermatitis in many users (dermatitis can be misdiagnosed as eczema).

The report states that Quaternium 15 is “the most sensitizing formaldehyde-releasing preservative and has been repeatedly shown to be a strong allergen that can cause contact dermatitis.”

As quoted in the press release from the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, “Quaternium 15 is present in an alarmingly high number of baby products, making exposure and sensitization at an early age increasingly common,” said Sharon Jacob, M.D., co-author of the paper and physician at the Department of Medicine and Pediatrics at Rady Children’s Hospital. “This is a concern because repeated exposures to sensitizing chemicals, especially in early life, can cause a person to develop allergic reactions over time. Therefore, we advise parents to choose products without quaternium 15 and other formaldehyde-releasing preservatives whenever possible.”

Okay, so say you want to skip products containing Quaternium 15 or any other formaldhyde donor preservatives. I understand that you don’t want to need a chemistry degree just to shop. So, my general advice is to use the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep cosmetic safety database and look for products with a score of 2 or lower, and with no ingredient about 4. Another general recommendation is to find a company you trust, and use those products.

For baby washes/shampoos,, one way to avoid preservatives is to avoid detergent shampoos as opposed to soap shampoos. Pure castile soap – a vegetable based soap – doesn’t require a preservative because the pH prevents the growth of mold and bacteria. It’s easy to be confused here because most “shampoo” and “body wash” products are actually detergents that require artificial surfactants, emulsifiers and preservatives. There are some safe detergents, but if you want the easiest and quickest way to buy safely, look for pure castile soap like Earth Mama Angel Baby and Dr. Bronners. (Disclosure – if you click on the Earth Mama Angel Baby link over on the left, I make a little money since I’m an affiliate. Also, in connection with my other company, 3 Green Angels, Earth Mama Angel Baby has retained the company to host several Twitter parties.)

Guess I’m not just a hysterical mommy blogger-Johnson & Johnson asked to clean up baby shampoo

woman throwing somethingHysterical mommy blogger? I think not. Well, if I am, I am at least in good company.  

Last week, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics delivered a letter to asking J&J to eliminate the carcinogens 1,4 dioxane and formaldehyde, and hormone disrupting phthalates, from its personal care products. The letter was signed by almost 50 organizations, from Healthy Child Healthy World to the American Nurses Association. In other words, it isn’t just mommy bloggers that are concerned about the products our children use. We are not hysterical. 

The letter was delivered by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. If you recall, the Campaign was responsible for the No More Toxic Tub report. That report identified the presence of the carcinogens 1,4 dioxane and formaldehyde in its popular baby products. Prior to the report coming out, I had posted about how J&J’s baby wash was definitely not as gentle to the eyes as consumers might assume given J&J’s family friendly face. With the release of No More Toxic Tub, the members of the Green Moms Carnival, including yours truly, posted and posted about the report, garnering the attention of industry organizations and industry representatives. In fact, a PR firm spent time slamming us and posting comments, but J&J refused to provide substantive answers to our questions.

 J&J’s response to my inquiry with certain questions about its products and the No More Toxic Tub report, resulted in a form email containing this enlightening statement but no substantive answer:

 We want to reassure parents that JOHNSON’S Baby Shampoo and all our baby and kids products are safe, gentle and mild products that they can trust and use with confidence.

Do you believe this statement? You may. The statement is true in the sense that the products comply with the FDA’s requirements. But the FDA does not approve cosmetic ingredients before the are used. The FDA’s oversight of cosmetic safety is very lax.

 In any event, J&J’s baby shampoo and other products contain the carcinogens 1,4 dioxane and formaldehyde. They also contain hormone disrupting phthalates. These ingredients are not disclosed on the label. 1,4 dioxane is a contaminant in certain ethoxylated ingredients. Formaldehyde is released from certain preservatives, called formaldehyde donor preservatives (such as Quat 15). Phthalates are found in fragrance. I don’t believe that these ingredients are what moms think about when they consider products safe, gentle and mild. I certainly don’t.

 I also think that it is odd that a company with such a family friendly image would continue to use such ingredients and would also refuse to answer our questions.

Products can be made without the ingredients at a comparable price point. In fact, lots of companies do it already. And, funny thing is, J&J makes products for the Japan market WITHOUT formaldehye donor preservatives. Which is completely ironic considering that industry spokespeople posted in comments on several blogs that well, without formaldehyde donor preservatives, a host of bad things could occur, like blindness. 

 In any event, I was pleased to see that the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics had delivered a letter that resulted in media coverage. I was also gratified to find out that the our famous Green Moms Carnival organizer, Lynn from OrganicMania, received an email from the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics thanking us:

Normally a letter like this wouldn’t raise much interest, but clearly people are outraged that such a trusted product as Johnson’s Baby Shampoo could contain carcinogens. I think the Green Moms Carnival was really helpful in tipping parents off to this problem when we released the “Toxic Tub” report in March – thank you. We’re hopeful that the company will reconsider its position that “a little bit” of a carcinogen is nothing to worry about.
Thanks for your good work. 
Marisa Walker 

So, I’ll keep urging change. I’ll keep using my money to buy products I support. Products without these harmful ingredients, with more sustainable packaging, and that don’t rely on non renewable resources.  

If that’s hysterical, so be it.

Oh, don’t worry, you’re just a mommy blogger & just a little bit of a carcinogen is okay

circle of kidsYes, I’m a “mommy blogger.” Yes, I try to practice a green lifestyle.  Yes, I choose to buy products without certain ingredients in an effort to provide a safer lifestyle for my kids.  I choose the alternatives.  I sort of think that it makes sense to be safe instead of sorry, especially when alternatives are available at pretty much the same price point.  And I’d rather give my money to a company doing the Earth some good.

That does not make me a hysterical mommy blogger.  That does not make me stupid. 

I understand the dose response relationship.  Yes, I’m well aware that traditional toxicology is founded on the principle the dose makes the poison, as I am also aware that the current school of toxicology thought is the dose and the timing make the poison.  Yes, I get it. 

A representative from the Formaldehyde Council has been making the rounds commenting on our various blog posts suggesting that we don’t know what we are talking about. There are also some twitterers who also respond to our tweets suggesting that we just don’t get the science. We are mommy bloggers. 

Hey, paid PR people (as we have discovered they are), do you get the science? And, by the way, do you understand that my children don’t use just one product?  That we have sources of formaldehyde and dioxane elsewhere in our lives?  That the cumulative exposure to certain chemicals, and how they may work together, might make the exposure and risk more significant?  

And, by the way, if you are bathing your child, and you have the option of a product with and one without 1,4 dioxane at the same price and the same effectiveness, are you really going to tell me you would pick the product with 1,4 dioxane in it? 

Or will you not drink the chromium tainted water either? (Reference to Erin Brokovich if you don’t get it.) 

What the heck am I talking about? 

green moms carnival logoThe Green Moms Carnival this month blogged about 1,4 dioxane, formaldehyde and other problemmatic ingredients in baby bath products.  You really should go check out Sommer at Green & Clean Mom who hosted this carnival. 

Why did we tackle this topic?  Because, a couple of weeks ago, the Environmental Working Group released a report (No More Toxic Tub) that looked at the concentrations of two carcinogens, 1,4-dioxane and formaldehyde, in baby bath products.  The information that these compounds are present in personal care products isn’t new (I’ve posted before about their presence in so called natural personal care products and litigation in California), but the focus on concentrations in baby bath products was new.  At the same time, in a case of bad timing, at least to the members of the Green Moms Carnival, Johnson & Johnson announced a new social media campaign using mommy bloggers to talk about its baby bath products and launched a video campaign using children bathing, with the top video being awarded $10,000. 

I called out the spokesperson, Angie Harmon, and Johnson & Johnson for purporting to be green yet continuing to use petroleum based ingredients containing carcinogens in non recycled content bottles.  And the other Green Moms were upset too, each with a different take on the issue.  Let me be clear – we understand that the EWG’s report does not purport to assess whether exposure actually occurs or whether that exposure would result in a health effect. 

Some of the commenters, particularly a representative of The Formaldehyde Council, keep saying that it is just a little bit, nothing to worry about.  Okay, that may be true – but I really don’t care.  I worry about the cumulative risk of exposure.  My kid will not just get 1,4 dioxane from one product, but from several products, plus other sources.  In fact, my kids get exposed to all sorts of chemicals, manmade & naturally occuring.  (Yes, I understand that carcinogens naturally occur in certain foods. You don’t need to tell me.)  So, if I can, I will use my money to support the company that can make the product without those potentially harmful ingredients. 

And. to be frank, everybody said that lead in paint was safe for YEARS.  Think about it – the first reported health effects linked to lead paint were in 1904.  Yet, in the 1940’s, after France and England and even Cuba had banned lead in residential paint, the US paint industry was still telling us lead in paint was safe.  We didn’t even get around to limiting lead in consumer paints and painted products until the 1970s. 

Alice Hamilton was called hysterical, yet her work helped protect countless workers.    

Everybody said that lead in gasoline didn’t really contribute to children’s blood lead levels.  Yet, banning lead as a gasoline additive has resulted in a dramatic drop in children’s blood lead levels (along with the limit on lead in certain consumer paints). 

DES was supposed to be safe.  So were PCBs.  As was DDT.  Now we have flame retardants, phthalates, triclosan and more that are being called into question. 

Do you see a pattern here?  We don’t always know what is safe or not, sometimes hazards pop up long after a compound is deemed safe.  (DES anybody?) We don’t always know what will harm our environment or not.  Unintended consequences often happen.  Synthetic chemicals persist in the environment, or react with other compounds, causing problems down the road.  (Yes, we still find PCBs and DDT in our homes and our bodies, including newborn cord blood, 30 years after they were banned.)  

So for me – I pick the products without those potentially harmful or questionable ingredients when I have a choice. 

And what do we use?  I love Earth Mama Angel Baby products.  California Baby is great too.  We use a lot of inexpensive plain liquid castile soap too – cheaper than almost every single conventional product on the market.  There are lots of wonderful products out there without phthalates, 1,4 dioxane or formaldehyde.  And most of those companies use less packaging, use recycled content packaging, steer clear of using any non renewable resource, etc.  I’d rather use my money for those products because, well, my children deserve it.  And so does the Earth.

Hey, Angie Harmon, You Can’t Kinda Go Green: Faulting Johnson’s Social Media Baby Product Campaign


Toxic Tub: Carcinogens 1,4 Dioxane and Formaldehyde Found in Baby Bath & Beauty Products

baby in bubble bathThe Campaign for Safe Cosmetics released a new report showing that many conventional baby bath products include cancer-causing 1,4-dioxane and formaldehyde.  The information really isn’t new – we’ve known for many years that the ethoxylation process can create 1,4 dioxane as a contaminant (see, for example, my post on 1,4-dioxane in so called natural products) – and we’ve also known that many commonly used preservative release formaldehyde.  However, this new report provides the actual concentration levels in many popular baby bath products.  
But, and this is a big but, please note that this study only looked at concentration levels in the products – it did not measure exposure – so just because a product contains 1,4-dioxane or formaldehyde, or both, doesn’t mean that an exposure occurs, or that an exposure occurs at a level at which harm might occur. 
And also please keep in mind that there are cancer causing chemicals in lots of products, even cancer causing chemicals that occur naturally in products, including the foods we eat.  So don’t be unnecessarily alarmed by these results but they may encourage you to choose products without these chemicals. 
First, a little bit of background on 1,4-dioxane and formaldehyde in beauty products. 
1,4-dioxane is a byproduct of the ethoxylation process by which certain chemicals are made milder or gentler.  Ethoxylated compounds are “eth” type compounds – sodium laureth sulfate, for example.  You won’t find 1,4-dioxane on the ingredient list because it isn’t an ingredient – it is a contaminant.  (See my post analyzing Johnson’s Head to Toe baby wash).  1,4-dioxane is listed on the California Prop. 65 list of chemicals known to the State to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity, and is identified by the US EPA as a probable human carcinogen.  The CPSC has stated that the presence of 1,4-dioxane, even as a trace contaminant, is a cause for concern, yet the FDA, the agency responsible for regulating cosmetics, does not have an established safe level for 1,4-dioxane in cosmetics.  (Such a surprise, right?)  1,4-dioxane is readily absorbed through the lungs, skin and the digestive system. 
Formaldehyde is classified as a probable human carcinogen by the EPA.  Formaldehyde is also known to cause allergic reactions and rashes in some people.  Formaldehyde is used as an ingredient in some personal care products and is listed on the ingredient list for those products.  However, formaldehyde may also be present in beauty products because it is released from common preservatives that are known to be formaldehyde contributors, such as Quaternium-15, or Quat-15.  In those cases, formaldehyde is not listed on the ingredient list because it isn’t an ingredient. 
Both of these are chemicals that you may not want in your baby’s bath products.   If you were already worried about synthetic fragrance and phthalates, you can add 1,4-dioxane and formaldehyde to your list of stuff to be concerned about.  (Okay, but don’t be overly alarmed.)  And another reason to shift to baby products free of such items, like Earth Mama Angel Baby products (my favorite baby products and why I’m an affiliate). 
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetic’s report found out of the 48 common products it tested for 1,4-dioxane, 32 of the products contained the carcinogen.  American Girl shower products contained the highest levels of 1,4-dioxane of the products tested. 
The Campaign also tested 28 of these 48 products for formaldehyde and found that 23 of the 28 products contained formaldehyde at levels ranging from 54 to 610 ppm (skin reactions have been found at levels as low as 250 ppm).  Baby Magic Baby Lotion by Ascendia Brands contained the highest levels of formaldehyde of the products tested. 
Further, some products contained both.  Products that contained both 1,4-dioxane and formaldehyde include Johnson’s Baby Shampoo, Sesame Street Bubble Bath, Grins and Giggles Milk & Honey Baby Wash (a little annoying because it is marketed as a “natural” line) and Huggies Naturally Refreshing Cucumber and Green Tea Baby Wash. 
Here’s the complete list of findings adapted from the report: 

Product Name and Company 1,4-dioxane (in parts per million) Formaldehyde (in parts per million)
American Girl Hopes and Dreams Shimmer Body Lotion (Bath & Body Works) ND* 310
Baby Magic “Soft Baby Scent” Baby Lotion (Ascendia Brands, Inc) ND* 570
Baby Magic “Soft Baby Scent” Baby Lotion (Ascendia Brands, Inc) 0.92 610
Baby Magic “Soft Baby Scent” Baby Lotion (Ascendia Brands, Inc) ND* 330
Johnson’s Bedtime Lotion Natural Calm Essences (Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies) ND* Not tested for this chemical
Mustela Baby Body Lotion (Laboratories Expanscience) ND* Not tested for this chemical
Tinker Bell Body Lotion (Goldie LLC) ND* 220
CVS Baby Shampoo (CVS/Pharmacy) 0.92 350
Johnson’s Baby Shampoo (Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies) ND* 200
Johnson’s Baby Shampoo (Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies) 1.1 210
L’Oreal Kids Extra Gentle 2-in-1 Fast Dry Shampoo — Burst of Cool Melon (L’Oreal USA) 0.95 260
Suave Kids 2-in-1 Shampoo — Wild Watermelon (Unilever) 0.69 ND*
Liquid Shower Soaps    
American Girl Hopes and Dreams Glistening Shower and Bath Wash (Bath & Body Works) 14 Not tested for this chemical
American Girl Real Beauty Inside and Out Shower Gel — Apple Blossom (Bath & Body Works) 6.3 210
American Girl Real Beauty Inside and Out Shower Gel — Apple Blossom (Bath & Body Works) 5.7 220
American Girl Real Beauty Inside and Out Shower Gel — Apple Blossom (Bath & Body Works) 18 150
American Girl Real Beauty Inside and Out Shower Gel — Sunny Orange (Bath & Body Works) 35 ND*
Bath Washes    
Aveeno Baby Soothing Relief Creamy Wash (Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies) 1.4 Not tested for this chemical
Aveeno Baby Soothing Relief Creamy Wash (Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies) 1.7 Not tested for this chemical
Aveeno Baby Soothing Relief Creamy Wash (Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies) 4.6 Not tested for this chemical
CVS Kids Body Wash — Blueberry Blast (CVS/Pharmacy) 0.75 54
Equate Tearless Baby Wash (Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.) 0.63 290
Gentle Naturals Eczema Baby Wash (Del Pharmaceuticals, Inc.) 6.4 Not tested for this chemical
Grins & Giggles Milk & Honey Baby Wash (Gerber Products Company) 2.8 400
Huggies Naturally Refreshing Cucumber & Green Tea Baby Wash (Kimberly-Clark) 3.2 410
Johnson’s Moisture Care Baby Wash (Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies) 3.9 Not tested for this chemical
Johnson’s Oatmeal Baby Wash — Vanilla (Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies) 4.2 Not tested for this chemical
Mustela Baby Shampoo (Laboratories Expanscience) 2.8 Not tested for this chemical
Mustela Dermo-Cleansing Gel for Hair and Body Newborn/Baby (Laboratories Expanscience) 3.9 Not tested for this chemical
Night-time Bath Baby Wash (Target Corporation) 3.6 Not tested for this chemical
Bubble Baths    
Barbie Berry Sweet Bubble Bath (Water-Jel Technologies) 0.65 440
Dora the Explorer Bubble Bath (MZB Personal Care) 1.5 130
Hot Wheels Berry Blast Bubble Bath (Water-Jel Technologies) 2.8 100
Mustela Multi-Sensory Bubble Bath (Laboratories Expanscience) 1.7 ND*
Sesame Street Bubble Bath — Orange Mango Tango (The Village Company) 2.8 340
Tinker Bell Scented Bubble Bath (Goldie LLC) 11 420
Baby Wipes    
Huggies Naturally Refreshing Cucumber & Green Tea Baby Wipes (Kimberly-Clark) ND* Not tested for this chemical
Huggies Soft Skin — Shea Butter (Kimberly-Clark Global Sales Inc) ND* 100
Kirkland Signature Premium Unscented Baby Wipes (Costco Wholesale Corporation) ND* Not tested for this chemical
Pampers Baby Fresh (Procter & Gamble) ND* Not tested for this chemical
Pampers Calming — Lavender (Procter & Gamble) ND* Not tested for this chemical
Hair Relaxers    
Dark & Lovely Kids Beautiful Beginnings No-Mistake Nourishing No-Lye Creme Relaxer, Normal to Course Hair (SoftSheen-Carson, owned by L’Oreal USA) ND* Not tested for this chemical
Dark & Lovely Kids Beautiful Beginnings No-Mistake Nourishing No-Lye Children’s Relaxer System, Fine Hair Types (SoftSheen-Carson, owned by L’Oreal USA) ND* ND*
Soft & Beautiful Just for Me! No-Lye Conditioning Creme Relaxer, Children’s Super (Alberto-Culver Company) 0.27 ND*
Hand Soaps    
Pampers Kandoo Foaming Handsoap — Magic Melon (Procter & Gamble) 0.49 310
Sun Blocks    
Banana Boat Kids UVA & UVB Sunblock Lotion SPF 30 (Sun Pharmaceuticals Corp.) ND* Not tested for this chemical
No-Ad Sun Pals SPF 45 UVA/UVB Sun Protection (Solar Cosmetics Labs Inc.) 0.46 Not tested for this chemical
Colgate Kids 2-in-1 Toothpaste and Mouthwash — Strawberry (Colgate-Palmolive Company) ND* Not tested for this chemical
* Not detectable.

PLASTICS/BPA: Safe to use? baby bottles, sippy cups, plastic wrap, Tupperware, melamine?

Updated May 13, 2008, Updated May 21, 2008, Update December 6, 2008

It seems like everybody is just confused about plastics for formula, breast milk, and food storage.  PVC, phthalates, BPA – what the heck should you use?  And how do you figure it out?  I’ve gotten tons of questions – is melamine safe to use?  Can you use cling type wraps?  What about Tupperware?  Which baby bottles are safe?  Can I use the Beaba Babycook?

You don’t want phthalates in your food.  Phthalates leach from polyvinyl chloride.  You don’t want bisphenol A in your food.  BPA leaches from polycarbonate plastic (and also the epoxy resins used to line virtually all canned food and beverages).  But what is safe to use? 

First – a plastic primer.  The resin identification codes are #1 through #7.  Not all products have the resin identification code (often referred to as the recycling symbol).  Why?  Because it is used primarily on disposable and single use items – those items intended to be recycled.  And, just keep in mind that it is an identification code to make sorting plastic easier – just because there is an identification code on your plastic does not mean that your jurisdiction actually will recycle it.

Recycling Logos

Okay, so the plastic resin identification codes are: 

#1 is polyethylene terephthalate.  Considered a safer plastic, although some reports of leaching antimony after long storage.  And, although the word “phthalate” appears in the name, this plastic is NOT know for leaching the phthalates used as plasticizers in PVC.

#2 is high density polyethylene.

#3 is Polyvinyl chloride (PVC).  Avoid.

#4 is low density polyethylene.

#5 is polypropylene.

#6 is polystyrene.  Avoid.

#7 is other (not one of #1 – #6).  Often polycarbonate, although also includes the new bioplastics.  Avoid polycarbonate.

 Here are Smart Mama’s Simple Steps for most common items.

For baby bottles, skip polycarbonate plastic to avoid leaching of bisphenol A (BPA).  Here are some options

For sippy cups, skip polycarbonate plastic to avoid leaching of bisphenol A (BPA).  Here are some options.

For pacifiers, use silicone or natural rubber.  Keep in mind that the guard may be made of polycarbonate plastic.  Exposure to BPA from the guard is probably a lower risk than exposure from food storage containers since the baby’s mouth may not touch it, or may not touch it that much.  However, there is probably some leaching from the guard through saliva contact.  There are options if you want to avoid BPA-containing plastic pacifier guards altogether.

For sandwich bags, most of them are low density polyethyelene (LDPE – #4) and considered to be made from a “safer” plastic.  However, they are not as eco-friendly as using a re-usable container (such as stainless steel) or using butcher paper.

For plastic wraps, some are made of PVC (#3).  If they are made of PVC, they may leach phthalates.  However, many plastic wraps intended for in home use on the market today are not made of PVC.  Glad Cling Wrap, Handi-Wrap and Saran Premium Wrap are not made of PVC but are made of low density polyethylene (LDPE).  It is my understanding that you are likely to find PVC containing plastic wraps in discount, no name wraps and commercial wraps. 

Tupperware, Rubbermaid and others have some products that are polycarbonate and many that are not.  Tupperware’s list of of its products and the plastics from which they are made can be found here.  Rubbermaid has a list of products that contain BPA and those that do not contain BPA with pictures so that it is easy to use.  However, for food storage, it would be best to switch to glass or ceramic.  If you use glass, keep in mind that some of the painted on decals can have lead, and if you use ceramic, make sure it is free of lead.

What about the so called safer plastic, polypropylene (#5)? Recent news reports stated that #5 plastic may leach potentially harmful chemicals.  A team of researchers found that quaternary ammonium biocides and oleamide were leaching for #5 plastic and interfering with their experiments.  The results are preliminary – the researchers weren’t studying leaching but discovered the leaching inadvertently.  Further testing will have to verify the results.

Is melamine safe?  It appears to be.  The melamine used in dinnerware is made from melamine being combined with formaldehyde to produce melamine resin.  It is a very durable thermoset plastic.  However, there are studies showing leaching of formaldehyde and melamine at extremely low levels.  However, if you are trying to exposure to chemicals, you may also want to skip melamine.  Also, some decals used have been found to have lead and cadmium present.  Also, keep in mind that the issue with melamine in milk products such as infant formula and pet food involved the ingestion of granular melamine.

What about the 5 gallon water bottles, such as for Arrowhead water?  They are typically polycarbonate plastic.  You might want to choose another option for water, such as glass.

What about the Beaba Babycook?  After many emails, we have confirmation from the manufacturer that the Beaba Babycook is NOT made of polycarbonate plastic.

Finally, a personal note, I’ve switched to undecorated glass and stainless steel as much as I can.  As I replace broken or lost items, I’m buying glass and stainless steel because I’m trying to reduce our plastic consumption and because, well, I’m not so sure there really is a “safer” plastic.


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