Bath and Body Works

Update: The latest petition by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has put Bath and Body Works in the spotlight for their use of Triclosan. Find out more at Take Two: Spread Love, Not Antibacterial Resistance! Also check out my recommendations for safe made in USA bath and body products.

When it comes to products I’m putting on my skin I’m very concerned about safety, choosing natural and organic products. But I have to admit my dirty little secret, my fear of germs. Yes, I know that research has shown that exposure to all kinds of bugs is beneficial to our immune systems. But after working for a few years as a nurse, I can’t shake the fear and repulsion of these microbes that can only be relieved by a squirt of alcohol-based hand cleanser.

Spread Love Not Germs Bath and Body Works

Normally I do not frequent Bath and Body Works, as a mere waft of the fumes from the ultra-scented products makes me gag. But there is one attraction that draws me in—a clean sink with a supply of antibacterial soaps, sprays, and lotions. The mall can be a nasty, dirty place, and the public restroom is no exception. When I need a good scrub, I head to Bath and Body Works. This time, I stopped to talk with an associate to find out about the sourcing of their products.

Item Found: None? Most Bath and Body works products contain no information about country of origin.   

Most Common Country of Origin: I found a label on one of their “I heart USA collection” soaps that said it was “fresh from America’s heartland,” followed by the perplexing “Made in Mexico.”

Made in USA Alternatives: See Safe Made in USA Bath and Body Products

Knowledge of Store Personnel: Poor. Associate had no idea where the products are made. I inquired about their product safety and was assured that the company does no testing on animals, but when I asked how they are tested for safety, he was clueless.

Corporate information: Owned by Limited Brands, a self-proclaimed “values-based company,” Bath and Body Works has a responsibility section highlighting their safety testing (but not how the products are tested), sourcing and labor standards and environmental initiatives. Their product information section does explain that their products may contain “low levels of formaldehyde-releasing preservatives,” as well as parabens and phalates, which they contend are all safe.

Overall: The company’s environmental efforts seem to be valid, with the Ohio headquarters recently getting a green makeover that achieved LEED certification. Their prohibition of animal testing is also backed by PETA, with Bath and Body Works appearing on their list of companies that do no animal testing. However, I remain concerned about the safety of the ingredients used in these and other conventional bath products. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics released a ”Toxic Tub Report” that tested children’s bath products, including Bath and Body Works products, for formaldehyde and other toxins. The products tested positive, and in a related study they found the products contained many chemicals not listed on their ingredients label.

As a consumer, nurse, and mom, I am concerned about the apparent lack of safety regulations or standards in the bath and body industry. Not only is there no information available about where products are being made, but their labels are not accurately portraying what is found inside the bottle.

What bath and baby products do you use for you and your family? What factors go into your selection? Have you found any products made in America?


  1. Courtney Wahowski says

    This is such a perplexing issue! I too have been a nurse for years and the germaphobe fear is slowly being replaced by the chemiphobe fear! In search to green my home and family I am in a constant struggle reading labels, reviews and safe product sites! One web-site I have found is Skin Deep ( It has helped a bit in figuring out what is in products and has a grading system that is easy to understand. I used to love B&BW anti-bac hand soaps but now that I know about triclosan and other chemicals they use I’ve decided to stay far away!
    I also have started to use Dr. Bronner’s soap and mixing it into water with some essential oils for a little fragrance to clean not only my kitchen & bathroom but also myself and 2 yr. old as well! Works great and is very safe!

    • madeinusachallenge says

      Thanks for the great resources. I checked out the Skin Deep database, but it was quite limited. I’ve been trying to avoid Triclosan for years due to antibiotic resistance. I’ve heard some great things about Dr. Bronner’s, I need to look more into their products. I use a solution of vinegar, baking soda, lemon and green tree oil as an all-purpose cleaner around the house… never thought of making my own to clean myself!!

  2. says

    Thanks for this post. I try to simplify things by buying only from companies I trust. This narrows down the choices quite significantly! The best personal care products to buy are those being made in the USA (locally if possible) by small, independently owned companies in the natural products sector — but yes you still have to look at labels, avoid fragrance, avoid triclosan and other toxins, and anti bacterial soaps in general are a marketing ploy. According to FDA, plain soap and water disinfects just as well.

    Stacy Malkan
    Co-founder, Campaign for Safe Cosmetics
    Author, “Not Just a Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry”
    Stacy Malkan recently posted..Brazilian Keratin Hair Straighteners

    • madeinusachallenge says

      Thanks for the info, Stacey! The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is a great effort. These products really need standardized regulation. Keep us posted on all the updates!

  3. says

    What an interesting post. I never really thought about the origins of B&BW and I am a regular consumer. Being in London, I have been forced to patronise Body Shop more since one cannot really get B&BW here. I do not really love their stuff but I appreciate the social responsibility behind their products, even with the whole L’Oreal takeover – they seem to have stood their ground.
    trininista recently posted..Day in the Life…the Summer Life

  4. David Gurevich says

    After going to a B&BW in Canada I am pleased to say that most of their products were labelled Made in USA. For some reason manufactures often don’t put made in USA on the domestic product, but do on the import. Such is the case with a lot of P&G products, which are never labelled here but most say Made in USA in Canada. Ultimately, I think that if a product does not state a specific nation, it is most likely Made in USA.

    • Joanne says

      David: You are very misinformed. Take a look at labeling the next time you go out as I have found most products are made in China. Yes, we have outsourced all our manufacturing overseas. It is a real challenge to find products made in the USA or Canada. My family had a challenge this Christmas to buy gifts from our own country. Challenge was not the word and we wonder why our economy is in the toilet. A lot of our jobs are overseas in Asia.
      Pass the word and good luck shopping for real US products.

  5. Nick says

    If you want to find out a lot about a company, all you need to do is look at their employment opportunities section. Given I could not find any manufacturing opportunities at all, I left to wonder if they outsource/offshore it, along with its quality control. In addition, I could not find a way to personally contact them because the products that my wife bought today did not have any information on where the products where made. Since I am concerned about purchasing the safest and best products that I can, I think I will encourage my wife to discontinue shopping at their store.

  6. Vicky says

    I love buying products made in USA to support our country’s economy. I agree that most Bath and Body Workds products do not have information about where they were made. I am thinking if they are made in USA, they would state “MADE IN USA” big. If the products are made in China, they try their their best to hide it as China products are famous for poor quality and in many cases are dangerous when it comes to food and cosmetics.

  7. Diane says

    Bath & Body Works customer service phone line. They said that their products are made in the USA unless otherwise labeled. He said that some products that are not made in the US are clearly labeled as such.

  8. Maris Fernandez says

    Above company manufactures products solely in the US and since 1985 have taken a firm stand against these bad ingredients like chlorine, ammonia, phosphates, etc. Check this out. If you need help, let me know.

  9. Jennifer says

    I just started selling Pink Papaya, they are 100% natural and 100% made in the USA. If they have a product that they can not get parts for they discontinue it until they can get it made here. I was very impressed with their products.

  10. says

    Great post Sarah, I think it’s amazing that many CSR efforts are solely focused on energy usage and not about the chemicals they are using in their products!

  11. says

    Try heavenly essence skin care. It’s absolutely made in America and we customize products. We have soaps that are all natural, and mostly natural, but we are honest and will tell you exactly what your getting. These are all made and formulated by a biochemist.

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  1. [...] rounded out with a bottle break in Burberry, fun in a tent in the toy store, and washing up in the Bath and Body Works’ sink. Thanks to Michele for the company, support and editorial advisement! Stay tuned for my write-ups [...]

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