Ingredient Toxicity in Bliss Body Butter

Ingredient Toxicity in Bliss Body Butter

I love Bliss Body Butter–especially the lemon + sage maximum moisture cream. I purchase it in the super-sized 14 fl oz bottles and grab as many as I can from the W. Unlike the other household products I use though, Bliss had ingredients I could not pronounce. Recently, I decided to look up every ingredient. My findings:

  1. Bliss uses different ingredients for the lemon + sage body butter they supply at W Hotels than they do for the bottles you can purchase
  2. The lemon + sag body butter that they supply at W Hotels is more toxic than the bottles you can purchase, although both contain allergens and trace carcinogens

I used the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Database toxicity classifications (1 = least toxic and 10 = most toxic) to standardize these classifications.

Bliss lemon + sage body butter (W Hotel version) ingredients rundown:
There are actually two formulas for W Hotel’s lemon + sage body butter; I have noted when the ingredients vary.

  • water
  • cocos nucifera (coconut) oil: 1
  • ethylhexyl palmitate: 1
  • vegetable oil: 1
  • cyclopentasiloxane: 3
  • cetearyl alcohol: 1
  • dimethicone: 3
  • polysorbate 60: 3
  • steareth-2: 3
  • phenoxyethanol (missing in one of the formulas): 4
  • dimethiconol: 1
  • propylene glycol: 3
  • hydroxyethylcellulose: 1
  • carbomer: 1
  • diazolidinyl urea (missing in one of the formulas): 6 (moderate hazard)
  • butylene glycol: 1
  • tocopherol: 1
  • limonene: 6 (moderate hazard)
  • sodium hydroxide: 3
  • methylparaben (missing in one of the formulas): 4
  • disodium EDTA: 1
  • sodium hyaluronate: 1
  • BHT (missing in one of the formulas): 4
  • citral: 7 (known allergen)
  • parfum: 8 (“parfum” can contain anything but it is likely to cause irritation)
  • propylparaben (missing in one of the formulas): 7 (developmental and reproductive toxicity)
  • chondrus crispus carrageenan extract: 1
  • retinyl palmitate: 9 (developmental and reproductive toxicity and cancer)
  • linalool: 5 (moderate allergen)
  • citric acid: 2
  • geraniol: 7 (known allergen)
  • calluna vulgaris extract: 1

Bliss lemon + sage body butter (retail version) ingredients rundown:

  • water
  • cocos nucifera (coconut) oil: 1
  • ethylhexyl palmitate: 1
  • glycine soja (soybean) oil: 1
  • butyrospermum parkii (shea) butter: 1
  • glyceryl stearate: 1
  • dimethicone: 3
  • stearic acid: 1
  • isopropyl myristate: 1
  • cetyl alcohol: 1
  • PEG-40 stearate: 3
  • trimethylolpropane triisostearate: 1
  • sorbitan tristearate: 1
  • phenoxyethanol: 4
  • retinyl palmitate: 9 (developmental and reproductive toxicity and cancer)
  • tocopherol: 1
  • butylene glycol: 1
  • triethanolamine: 5 (moderate allergen)
  • caprylyl glycol: 1
  • algae extract: 1
  • tetrasodium EDTA: 2
  • carbomer: 1
  • ethyl acetate: 1
  • cyclohexane: 2
  • arnica montana flower extract: 2
  • calluna vulgaris extract: 1
  • propylene glycol: 3
  • sodium hyaluronate: 1
  • citral: 7 (high allergen)
  • limonene: 6 (moderate hazard)
Bliss lemon + sage body butter (W Hotels)
Bliss lemon + sage body butter (retail)

As much as I love the smell and texture of Bliss, the toxic ingredients had to go. My go-to moisturizer is now organic shea butter, although I like jojoba oil and argan oil too. All three absorb into your skin quickly so they don’t leave hands or face feeling greasy and shea butter is most “lotion-like.” Shea butter and jojoba oil don’t have any smell (although unrefined shea butter does have a nutty smell and the texture is a bit gritty; I use L’occitane’s organic shea butter enriched with vitamin E oil because there is zero fragrance and the texture is the most creamy of any shea butter I have ever used before–but the major con is that it’s really pricey at $39 for 5.2 oz); argan oil has a little bit of a nutty scent too which some people like and some really dislike.


Washing Your Face with Raw Honey

If you have sensitive skin like me, you may have disliked every face wash you have ever tried. They are either too drying and leave the skin on your face feeling stretched taut; or they are too harsh and leave your skin red and irritated; or they leave residue that you can’t seem to get off unless you use yet another facial cleanser. Or, you may be concerned about the chemicals and want to reduce your exposure to possible toxins that can cause long-term damage to your body.

I wasn’t using anything but water to wash my face because I was afraid of causing an allergic reaction (see my “Naked” Face post,)  but I started washing my face with raw organic honey a few weeks ago when my skin was feeling “icky.” I first got the idea to do so when I saw other facial cleansers advertising honey as the magical ingredient in the product that “pulls dirt out of your pores.” Instead of purchasing an expensive facial cleanser that only contained a small percentage of honey, I thought I would do some research to see if others had success using just pure honey as a face wash. It seems that a few other bloggers had tried honey face washes with success so I gave it a go.

I was pleasantly surprised with how perfect honey acts as a face wash. It’s gentle and creamy but it also “tugs” and gently exfoliates. Then, it washes off extremely easily with water (since it dissolves quickly in water,) and leaves your face feeling clean, supple, and almost moisturized–never dry (I say almost moisturized because you still have to use a moisturizer–I use 100% organic Argan Oil.) Before trying honey as a face wash, I was afraid that the honey would get “stuck” on your face and it would impossible to rinse it off. I found the opposite to be true–honey washes off very easily, except if you accidentally got it into your hairline; then you should just shampoo your entire head to remove it.

If you want to give this honey wash a try, read on for tips on which kinds of honey and do-it-yourself tricks.

  1. Use raw, organic honey. This ensures you are getting the purest form and that all the living enzymes are preserved. When compared to most facial cleansers, raw honey is no more expensive than buying a comparably sized tube of face wash and it lasts for the same amount of time because you are using roughly the same amount with each wash. 100% raw, organic Mexican honey is $5.99 for a 16-ounce jar at Trader Joe’s. Scoop out 1 teaspoon of it and rub it in circular motions all over your face (do not wet your face first.) The honey’s natural stickiness exfoliates your skin. This won’t remove makeup but it will remove oil.
  2. Use raw organic Manuka honey if you have the budget for it. Manuka honey is produced by bees in New Zealand that pollinate the manuka bush (more commonly known to us as tea tree.) Similarly to tea tree oil, Manuka honey has antimicrobial properties and a UMF (Unique Manuka Factor) of 10+ is considered potent enough for medicinal uses. Healthcare professionals may recommend medical-grade Manuka honey to treat wounds. For use as a face wash, I have found that regular 10+ Manuka honey works great. Manuka honey smells less sweet and has an earthy tea tree oil smell. It doesn’t taste as good as regular honey so I recommend that you use Manuka honey exclusively for washing your face. The best price I have found for Manuka honey is also at Trader Joe’s: $10.99 for an 8.8-ounce jar of 10+ UMF ($1.25/oz.) However, I learned today that this product is seasonal and as of early March, it is out of stock until the next North American winter (New Zealand’s summer.) carries 100% Organic Manuka Honey Active 16+ by Wedderspoon year-round. This is the same brand that Whole Foods carries so you can do a quick price comparison between your local Whole Foods Market and to find the best price. I have found the price differential between Wedderspoon’s 16+ and 12+ to be negligible so I prefer the 16+ due its higher concentration of methylglyoxal, the antimicrobial compound specific to Manuka Honey.
    For reference, a Wedderspoon Raw Manuka Honey Active 12+, 8.8-ounce Jar costs $23.99, (which breaks down to $2.73/ounce,) compared to $24.99 for Wedderspoon Organic – 100% Raw Manuka Honey, active 16+, 8.8 oz honey ($2.84/ounce.) I still go for the much cheaper Trader Joe’s Manuka honey when it is in stock.
  3. Mix in baking soda for extra exfoliation. If you like the feeling of an apricot or bead scrub on your face, you should add baking soda to your honey to help remove blackheads and whiteheads. I like the scrub to feel “extra grainy” so I mix 1 part baking soda and 1 part honey, which leaves my face feeling more polished than if I used honey only alone. Do not mix a big batch at of baking soda and honey. I did that and the baking soda reacts with honey, turning the mixture into odd-smelling foamy gunk that probably is not harmful to put on your face, but also isn’t as pleasant as smooth and creamy honey. Mix 1 teaspoon of each together right before you are going to put it on your face for the best results. I find that the baking soda honey scrub does an excellent job of cleaning and removes more oil than honey alone. However, I usually follow up with a Manuka honey mask after the scrub to bring a little bit of moisture back to my skin since honey is a humectant.

Check out this Women’s Health article to see their recommendations for using honey as a facial cleanser too and let me know what you think if you try it yourself!

“Naked” face

I used to wear makeup every day–eyeliner, eye shadow, mascara, primer, concealer. Before I went to work out or to sweaty hot yoga class, I would remove my makeup, using both ends on 3 Q-tips that would each become blackened.

During one particularly hot day in the third week of August 2014, I walked out of hot yoga class with slightly red eyelids. I thought it was a minor irritation and that it would go away in due time. It wasn’t particularly painful; just a little bit red and could easily be covered up using eye shadow. I continued to wear makeup and returned to hot yoga a few days later. This time, when I left, not only were my eyelids pink and puffy, but also the skin under my eyes and the eyebrow area. This time, it stung and burned.

Over the course of 2.5 months, each week, I would have a “flare-up.” The first month and a half was the worse. The skin around my eyes would become inflamed. It stretched tightly and burned. I couldn’t put in contact lenses because my eyes had swollen shut. I looked like a panda except instead of cute black rings around my eyes, I had painful swelling skin that would peel off after 4 days when the swelling started to subside, only to flare-up again the next week, in a tormenting and cynical cycle.

I had stopped going to hot yoga after the second intense “flare-up” and went to 2 different doctors and 1 dermatologist. Nobody could definitively diagnose me and each medical professional plus my parents and friends recommended a different remedy. I was toting around every kind of oral allergy pill and 4 kinds of different anti-inflammatory topical creams by the end of September.

Never did I want to simply be healthy again. Nothing else was important at all. I had completely let go of wearing any makeup and I didn’t care what my clothes looked like. I hid in frumpy sweats and fleeces. I didn’t want to hang out with my friends because I was embarrassed by my red puffy face. On really bad days, I couldn’t go outside because it was so painful. I missed 2 days of work as I stayed at home to ice my face.

Negative thoughts ran through my mind. Would this be my life? Would I be ugly forever? Would my skin peel off so many times that it would permanently scar my face? Will I ever step foot in a heated yoga room ever again?

It is unclear whether the drugs that I was prescribed helped. In October, the “flare-ups” started to become more mild–just little patches instead of a whole panda face transformation. However, I kept taking Claritin and Allegra, one in the morning, and one in the evening, just in case. I threw away all my makeup and opened an eBay account to find second homes for my expensive Sigma and Chanel brushes.

After 3 weeks of being “flare-up” free, I decided the first thing I had to do was return to Be Luminous Yoga studio. I never stopped practicing yoga (it’s the one thing that is guaranteed to make you feel better, regardless of how terrible your day is.) Instead, I was visiting studios across the city and found a couple non-heated studios in Capitol Hill with instructors that I liked. So it wasn’t the yoga I missed. It was the network of girls that I had befriended at Be Luminous that I missed the most.

My first foray back into hot yoga after a 3 month hiatus in November was successful. I knew whatever my body had been reacting to had disappeared and I was “cured.” But not only was I cured from this unknown, awful auto-immune disease, I was cured from my insecurity of what my naked face looks like. I was so happy that my face didn’t look diseased that I loved what my makeup-less, naked face looked like.

Most women never leave the house without a coat of mascara, eyeliner, and concealer. Makeup gives the illusion of wider, more alert eyes, and a fresher, younger face. I always thought the prettiest girls were the ones that didn’t wear makeup, but I couldn’t be one of those girls because my natural lashes are too short and sparse, and my skin, too blemished.

Makeup has always been an illusion for yourself. When Adriana Lima looks at you from the television screen with her enchanting and seductive eyes surrounded by a forest of thick Maybelline lashes, you feel that you can be as beautiful as Adriana if only you also use the same catwalk mascara. When you actually look at women wearing lots of makeup close up (such as at Disney princesses on our most recent trip to Walt Disney World this Christmas,) they hardly look beautiful. The lashes are often stuck together and the foundation is thick, cakey, uneven or rubbing off somewhere. The beautiful people that men and women notice in real life are the ones who have beaming smiles, take care of their bodies, and wear no makeup to hide their face.

I wish I could have loved my naked face years ago, starting from when I was a teenager, first playing with lip gloss. It would have saved me a lot of time and money and preserved my skin from unnecessary chemicals, tugging, and abrasion, that surely aged it faster. If you are a woman reading this, try going to the supermarket without any makeup on and smile at strangers. I guarantee you will feel free and happy.