FAQS/INGREDIENT QUESTIONS AND CLARIFYING INFO

 

There are alcohols listed on your ingredients. Are those bad for your skin and will it make me dry out? Why are they in your product?

These organic alcohols are:

Stearyl Alcohol is a vegetable based skin conditioner and thickening agent. Cetearyl and cetyl alcohol are both derived from coconuts and help to keep the formula from separating. These will not dry out your skin whatsoever. They evaporate when hit with oxygen and are used as a natural, safe preservative. 

                                                                                                                  


Phenoxyethanol? You use it in a few products..can you explain it? I see conflicting information.

 

We are glad to help consumers better understand chemicals, chemistry, and product formulations. We translate the science, bust the myths, and give you an honest assessment, so you can make informed choices for your family.

Ingredient: Phenoxyethanol

What it is: Phenoxyethanol can be found naturally in green tea, but the commercial ingredient is synthetically produced in a laboratory creating what’s termed a “nature identical” chemical. Specifically, it’s created by treating phenol with ethylene oxide in an alkaline medium which all reacts to form a pH-balanced ingredient.

What it does: Fights bacteria. Most personal care products are made with a lot of water and a variety of nutrients (consider all of the organic and natural oils and botanicals in our products) which makes an incredibly hospitable breeding ground for microorganisms. What’s worse – the product might smell and look just fine, but be swarming with bacteria or fungi that are dangerous to your health. Effective preservatives are vital for ensuring safety!

Why we use it at less than 1%: We use phenoxyethanol in a very low concentration as a preservative in a few products because the most accessible alternatives for these types of formulas include parabens and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives. Both are classes of chemicals with demonstrable evidence of potential health risks, whereas phenoxyethanol is very safe at low levels. It’s been tested on the skin and eyes and it is non-irritating and non-sensitizing at levels of 2.2% or lower while being effective at only 1% concentrations. Our products with it contain less that 1%. The European Union and Japan both approve its use up to that 1% level and our formulas fall well below the recommendation at 0.5% or less (depending on the specific product).

Even better, phenoxyethanol doesn’t react with other ingredients, air or light. This kind of stability makes it an especially effective preservative.

What’s more, it’s included in the Handbook of Green Chemicals and is also Whole Foods Premium Body Care approved. And, their standards, developed by a team of scientists over the course of years, are some of the strictest available. If these two credible sources give it a thumbs-up, we do, too.

Why it's a buzz word: We regularly hear from customers concerned about this ingredient because there’s quite a bit of online controversy about its safety. You’ll find it being mentioned as everything from a developmental and reproductive toxicant to being linked to cancer. Fundamentally, it’s poorly interpreted science.

Here’s the facts: Most of the studies that have found significant negative health impacts are based on full-strength or high-dose exposures. In real life usage, exposures are minuscule in comparison. That’s why it’s approved at levels up to 1%. It’s all about the final formulation.

Think of it like a cake recipe. You wouldn’t want to eat a mouthful of salt, or raw egg, or flour, or probably any other ingredient that goes into a cake. (Not only would it taste disgusting, eating a bunch of salt or raw eggs could make you sick!) But mixed in just the right amounts, baked just the right way, a cake is divine. That’s the magic and science of chemistry. Product formulations work the same way.

We’d like to point out a study that helped inform our decision to use it – a study conducted on pre-term newborn babies finding a phenoxyethanol-based antiseptic as the preferred, gentle formula that’s quickly metabolized by even a premature baby’s system. 

Now, we’re not trying to write-off concerns about this ingredient – it’s not perfect, but there are not many preservatives that are.  Even organic and natural in essence like alcohol can be harsh and has it’s limitations.

Given all this, we recognize that phenoxyethanol isn’t perfect, and we are on new ways to preserve while keep the integrity the integrity of the formula you love so well. It’s the spirit of the company and our commitment to you, to always try to do better, because we care!

We certainly stand behind the safety of our products, but we know there’s always room for improvement and we take all of our customers’ feedback and concerns to heart.

Have any other questions or concerns about phenoxyethanol? We’re happy to hear them and help you better understand this ingredient!

Learn more:

                                                                                                                     

Additional here is an article written by one of the chief formulators we respect and has had oversight on some of our formulas.

Phenoxyethanol And Skin Deep Ratings

Laura, Chief Formulator and one that BCN uses:

I am frequently asked why some organic and natural companies uses phenoxyethanol as a preservative in many of our “natural” cosmetics.

Today I’d like to cover this from a few different directions, and while I am doing so, please know that I always welcome feedback and suggestions. As a Chief Formulator, I am always on the hunt for a better preservative, but it must be as robust as phenoxyethanol; meaning it must have the ability to give a shelf life of longer than 1 year, it must be able to work synergistically with other ingredients, and it must not be odor-offensive. 

Please note that every time air is introduced to a product so is dust, bacteria, mold spores, and so on. An effective preservative is absolutely critical to ensuring the product is clean and stable for the end user.

Let’s first talk about why phenoxyethanol is perceived so negatively. The FDA and other agencies state that phenols are bad (as a side note, phenol is prohibited in the EU). Although phenoxyethanol starts with pheno, phenol has almost no use in cosmetics.  Phenoxyethanol (PE) is made from the reaction of 1 mole of ethylene oxide on 1 mole of phenol. The purity of the PE is 95% (fragrance use is 99%) with the diether as the major other part. There is no free phenol in Phenoxyethanol PE. 

So when you read a review of phenoxyethanol and they specifically call out “phenol”, you can assume the author does not understand the facts involved in the basic chemistry of phenoxyethanol.

Secondly, let’s talk about phenoxyethanol from EWG’s Skin Deep standpoint. 

Looking at phenoxyethanol on EWG Skin Deep, we see it’s getting a score of 2-4 – but it’s getting that rating because as a stand-alone ingredient, it’s an irritant to skin, eyes and lungs. As previously mentioned, this would not be the case for the end user of the cosmetic, yet consumers will read this rating and make assumptions which are often incorrect. I wish Skin Deep would do a better job of explaining that their scores are related to the stand-alone ingredient; it might provide more useful information to consumers.

Let’s look at a faux formula (do not try this formula at home, it is strictly meant to demonstrate a point) that would be submitted to EWG Verified. I have put the EWG Skin Deep rating next to each ingredient.

 

84% water = 1

1% Phenoxyethanol = 4

0.5% Ethylhexylglycerin = 1

3% Cetyl Alcohol = 1

1% Cetearyl Glucoside = 1

5% Shea Butter = 1

2% Jojoba Oil = 1

0.5% Vitamin E = 1

3 % Vegetable Glycerin = 1 

So now let’s add those EWG Skin Deep numbers up. We will see we end with 12. We have 9 ingredients, so our overall average score of this product is 1.33, which would land as a rating of 1 in EWG Verified.

As you can see there is often more to know than just a snapshot of information available. That is why we formulators spend time researching the facts, understanding the science, and then takes all of the information available into account when choosing ingredients in formulations.

We hope this helps shed light. 

 

CUSTOMER QUESTION: Great information, but would love to know more about the safety concerns associated with this ingredient and the validity of sources saying it is harmful. Aside from Skin Deep, can you explain why this product is safe when so many sources on the internet tell them it’s not.

Would love a little more insight. Thank you!

ANSWER:

"I always recommend looking at the science because it is unbiased and based solely on fact. There is so much fear mongering out there on the internet and fear is ofttimes generated from lack of information. The Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) has a report that you can find in the EU’s website, that states that “the SCCS considers 2-phenoxyethanol safe for use as a preservative with a maximum concentration of 1.0%, taking into account the information provided.” Please note this 102 page report has testing from China, the EU and Japan in it. It’s very comprehensive. The Committee provides opinions (based on facts) on health and safety risks (chemical, biological, mechanical and other physical risks) of non-food consumer products (e.g. cosmetic products and their ingredients, toys, textiles, clothing, personal care and household products) and services (e.g. tattooing, artificial sun tanning). Here in the USA, we have the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) council. They state that the “undiluted, it is a strong eye irritant but not irritating when diluted at 2.2% and that the CIR concludes that it is safe as a cosmetic ingredient as currently used. Japan allows for it too due to all the same reasons as the SCCS and CIR state, but allow it only at 1% or below. Our usage is below %1."-Laura Chief Formulator that BCN uses.
 

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What is Tetrasodium Glutamate Diacetate?

A multi-purpose, clear, liquid chelating agent and preservative booster. Tetrasodium Glutamate Diacetate is made from plant material, readily biodegradable, with high solubility over a wide pH range. Tetrasodium Glutamate Diacetate serves the same function in formulations as EDTA, without the health and environmental concerns.