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?