BB Cream: Really the "Best" New Thing in Beauty?

>> Monday, March 19, 2012

Essance's BB Cream.
Essance's BB Cream. (Photo credit: JAY ZHANG)

A friend of mine was asking about "BB Cream" which is apparently an upcoming beauty trend from Asia. There are a lot of products that fall in this category, so I googled around and took a closer look at one of the first few that I found, that was talked about on blogs.  I think the ingredients speak for themselves, and I hope the time spent investigating this list is worth it at least to someone.

Here's a TRANSLATION of the ingredients in "Etude House BB Magic Cream SPF30 PA++":

  • Water (we're going to go with "safe" on this one)
  • Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate (known to produce excess reactive oxygen species that can interfere with cellular signaling, cause mutations, and lead to cell death)
  • propylene glycol (Classified as expected to be toxic or harmful/Classified as skin irritant)
  • 4-Methylbenzylidene Camphor (Human endocrine disruptor - strong evidence)
  • Titanium Dioxide (potentially controversial)
  • Cetyl Ethylhexanoate (Not much known, but suspected safe)
  • Mineral Oil (a liquid mixture of hydrocarbons obtained from petroleum)
  • Butylene Glycol (Human irritant - strong evidence)
  • Stearic Acid (Suspected to be an environmental toxin BUT not likely to be carcinogenic/toxic/harmful in humans)
  • Isopropyl Myristate (dries the skin and hair, and creates cracks and fissures in the skin, which encourage bacterial growth)
  • Cetyl Alcohol (Despite the fact that the CIR Expert Panel recognizes this ingredient as non-irritating, many dermatologists recommend that individuals with sensitive/irritated skin avoid it)
  • Polysorbate 60 (Restricted in cosmetics; also dually used in Cool Whip and some sexual lubricants!; may be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, a probable carcinogen, which readily penetrates the skin)
  • Sorbitan Stearate (Suspected to be an environmental toxin, not expected to be potentially toxic or harmful [in humans])
  • Glyceryl Stearate (very mild irritant and can cause allergic reactions; FDA Generally Recognized as Safe)
  • Dimethicone (raises no health concern, but listed as an "unacceptable" ingredient in Whole Foods Organic Body Care products standards)
  • Dipentaerythrityl hexahydroxystearate (generally okay)
  • Polyacrylate-13 (generally okay)
  • CI 77492 (a pigment; not a big deal)
  • Methylparaben (Teach yourself to read the word "paraben" as "do not use"; Human endocrine disruptor - strong evidence, Human skin toxicant - strong evidence, Interferes with gene expresion, etc)
  • Triethanol amine (Did you think parabens were bad?  STAY AWAY! Cancer! Danger! Also, widely used in household detergents and polishes, .. agricultural herbicides, .. petroleum demulsifiers, synthetic resins, plasticizers, adhesives, and sealants.)
  • Polyisobutene (medium human health priority, expected to be toxic or harmful, BUT the CIR Expert Panel does not believe these large, mostly insoluble polymers present any risks in the practices of use and concentration as described in this safety assessment)
  • Caviar (Seriously? Another ingredient besides water that anyone can understand? Wow. This is probably a really great thing to be putting on your skin. Fish oils are generally good for you.)
  • Tocopheryl Acetate (a low cancer risk and Human skin toxicant - strong evidence)
  • Chlorphenesin (has been reported to cause irritation and contact dermatitis in many, particularly those with sensitive & dry skin. In addition, research has shown it relax the skeletal muscle, depress the central nervous system and cause respiratory depression (slow or shallow breathing) in infants.)
  • Propylparaben (Reproductive toxicity, cancer, Human endocrine disruptor - strong evidence, Human skin toxicant - strong evidence, Limited evidence of sense organ toxicity, Wildlife and environmental toxicity. The second paraben in the list. Typically parabens are used at levels ranging from 0.01 to 0.3% - so now you're up to a possible .6% total paraben volume)
  • CI 77491 (iron oxide; pigment)
  • Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber Oil)
  • Eucalyptus globulus (Eucalyptus Oil)
  • Acrylates/C10-30 alkyl acrylate crosspolymer (meh)
  • Ethylparaben (See this PARABEN stuff? Third time in the list; now we're up to .9%  You should already have thrown your BB cream away by now.)
  • Pueraria lobata (Kudzu.  It's probably safe, but read this.)
  • Morus Alba (White Mulberry. Not much to report)
  • Diospyros kaki (Japanese Persimmon)
  • Cinnamomum cassia (It's cinnamon)
  • Artemisia princeps (Japanese mugwort)
  • Chrysanthellum Indicum Extract (Golden Chamomile)
  • Camellia Sinensis (Tea plant)
  • Fragrance (Your guess is as good as mine... but if we're going according to the Cosmetics Database, stay away!  Moderate evidence of human neurotoxicity / Known human immune system toxicant)
  • Polysorbate 20 (See Polysorbate 60, above)
  • CI 77499 (Another pigment. Made of inorganic iron oxides)
  • Butylparaben (a FOURTH paraben, bringing us to a possible total of 1.2% paraben level in the ingredients list. Are you going to use this stuff on your skin every day? How many times do you need to read the word "cancer"?)
  • Disodium EDTA (Penetration enhancer, meaning it helps all those other bad things enter your skin more easily.)
  • BHT (Human skin toxicant - strong evidence)
  • hexastearate (meh)
  • hexarosinate (meh)

That's it. That's a mouthful, isn't it? Of course, don't put it in your mouth.  Don't even put it on your skin.  If you'd like to learn more, watch the VERY informative Story of Cosmetics and click Like on The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.
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Psychic Lunch was founded in 2009 by a nerd and father who wants people to be healthy. The information on this site is researched, but should be considered opinion; that is, you should always do your own research and come to your own conclusions about what is and what is not healthy. Products endorsed on this site are actually believed in and used by the author.


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