“All-Natural” Personal Care Products to Avoid: Burt’s Bees Lotion

Reader Contribution by Ashley Houk
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Over the past few years, I’ve been working to reduce the number of skin- and personal-care products I use on a daily basis, and transitioning to natural products whenever possible. It’s been hit-or-miss on occasion, but with a little trial and error I have been able to find quality alternatives that meet my needs.

Since I’ve been a fan of Burt’s Bees lip balms over the years, I thought trying out a few of their other products would be a good place to start. My primary needs for a good lotion are that it’s non-greasy and water-based, the latter of which is harder to find than you might think. Burt’s Bees Soothingly Sensitive lotion met both requirements, but left me very disappointed and itchy…keep reading to find out why.

Burt’s Bees Soothingly Sensitive Body Lotion (Aloe & Buttermilk)

Burt’s Bees is widely available at big box retailers, such as Wal-Mart and Target. Although Burt’s handcrafted lip balms have been popular for quite some time, the company was purchased by Clorox in 2007 and has been adding new items to their product line ever since. The Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Skin Deep Database ranks this particular lotion 5 out of 10 on its safety scale (moderate risk).

Ingredients of Concern

Fragrance: Commonly found in most personal care products, fragrance—may also be listed as parfum or perfume—is a mixture of unnamed chemicals, often containing phthalates. Fragrance is by far the most hazardous ingredient (scoring 8 out of 10) in this product, as it may contribute to allergies, skin irritation and respiratory disease.

Phenoxyethanol: This ingredient ranks 4 out of 10 (moderate risk) and is used as a preservative in moisturizers, sunscreens, deodorants and several makeup products to reduce the chances of bacterial growth. Skin exposure to products containing as little as 1 percent of phenoxyethanol may cause eczema, hives or other skin irritation in the area of application.

Lactic Acid: Also scoring a 4 out 10 on Skin Deep’s hazard scale (moderate risk), lactic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) used to in skin care products to reduce the occurrence of breakouts and signs of aging. Although lactic acid and other AHAs are decent exfoliators, they leave our skin more vulnerable to sun damage, increasing the risk of skin cancer and premature aging.

Burt’s Bees Soothingly Sensitive lotion is also populated by a host of plant extracts, including aloe which may cause developmental and/or reproductive issues. Many of the plant extracts received hazard scores of 1, with little to no data to suggest they pose any risk to human health.

As we become a more health-conscious society, limiting the number of toxins in our homes has become a larger priority. Personal care routines shouldn’t be an exception, even though simplifying these routines isn’t always easy—trust me, I know—it’s well worth it in the end.

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