Why I Broke Up With Bath & Body Works

Photo by  Albert Dera

Photo by Albert Dera


I use to love walking into Bath & Body Works; the overpowering fragrances that nauseate some people, I welcomed with open arms.

While I stocked up on bottles of lotion after Christmas each year, I didn't use them nearly as much as I did their shower gel.  Coming out of the shower smelling like a field of spring flowers, who doesn't enjoy that?  So if I loved Bath & Body Works so much, why did I dump them?


Think Dirty.

Over the summer, I stumbled across an app called Think Dirty.  According to their website, the app is: "the easiest way to learn about the potentially toxic ingredients in your cosmetics and personal care products".  Each product in their database is graded on Carcinogenicity, Developmental & Reproductive Toxicity, and/or Allergenicity & Immunotoxicity.  This grade is then rated on their Dirty Meter scale of 0-10: lower the number, the less of a negative health impact the product is known to cause.  Additionally, this grade is not based off of someone's opinion: ALL evaluations are scientifically backed with published evidence on why the ingredient(s) may be harmful to one's health.  After seeing this, I was sold.  I had to check it out.


I started scanning personal care products that I was using on a regular basis. I was quickly dumbfounded; my beloved Bath & Body Works products were scanning at a 9 on the Dirty Meter.


My products from Bath & Body Works were not the only personal care products rating at a 9.

Back in high school, I found that men's Old Spice deodorant worked ten times better than any women's deodorant I could find and I have been using it ever since.  I will admit, I was almost too scared to scan it because I had a feeling the rating would come up bad.  Sure enough, it was.  A big red 9 - as was my Neutrogena Makeup Remover Cleansing Towelettes, my Formula 10.0.6 Best Face Forward Daily Foaming Cleanser, and the Ponds Clarant B3 Dark Spot Correct Cream that I used.  All I could do was nervously laugh.


The common denominator: fragrance.

Why were the products that I love(d) so much, rating as significantly harmful to my health? I dug into the information presented by the Think Dirty app.  The common denominator that I found in nearly all of my personal care products was the ingredient fragrance.  According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Code of Federal Regulation Title 21 Section 701.3(a), companies are not required by law to label the individual ingredients of the fragrance used in the cosmetic.  Therefore, unless the label clearly states "natural fragrance", the consumer does not know whether or not the fragrance used in the cosmetic is potentially harmful to their health.

The label on each package of a cosmetic shall bear a declaration of the name of each ingredient in descending order of predominance, except that fragrance or flavor may be listed as fragrance or flavor.
— U.S. Food and Drug Administration Code of Federal Regulation Title 21 Section 701.3(a)

Educate yourself on marketing tactics.

While fragrance may be the biggest ingredient culprit that consumers have to watch out for, the coloring and labeling of packaging is also important to look at.  Personal care products that state "all-natural" or "organic" may not be free of harmful ingredients.  Additionally, packaging may be in green or neutral tones, free of fancy lettering to allude the consumer that the product is "all-natural" when in reality, it is far from it.

Though it is impossible to limit our exposure from ALL harmful ingredients, I do believe that firmer restrictions and regulations on cosmetics and personal care products are in order.  The Think Dirty app references many times how Canada and the EU have significantly stricter limits compared to the FDA.

I urge you to be your own advocate and educate yourself on the personal care products that you are using.  Don't be afraid to break up with your favorite brands - even if it is Bath & Body Works.

Do you know what ingredients are in your personal care items? Toxic, harmful chemicals are closer than you think. Read my post to learn more!