When you hear about The Body Shop, you probably think green consumerism, all natural and eco-friendly products. The cruelty-free, fair-trade, ethical and sustainable appeal has certainly generated success for the brand. But consumers and employees have begun to speak out about the so-called “all-natural” approach The Body Shop touts, and the loudest criticism is toward the chemicals found in many of their products. Here are five dangerous chemicals found in The Body Shop’s products.
The first chemical is found in The Body Shop Seaweed Moisture Lotion and The Body Shop Vitamin E Moisture Lotion. This paraben is also used as a preservative and also mimics estrogen. (2) If you see “Butyl,” “Benzoic Acid” or “Hydroxybenzoate” on the labels of any cosmetic care products, it is a sign it contains Butylparaben. (5)
Some studies have shown that parabens applied on the skin may react with UVB, which can damage DNA and increase skin aging. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) finds these kinds of parabens linked to organ toxicity, fertility problems, birth and developmental defects, and hormone disruption.
Some alternatives to The Body Shop’s lotions are Dr. Bronner’s Shikaki line of pump soaps that contain no preservatives or synthetic detergents. Loving Naturals, Be Natural Organics, and Just the Goods have no artificial ingredients whatsoever.
2. Fragrance Chemicals
When most people see their cosmetics are fragrance-free, a shrug of the shoulders is not uncommon. “Who cares if they put fragrance in my body lotion? It’s just to make the product smell good, right?” Wrong.
Fragrances often cause irritation of the skin, eyes, and lungs. Chemicals in fragrances have also been associated with allergic reactions and hormone disruption. The Food and Drug Administration warns it “has not assessed the safety of the vast majority” of chemicals used in fragrances. The most disturbing part is that many of the chemicals are not disclosed on the back packaging of The Body Shop’s products, are sometimes being lumped into the category of “fragrance.” (6)
Some fragrance-free skin care products include Clinique Moisture Surge, Burt’s Bees Sensitive Night, Aveeno Active and bareMinerals TRUE OASIS Gel Cream.
You’ll find oxybenzone in products with a sun protection factor (SPF), such as the Lip Care Line with SPF 15. For sunscreens to protect skin against the UV radiation that, the lotions or sprays work on both a mineral and chemical level. (
Studies indicate that some chemical UV filters may mimic hormones or cause skin allergies, which raises doubts about effects on human health from frequent application of sunscreen. “Oxybenzone absorbs through the skin in significant amounts. It contaminates the bodies of 97% of Americans according to research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.” (1)
Oxybenzone acts like estrogen in the body; it can alter sperm production in males and is associated with endometriosis in women. The largest concern, even listed on the sunscreensafety.info/ website is that oxybenzone causes cancer. A report from the University of California in 2006 revealed that under certain conditions, UV absorbing ingredients caused damage to nearby cells by releasing free radicals. (4)
However, the lead research scientist stated there wasn’t sufficient evidence to make a direct link from sunscreens to cancer, but if you are concerned about carcinogens in your sun care products, Rocky Mountain Sunscreen includes a wide range of antioxidants as a protection against free radical damage.
EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database has listed Propylparaben as a moderate-high danger, stating that they “mimic estrogen and can act as potential hormone (endocrine) system disruptors.” There is strong evidence that this synthetic product is a human immune toxicant, making it dangerous for vulnerable consumers such as the elderly, infants, and people who are susceptible to illness.
Many, if not most cosmetic companies use non-renewable petrochemicals, preservatives, and synthetic color. On the shelves of The Body Shop, you can find Propylparaben in 9 products, most of them sunscreen lotions such as the Vitamin E Moisture Lotion and the Pomegranate Firming Day Lotion, as well as the Beautifying Oil in Chocolate. (3)
Vichy has a line of widely-acclaimed paraben-free skin care products, and The David Suzuki Foundation has a do-it-yourself body lotion recipe completely free of chemicals.
Geraniol is found in The Body Shop Pomegranate Firming Day Lotion and The Body Shop Vitamin E Moisture Lotion. The chemical is an alcohol used in flavors such as peach, raspberry, grapefruit, red apple, plum, lime, orange, lemon, watermelon, pineapple, and blueberry.
The EWG has ranked Geraniol as a moderate-high overall hazard. Geraniol is a naturally occurring scent ingredient, so it is not manufactured as a scent or preservative by The Body Shop, unlike some of the other ingredients listed. It is a known human immune system toxicant or allergen according to the EU Banned and Restricted Fragrances. The Environment Canada Domestic Substance List classifies Geraniol to be safe for general use, despite it also being a restricted chemical and a suspected environmental toxin.
It is difficult to find Geraniol-free products on the market for skincare because it is naturally occurring, so it’s important to do your research on Geraniol and ensure you are using safe amounts.
Although most countries permit all ingredients in The Body Shop’s products, they are far from “all-natural” and are potentially harmful to human developmental, reproductive, hormone and immune systems. Keep in mind that not all of The Body Shop’s products contain the specified ingredients, and not all are ingredients in their products are harmful. Always look at the back label when shopping at The Body Shop to ensure that the goods you are purchasing are free from the above the products, or are in moderate amounts.
- The Body Shop. (n.d.). Retrieved October 14, 2016
- The BodyShop in the McSpotlight. (n.d.). Retrieved October 14, 2016
- EC (Environment Canada). 2008. Domestic Substances List Categorization. Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) Environmental Registry.
- About Fragrances – IFRA North America. (n.d.). Retrieved October 14, 2016
- Sheer, R., & Moss, D. (2012, January 24). Scent of Danger: Are There Toxic Ingredients in Perfumes and Colognes? Retrieved October 14, 2016
- Bridges, B. (2002). Fragrance: Emerging health and environmental concerns. Flavour and Fragrance Journal, 17(5), 361-371. doi:10.1002/ffj.1106
- Klaschka, U. (2012). Dangerous cosmetics – criteria for classification, labelling and packaging (EC 1272/2008) applied to personal care products. Environ Sci Eur Environmental Sciences Europe, 24(1), 37. doi:10.1186/2190-4715-24-37