When Bright Body was in its infancy, our founder did detailed research on common ingredients in beauty products. Rather than giving into chemo-phobia, we wanted to make sure that there are real, empirical reasons why we would want to exclude certain ingredients. Through a search of the scientific literature and the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Cosmetic Database, we came to the conclusion that we would be better off keeping these types of ingredients out of our products. Every single ingredient in Bright Body products has earned the safest possible rating from EWG, a feat not yet accomplished by almost all other hair and skincare brands. Yes, even companies like Avalon Organics, Honest, Shea Moisture, and more.
Below you will find a summary of our findings on 10 different chemical groupings that you will never find in Bright Body products.
Research is conflicting. At this time there is insufficient evidence to prove things one way or another about parabens. The verdict: not worth the potential risks reported in many studies, especially those about possible carcinogenic effects.
We don't know what phthalates do to humans. Some phthalates have adverse effects on the reproductive system of laboratory animals. The verdict: the risks shown in animals are enough of a reason to exclude them from human products. See also: synthetic fragrance.
thickeners, solvents, humectants
PEGs must not be applied to damaged skin. PEGs, when combined in formulas with SLS (a synthetic sulfate), can compromise the skin barrier and facilitate the absorption of other chemicals. The verdict: Because of the risks to dry/damaged skin and the risks in combination with synthetic sulfates, avoid PEGs.
Synthetic sulfates are a known irritant to skin and eyes, and strip your skin of its natural moisture. The verdict: they are non-toxic and non-carcinogenic, but because they strip your skin of its natural moisture, avoid synthetic sulfates.
Silicones prevent the hair and skin from fully absorbing necessary oils and nutrients. Silicones are known to cause buildup on hair and skin that often requires synthetic sulfates to remove. The verdict: they are non-toxic and non-carcinogenic, but they prevent your hair and skin from being as healthy as possible.
Mild irritant and sensitizer. There is conflicting research on whether or not they can contaminate a product with nitrosamides, a known carcinogen. The verdict: irritation concerns coupled with possible carcinogenic properties make it best to avoid DEAs.
Alcohols in personal care products can cause apoptosis (programmed cell death), and due to its role as both a drying ingredient and an absorption enhancer, it can compromise the skin barrier and facilitate the absorption of other chemicals. The verdict: it's best to avoid alcohols, especially when paired with other, more problematic chemicals.
ethanol & related alcohols
solvents, penetration enhancers
Known irritant that can facilitate the absorption of other, more harmful chemicals. The verdict: it's best to avoid propylene glycol.
humectant, stabilizer, penetration enhancers
purely for scent
"Fragrance" or "parfum" on a product label represents an undisclosed mixture of various scent chemicals and ingredients used as fragrance dispersants. Many fragrances are phthalates. All synthetic fragrances are a known common allergen and one of the most common causes of contact dermatitis. The verdict: avoid, avoid, avoid.
These compounds have no real purpose in personal care products, other than to make a product a certain color. At Bright Body, we are much more concerned with the function of our products rather than the appearance. Plus, many dyes and color additives commonly found in personal care products are not rated favorably by the Environmental Working Group. The verdict: there's no need to use dyes and color additives. Avoid where possible.
dyes & color additives
purely for aesthetics
The cosmetic industry isn’t blind to this research, and their rebuttal is simple and, at first, makes sense. They say that although some reports show that certain chemicals may adversely affect human health, these studies are conducted with much higher levels of these chemicals than what is actually found in cosmetic products. They argue that when products are formulated as per manufacturer's instructions, “it is estimated that the levels of harmful additives found in these products are considerably lower than reported toxic concentrations.”
Bright Body has a few counterarguments to this dosage concern:
- a lot of available research is contradictory, so we really can’t say for sure whether these ingredients are safe at the levels found in cosmetics,
- what happens when you are exposed to low doses of these chemicals over a lifetime? There aren’t any good longitudinal studies that investigate this, and
- you can’t have any truly good experimental (cause-and-effect) studies on the effects of many of these chemicals over a lifetime. All we have now are short-term correlational studies, which don’t always give us clear answers on whether or not these chemicals are the true and sole root cause of certain health issues. At Bright Body, we decided that excluding these ingredients was the best approach.