Body, Bath & Beauty Blog

Posts Tagged ‘FDA

There’s been a lot of press this year on new concerns about what is in baby shampoo. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has taken an aggressive role in patrolling product manufacturers and pressuring them to eliminate potentially harmful chemicals from their products. Naturally, baby products are something we want to be very cautious about. You would think that the FDA would assess and regulate baby products for safety. However, the FDA does not have authority to require assessment of safety for pre-market products like it with drugs. As a result, cosmetics products are some of the least-regulated on the market.

In March 2009, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics tested 48 products and 61% contained both formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane. One of these was Johnson’s Baby Shampoo! The report says:

“Formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane are known carcinogens; formaldehyde can also trigger skin rashes in some children. Unlike many other countries, the U.S. government does not limit formaldehyde, 1,4-dioxane, or most other hazardous substances in personal care products.”

There are labeling laws that require ingredients to be listed, but these chemicals are not ingredients, they are byproducts of preservatives in the products & of processes in making the products. The preservatives (eg. quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea and diazolidinyl urea) are added to eliminate bacteria from forming in the product while it sits in storage or on shelves. However, over time these preservatives can release formaldehyde in the container. 1,4 dioxane is a little different though. The report says that “1,4-dioxane is a byproduct of a chemical processing technique called ethoxylation, in which cosmetic ingredients are processed with ethylene oxide” to make them more soluble in water and foamy. Unless this is done under a low pressure environment, small amounts of potentially carcinogenic 1,4-Dioxane can be produced.

Things don’t have to be this way, there are alternatives that are available to everyone. I previously wrote about Skin Deep, a cosmetic safety database that consumers can use to find safe products. There are products out there that don’t use these preservatives and processes, eliminating the need for concern. And they’re not necessarily expensive products either. The company I work for makes a great line of affordable products for children. The Bath Therapy Baby & Kids line was created to provide parents with a healthy choice for washing their little ones. The line is gentle, tear free, hypoallergenic, and has a light fragrance. Most importantly though, it is regularly lab tested and DOES NOT contain: sulfates, parabens, propylene glycol, phthalates, or artificial colors. I have actually tried Baby & Kids myself, and they are a great body wash for adults too. The Lullabye Lavender is my favorite. The texture of the wash is soft, not too thick, and the scent is very mild, not overpowering. You can read more about Bath Therapy Kids & Baby by clicking here. The line is available on our new website,


Update 12/21: Don’t just take my word for it! Check out this review of Bath Therapy Kids & Baby at


Skin Deep

Posted on: July 7, 2009

Ever wonder about all the ingredients in your products that you can’t pronounce? Or are you just concerned about what you put on your skin? Only 11 percent of the 10,500 ingredients in personal care products have been publicly assessed. Skin Deep is a service that aids in filling the safety gaps remaining from those unregulated cosmetics industries. It’s an online cosmetics safety database created by the Environmental Working Group. It can be used to research the products you already own or find safer at the store. Skin Deep is a searchable database that matches ingredients in more than 25,000 personal care products (such as shampoos, makeup, deodorants, and sunscreens) with 50 toxicity and regulatory databases. It gives you the power to find the most safety information anywhere about the products you put on your body. The advanced search also allows consumers to find products free of carcinogens, fragrance or contaminants.

Click here to check out Skin Deep

I came across an interesting article in the New York Times today, New Products Bring Side Effect: Nanophobia by Natasha Singer. It’s about body products that contain very small ingredients to aid in the product’s effectiveness. 

“Toiletry companies formulate new cutting-edge creams and lotions that contain tiny components designed to work more effectively. But those minuscule building blocks have an unexpected drawback: the ability to penetrate the skin, swarm through the body and overwhelm organs like the liver.”

Should we be suspicious of these nano-sized ingredients, or welcome them for their superpowers? A nanometer is one billionth of a meter. A human hair is 500,000 to 100,000 nanometers in diameter. The whole intention of using a nanoparticle in a product is so that it CAN penetrate the skin so it can do it’s job better. But how far is too far? What may we not yet know about this technology? 

“Indeed, some doctors, scientists and consumer advocates are concerned that many industries are adopting nanotechnology ahead of studies that would establish whether regular ingestion, inhalation or dermal penetration of these particles constitute a health or environmental hazard. Personal care products are simply the lowest hanging fruit.”

Some materials that we are used to being harmless on the skin at a normal size may take on new roles at a nano scale. Some say the FDA needs to do more safety testing on nano scale ingredients. However, the cosmetic industry claims there’s no evidence the nanoparticles are hazardous, but have they been tested enough? What may be fine for healthy skin may not be fine for damaged skin. Yet we already use products that contain ingredients even smaller than nanoparticles. 

“The molecules in a cream are certainly going to be smaller than a nanoparticle.”
-Robert S. Langer, Professor of Chemical Engineering at MIT

The FDA does require cosmetic manufacturers to assure that their products are safe to use. 

“Ken Marenus, the senior vice president of regulatory affairs worldwide at the Estée Lauder companies, said nanomaterials had to undergo the same kind of assessment for exposure, risk and dosage levels as any other cosmetic component. ‘The same toxicological standards for every chemical will apply to nano,’ he said.”

All in all, it comes down to the fear of the nano though. Are people going to trust a product that literally gets under your skin? Maybe not at first. I think things like this take time to get used to. And with time comes more testing, which cannot be a bad thing. Perhaps we’ll discover that nanoparticles are really just beneficial in the end. What do you think? Would you use a product with nanoparticles?

Read the full article, New Products Bring Side Effect: Nanophobia by Natasha Singer, from the New York Times Fashion & Style section: click here

Today’s New York Times health section had a very important report for people with rheumatoid arthritis and other serious illnesses. Four drugs, that are mostly used for treating RA, were ordered to have stronger warnings by the Food and Drug Administration. These drugs are: Enbrel, Remicade, Humira and Cimzia. RA is an auto-immune disease, that causes the body’s immune system to attack itself, usually in the joints. These four drugs all work by “suppressing the immune system to keep it from attacking the body.” The problem, says Dr. Jeffrey Siegel of the FDA, “the drugs also lower the body’s defenses to infections.” The FDA became concerned after realizing that doctors were “overlooking a kind of fungal infection called histoplasmosis. Of 240 cases reported to the agency in which patients taking one of the four drugs developed this infection, 45 died. That is about 20 percent.”

Symptoms of the infection are similar to the flu. If you know someone that may be taking one of these drugs please pass this information along to them. 

Do you think stronger warnings are enough? 

Should the FDA place more restrictions on these drugs?

Click here to read the article from the New York Times


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