We’ve been getting this question a lot since I released this years Safer Sunscreen Cheat Sheet so I wanted to clarify my decision to exclude it in this years list. I want to preface this by saying one statement. I do not know everything. See? I’m just like you. But I spend a lot of time trying to learn more and more about the topics I cover here at SafeMama. I care deeply about the safety of products and food. But this is also a learning process for me too. Since I published the first cheat sheet I learned a lot about ingredients, chemical processing, possible contamination from that processing, and about green washing. So when I decided to redo all our cheat sheets for 2010 I wanted to carry this new knowledge through.
One of those ingredients is phenoxyethanol. Phenoxyethanol is a preservative used by many “natural” brands as an alternative to parabens. So to the novice ingredients reader, they glance at the back and they don’t see the telltale parabens and think they have something much safer. In some ways they probably do.
In comparison to parabens, trace amounts of phenoxyethanol in a product isn’t too much of a concern. MY concern however, is that say you use anywhere from 10 – 20 products a day and they all contain phenoxyethanol. It starts to add up. All skin care items with the ingredient “water” in them require some kind of preservation method to prevent the growth of bacteria. Phenoxyethanol is one of the preservatives that gets used in lieu of parabens. Phenoxyethanol is also used as a stabilizer in perfumes. The ingredient is processed with chemicals that are known carcinogens so there is some concern with contamination. It is also an irritant to the skin, eyes and lungs as well as restricted from use in cosmetics in Japan and the European Union.
Much to my dismay, TruKid’s Sunny Days Sunscreen contains phenoxyethanol. Does that mean I hate TruKid? No, of course not. I’ve raved about them in the past and still think this and all their products are much better alternatives to most mainstream kids products. TruKids brand is free of parabens, phthalates, dioxanes, SLS and is rated well in Skin Deep. But I’ve come to learn that just because Skin Deep rates it well, doesn’t mean I do. I can’t help but want the best for all of us. Perhaps TruKid will reformulate some day and they’ll be back in my good graces. But until then, I’ll stick with their Sunny Days Sun Stick which has a better ingredients list.