There has been some drama going on around Facebook regarding a reformulation of the product line by California Baby. Before you panic I wanted to present the facts to you so that you may make an informed decision.  Since I’m Mrs Bad News Bear around here I’ll just simply fill you all in and you can do what you want with that information.

Several months ago a friend/reader (Hi Cecelia!) messaged me on Facebook asking me if I noticed that California Baby Shampoo now contained sodium benzoate, when before, it did not.   I wasn’t fully aware but I checked and sure enough this was the case.  I don’t follow each skin care line and monitor their ingredients lists daily so this was news to me.  I didn’t think enough of it at the time until yesterday when I wandered on to California Baby’s Facebook page and saw a large quantity of angry comments about relabeling and calendula creams and miscommunication and changing of calendula and burns and …. wow.  It’s a little out of control so I want to sort out the information provided to us.

  • CA Baby added sodium benzoate to their shampoos and body washes, hand soaps, and bubble products.  It’s not in every product  but several now feature this ingredient.  They have an explanation as to why this ingredient was added in their statement (which has now been deleted). Updated:  Many of the products have been reformulated but these are the ones who have had sodium benzoate added. Other ingredients have also been changed with the new labeling so please check your products if you are having any concerns.
  • Some products have had up to 10 ingredients changed or altered.  (Thank you Kaitlyn!)
  • CA Baby changed some ingredients in their calendula creams, including preservatives (no sodium benoate but caprylhydroxamic acid and glyceryl caprylate which are “naturally derived from coconut”)
  • They removed safflower oil and replaced it with “organically grown canola oil”.
  • They switched their calendula oil to a more concentrated calendula oil that they make in-house – it’s darker in color and has a slightly different smell.  They are using less of it because of it’s increased potency and moved it down the ingredients list accordingly.
  • CA Baby did not announce any reformulations immediately which caused some uproar on the Internet. They have apologized and made a statement on their FB Wall (It was deleted).  They said they have updated all the ingredients lists on their website.  The only list I see missing is for the hair detangler.
  • Comments regarding reactions to their creams and complaints were posted to the CA Baby facebook wall and deleted.
  • Many parents contacted CA Baby to complain about the reactions and say that their complaints were waved off and the company has told them that it was the “same great product it has always been” instead of informing them of a reformulation. (This is what I’ve been told by parents, I’m not stating it as a fact. Just to cover my butt legally – I did not witness these calls.)

You can read about the above points in California Baby’s Facebook statement. (Deleted.)

I got a handful of emails from moms telling me that their babies were experiencing burns and rashes after using their new formula calendula creams and body washes, etc.  CA Baby addressed it in their statement which is now gone,  but I cannot say for certain why a reaction has occurred. (Because I wasn’t there – it would be false of me to make assumptions.. I’m not suggesting I don’t believe you that you had a reaction, because I do. I just can’t comment on why you had reactions.)

Updated: I can only say, if you are experiencing this, stop using it and try something that doesn’t contain any essential oils. (I’m suggesting this because if you are having a reaction to any cream or lotion, switching to something very basic is a good idea.  There is also Rosemary, Lavender and Clary Sage oils in the Calendula Cream as listed. There is no telling what is to blame.  All we know is that this product caused a reaction for some people.)   I had always previously recommended their calendula cream for rashes and eczema and if its working for you I don’t see any reason to stop. (Unless you are purely disgusted by their practices then by all means!)  But if you are not comfortable with it, there are other safe skin care products and techniques you can try.

Stephanie of Bubble & Bee Organics also has posted a very poignant article called Why Companies Reformulate that talks about why things like this occur.

Melinda from one of my favorite companies Earth Mama Angel Baby has published an article on the topic of reformulations as well.

 Updated: I want to mention that I was not aware of the severity of the complaints being removed or about  the responses from the CA Baby company when they received complaints.  I think CA Baby made some very bad mistakes in handling this situation and it is disappointing.  My goal with this post was to help answer a few questions I was receiving regarding the formulas, not to defend CA Baby.  I am on your side and my only mission on SafeMama is to help people find answers.

I am compiling some recommendations on creams that may be suitable replacements for the CA Baby Calendula Cream.  In the meantime, if you are in search of a new product line to use, please visit my Safer Skin Care Cheat Sheet for ideas.

Posted by: SafeMama Kathy on January 21, 2012

Comments

44 Responses to “California Baby Reformulation Drama”

  1. Marciemom on January 21st, 2012 4:07 pm

    Thanks for presenting this so clearly! I’m a mom with eczema baby n I shall check my California baby cream for the ingredients mentioned – gift from friend sometime ago

  2. Brie on January 21st, 2012 5:46 pm

    Thanks for clarifying!

  3. Melanie Meyers on January 21st, 2012 6:52 pm

    I appreciate the clarification; however, CA Baby saying the calendula they use is more potent so they need less of it sounds a little fishy to me. Calendula is expensive so what’s to say they aren’t just using less to increase profits?? Calendula used to be the first ingredient list after water and now it’s *8th*!!! I’m supposed to believe the calendula they are now using is *that* much more potent to warrant using *that* much less? I’m skeptical. The whole reason I used their calendula cream was because similar products with calendula listed 6th or further down on the ingredient list did nothing to help my daughter’s severe eczema. Only CA Baby made a difference, and there is no comparable product out there with calendula as the first non-water ingredient that I can find–I’ve been searching! The real question is, “if it’s not broken; why fix it?” The type of consumers who buy CA Baby are the type who are going to read labels and call you out if you change something major like this and CA Baby had to know that its consumers would notice and not be happy–otherwise they are incredibly naive. The calendula cream was such a beautiful thing; everyone loved it–why mess with it? Maybe the article you link explains what on earth would motivate such a change…

  4. Nicole M on January 21st, 2012 7:10 pm

    Thank you for the clarification. I was wondering what all the hubbub was about as well. I can’t believe they replaced safflower oil with canola. That alone is enough to make me rethink using their products. Bummer.

  5. Brie on January 21st, 2012 7:57 pm

    I had a tub of the “new formula” calendula cream just sitting here unopened, so I decided to try it out before I tried it on my daughter. I put some on my hand and arm, and I see what people are talking about, it does burn a little. Not a lot, but just a very, very slight burning sensation. Who knows what that would feel like on a sensitive baby’s skin…especially using it day after day. That is just weird, did they not test it after they reformulated?

  6. Sandra on January 21st, 2012 8:44 pm

    Hi Joyce;

    I posted this in response to you over at their wall, but since you actually blogged it, I thought this would be easier for you, so pasted it here. Personally, I think this is a learning lesson for many companies, about why it’s easier if you change your ingredients, to include some kind of attention-getting design on your new label. Had they done that, all of this would likely have not happened, because if a person can see a starburst saying “New Formula” and you don’t look at the ingredient list, well, then it’s your own fault. ;-)

    This was my reply on their wall to you:

    One point you missed in your sum-up, is that when people experienced reactions and came here (the CB wall) or called in to ask if they’d changed the ingredients, they lied and answered that they hadn’t. I personally think that seems to be the biggest cause of the uproar. They have not yet apologized for those lies, they have, (despite some of us having taken screen captures of the exchanges or possessing communication to prove that they did lie to people) insisted they *didn’t* lie.

    Based on their choice of *behaviour* people are now unsure of what they can believe or trust and because many of these people have supported the company for years and perhaps even before they were known… this is making people feel very, very betrayed and upset. I think that is an understandable reaction.

    Many of us would think nothing of challenging a ‘big’ company like J&J this way, yet when a smaller company does something wrong, really… it is just as fair to be just as tough on them. We can’t have one set of rules for big companies and another set of rules for smaller companies What’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong and it is always wrong to lie to your customers whether you are a big company or a small company!

  7. Michelle on January 22nd, 2012 12:24 am

    Were you aware that California Baby initially LIED to us, denying that the formula was changed, stating that it was “the SAME great product”? Or that once they were forced to admit the ingredient labels were in fact different, circled around questions and just kept stating “it is safe.” Or that they are deleting and blocking parents who are trying to voice valid concerns? Many parents are writing on the CB FB wall with concerns/questions/personal experiences (some with pics!) of the rashes/hives/chemical burns resulting from the new product. Only to have their posts deleted and find themselves blocked.
    Check out this FB page created in response to the many of us who have had our voices silenced by CB.

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/California-Baby-Complaints/241914029218867

  8. Informed Mother on January 22nd, 2012 7:20 am

    People have put great trust and reliance into this brand for its “allergy-friendliness.” They rely on this brand to be honest and up to date with changes to product formulations. It is one thing to be “hypoallergenic” and another entirely to place on your label “ALLERY FREE” and suddenly start shifting and adding ingredients without informing your customers. They gained their following and success on their use of safe, effective, and gentle ingredients. Some of the ingredients in the new formulation are everything but. Children (and adults) are having adverse reactions, regardless of the fact that the company is unwilling to consider that reality. It IS happening. This goes well beyond a few isolated events. I’ve personally counted well over 75 UNIQUE postings from concerned mothers with children suffering from hives, welts, rashes, burns, and/or stinging sensations since buying the new label. These are the very mothers who received replies from the company stating that (direct quotes) “Nope, the formula hasn’t changed! :)” and “I hear ya…BUT, the products have NOT changed……….” and were told to consider weather changes for the cause of the reactions. Of course, to California Baby’s benefit, these postings have all since been removed, along with the very long trail of CaBaby’s blatant deception in this whole ordeal. Another mom asks, “Why would you start distributing the new products with NO announcement whatsoever, and then for MONTHS claim to questioning parents that NO changes had been made?” California Baby’s take on this? “This cream hasn’t changed — the tweaks did not alter the core formulation — the changes were minor.” How can you say that there have been NO changes and then turn around and say they were minor? Adding synthetic preservatives and switching out other ingredients entirely (safflower oil for canola, for one) is certainly significant enough that as a long-time loyal customer, I feel the right to be informed, at LEAST by alerting so on the label! (New formulation graphics should have been incorporated into the labeling just out of respect for their client base!) Rather than addressing concerned parents and genuinely apologizing for the harm they unwittingly caused, they profess, “Sorry if you feel you were lied to, we certainly did not lie. It maybe that our definition of ‘change’ is different.” Change is change. Did you alter your products in any way? Yes? Then they’ve changed. There’s no gray area here. Many customers have opted to leave simply for the way the company has handled this matter. One mom writes, “It is dis-heartening that CB has taken a defensive tone with their customer base when simple consumer information was inaccurately disclosed. As a mother of two young boys who advocated it to friends and family, I’m embarrassed for their (lack of) ethical regard to families asking questions or having honest input. They should be ashamed of their distortion of a bottom line business choice. ” and further, “I’m disgusted by how they’ve handled legitimate HEALTH concerns & the shady addition of not so natural products. People trusted them enough not to comb over the ingredients as they said they’d never change–lies. Now, they’re trying to stop the spread of the TRUTH to salvage what little fan base they have left.”

    Bottom line is this: California Baby has blatantly ignored legitimate claims of adverse reactions and grossly deceived their once loyal customer base. This is terrible business, and deservingly has resulted in the internet uproar it is today. It is “out of control” as you state because Calififornia Baby has made it such… the parents have NOTHING to gain here.

  9. SafeMama Kathy on January 22nd, 2012 7:21 am

    Hey Michelle, No I was not aware of that. I did hear a great deal of people saying that they were not being honest but I wasn’t involved initially so I didn’t want to make assumptions. It’s unfortunate that they chose to handle things this way. Thanks for the comment! I hope your little ones did not have reactions to the new products… I hate hearing that. :(

  10. Jessica on January 22nd, 2012 7:25 am

    More to consider…

    People have put great trust and reliance into this brand for its “allergy-friendliness.” They rely on this brand to be honest and up to date with changes to product formulations. It is one thing to be “hypoallergenic” and another entirely to place on your label “ALLERY FREE” and suddenly start shifting and adding ingredients without informing your customers. They gained their following and success on their use of safe, effective, and gentle ingredients. Some of the ingredients in the new formulation are everything but. Children (and adults) are having adverse reactions, regardless of the fact that the company is unwilling to consider that reality. It IS happening. This goes well beyond a few isolated events. I’ve personally counted well over 75 UNIQUE postings from concerned mothers with children suffering from hives, welts, rashes, burns, and/or stinging sensations since buying the new label. These are the very mothers who received replies from the company stating that (direct quotes) “Nope, the formula hasn’t changed! :)” and “I hear ya…BUT, the products have NOT changed……….” and were told to consider weather changes for the cause of the reactions. Of course, to California Baby’s benefit, these postings have all since been removed, along with the very long trail of CaBaby’s blatant deception in this whole ordeal. Another mom asks, “Why would you start distributing the new products with NO announcement whatsoever, and then for MONTHS claim to questioning parents that NO changes had been made?” California Baby’s take on this? “This cream hasn’t changed — the tweaks did not alter the core formulation — the changes were minor.” How can you say that there have been NO changes and then turn around and say they were minor? Adding synthetic preservatives and switching out other ingredients entirely (safflower oil for canola, for one) is certainly significant enough that as a long-time loyal customer, I feel the right to be informed, at LEAST by alerting so on the label! (New formulation graphics should have been incorporated into the labeling just out of respect for their client base!) Rather than addressing concerned parents and genuinely apologizing for the harm they unwittingly caused, they profess, “Sorry if you feel you were lied to, we certainly did not lie. It maybe that our definition of ‘change’ is different.” Change is change. Did you alter your products in any way? Yes? Then they’ve changed. There’s no gray area here. Many customers have opted to leave simply for the way the company has handled this matter. One mom writes, “It is dis-heartening that CB has taken a defensive tone with their customer base when simple consumer information was inaccurately disclosed. As a mother of two young boys who advocated it to friends and family, I’m embarrassed for their (lack of) ethical regard to families asking questions or having honest input. They should be ashamed of their distortion of a bottom line business choice. ” and further, “I’m disgusted by how they’ve handled legitimate HEALTH concerns & the shady addition of not so natural products. People trusted them enough not to comb over the ingredients as they said they’d never change–lies. Now, they’re trying to stop the spread of the TRUTH to salvage what little fan base they have left.”

    Bottom line is this: California Baby has blatantly ignored legitimate claims of adverse reactions, and grossly deceived their once loyal customer base. This is terrible business, and deservingly has resulted in the internet uproar it is today. It is “out of control” as you state because Calififornia Baby has made it such… the parents have NOTHING to gain here.

  11. SafeMama Kathy on January 22nd, 2012 7:50 am

    Thank you Jessica for taking the time to explain some of the details of this situation. The more i learn, the more disappointed I become. This is truly a huge mishandling on the part of CA Baby. So so disappointing.

  12. SafeMama Kathy on January 22nd, 2012 7:53 am

    Thank you Informed Mother for your comments. Truly disappointing. Unfortunately this is not a total surprise to me… I’ve had trouble with their customer service in the past as well. *sigh*

  13. Jessica on January 22nd, 2012 8:02 am

    Kathy, I apologize for the double comment above… it did not seem to post the first time around.

    Thank you for your consideration and attention to this matter, as well. I’ve always enjoyed your website and consider it a great resource to moms for bettering our surroundings and choosing safer products for our family. Thank you for doing what you do!

  14. SafeMama Kathy on January 22nd, 2012 8:20 am

    Also, Informed Mother – It was out of control, as you said because of the involvement of CB and their deletion of comments and photos. Readers who are only now discovering this situation are overwhelmed and now misinformed. I’m trying my best to sort it out so people can get a handle on what’s really happening. The more I read, the more complicated it becomes (and the more saddened I am). Thank you again for your comment and contribution to this thread. It really does help me to hear everyone’s side of the story.

  15. SafeMama Kathy on January 22nd, 2012 8:21 am

    Thank YOU Jessica!

  16. Sharee on January 22nd, 2012 10:33 am

    I have used Cbaby because it
    1. had safe ingredients
    2. didn’t make me or my boys break out
    3. was easily available

    I, personally, am no longer a custumer of any of their products for the following reasons:
    1. no longer safe ingredients
    2. Makes my skin (and my youngest) itch and dry out (as before it wouldn’t — even during cold harsh winters — and we are having an actually very mild winter this year)
    3. Their blatant lies, disreguard for the possible impact on their customers (some just little babies), and their treatment of those that were injured do to the changes. I’m wondering if they thought they could pull a fast one on the custumers and no one would notice???
    4. I’ve lost complete trust in them.

    Moving on to buying all my products (for my entire family) from bubble and bee organics and earth mama angel baby.

  17. stephanie on January 22nd, 2012 12:18 pm

    Thank you so much for this!

  18. Michelle on January 22nd, 2012 12:40 pm

    Thank you for listening to us and updating! Your site is a great resource for moms and dads!

    It is truly disheartening and down right scary to trust a company with the health and well being of our kids and have something like this happen.
    Many many parents of kids with multiple allergies and LIFE THREATENING allergies TRUSTED CB products. The label changed ever so slightly with cutesy little sun addition but NOTHING was every labelled that the formula was new and improved.

    Parents have been posting up for weeks stating their kids (and themselves) were experiencing burning, rashes, hives, eczema flare ups, and even chemical burns. They asked if anything changed in the product (hard to tell – who keeps the old empty bottle lying around to compare?) and were repeatedly told NO. Even after hearing that parents were having issues and babies were being harmed.

    Instead CB denies any product changes, and babies continued to be harmed as a result of this blatant lying. I have a HUGE problem with that! Once enough of us got vocal (and I LISTED the ingredients that differed on the Sensitive Body Wash) they were forced to acknowledge that they changed a few ingredients but still swore “it did NOT change the product.” Um, yes it did.

    They added some of my son’s ALLERGENS to the product. He had a nasty rash that started right after we opened the new bottle of body wash. Disgusting raw eczema flare up. Luckily, it was now and not 2 years ago when he was SUPER allergic to this ingredient and it could have sent us to the ER. Even my skin was dry, itchy and actually burned cuz it was so irritated. I NEVER had issues like that. Within 2 days of stopping the CB, his rash and eczema are dramatically improving. He doesn’t complain about his body burning anymore. My skin felt better the first day!

    I think about the reaction that I had and that my son had and I am thankful. I have seen the pictures Moms are sharing of horrific chemical burns and nasty nasty rashes. Some on mere babies. We trust this product for newborn babies! Little precious babies who can not speak up like my 6yo and tell us that they itch and burn. Instead, they suffer and their parents, unknowingly, continue to use products on them that are hurting them. Until it causes serious irritation or burns – but most of us never considered at first that our beloved CB was the cause!

    I wish they had done more testing and product development before releasing the new product.

    I wish they had labelled their product to reflect it was a new formula and alert us parents to that. Especially when they market themselves as ALLERGY SAFE – children’s lives can depend on that safety.

    Most of all I wish they hadn’t lied. I wish that they didn’t continue to lie now. I don’t understand the blatant lies and denial of issues with the products. I don’t understand how they think it is OK to delete and block any parent who tries to post concerns or share negative experiences. And then deny doing just that.

  19. Andrea on January 22nd, 2012 1:08 pm

    Very saddened to hear this. Thanks so much to safemama for keeping me informed, I didn’t know about this! Calendula Cream is the only thing that worked for my 1 year old’s excema last winter. We still have an old jar, as her skin is much better now….but in case of flare-ups, do you have recommendation for an alternative to their Calendula Cream? My little one has VERY sensitive skin and can’t tolerate much. Thankfully we didn’t buy any of the new stuff!

  20. Jordy on January 22nd, 2012 2:19 pm

    I have been using CA baby products for several years on my kids and myself. I have liked their products and more importantly I trusted the company. I no longer trust this company and will switch my family to other products from a company that shows integrity 100 percent of the time. It’s never ok to mislead, cover up, hide, uniform or otherwise. It’s a shame that they handled this situation so poorly. Transparency is always the right solution, even when it’s not the easiest.

  21. Julie on January 22nd, 2012 2:27 pm

    Sounds like yet another company trying increase profit by decreasing an expensive active ingredient and “reformulating”. And after hearing about how the company handled the complaints, I will never purchase a thing from them ever again!

  22. Sheri milliken on January 22nd, 2012 3:46 pm

    Ohhhh nooo!! It was added to the super sensitive…….. My 17 yr old uses this product b/c he was recently diagnosed with chemical allergies…. I’m going to have to run this one by his dermatologist!!!! This is the only product he can use safely so far….. Why did they have to put that in the super sensitive?!?! :-(

  23. kaitlyn on January 22nd, 2012 4:28 pm

    The above comments have touched on many of my concerns. What I would like to add about the internet uproar and drama is this:

    Parents have been quietly and respectfully calling, emailing, and posting on CB’s FB wall for months asking about product changes due to adverse reactions, ingredient concerns, and general concerns about the perceived reduced quality of ingredients used in new formulations. Parents have been continually assured “the products have NOT changed” and “there have been NO changes”. The words ‘not’ and ‘no’ are in all caps not b/c I am emphasizing them, rather that is how CB responded. Parents began asking specifically when CB was going to update the ingredient lists on their website, when they were going to update their FB page and let customers know about the changes. Again, nothing. Adverse reactions and differences in texture, smell, and quality of lotions were blamed on the weather and on “crop differences found in natural products”. It was suggested parents were “blowing things out of proportion”.

    At this point, CB has taken down all parent wall posts, leaving only their own. This has made it difficult to understand the true chronology of events that have happened and gives the illusion of them releasing information on their own goodwill. In addition, it makes the parent responses look quite exaggerated and heightened if one is not aware of how long parents have been asking CB to do the right things.

    This is not just about the change in ingredients, it is about the fact that CB blatantly lied to their customers over a two month time span. When a parent calls stating, or posts that their child has developed a rash and asks if there have been any changes, the ONLY truthful way CB can respond is “yes”. There is no way around this. They cannot blame the fact that they are a small company for this. They intentionally lied to parents regarding their ingredients. CB could have done the right thing and replied honestly to parents at any juncture these past 2 months. They chose not to. Each time they chose to not do the right thing, the volume and intensity of parent concerns increased. This Web uproar and drama is the direct result of CB’s unethical behavior, blatant lies, and inaction. They had two months to do the right thing, to respond to parents honestly, yet they chose not to….and the response to that has been overwhelming.

  24. kaitlyn on January 22nd, 2012 8:16 pm

    clarification on formula changes:

    If a consumer were to read the information provided by CB, they would assume that only 1 or 2 ingredients had been altered in a few of their products. When CB finally got around to admitting some changes, they claimed to have simply upgraded and improved, resulting in minor changes.

    My family used the super sensitive everyday lotion, and the super sensitive shampoo and body wash. Those are the only 2 products I can speak for.

    With the super-sensitive lotion, the “new” formula has 17 ingredients, the “old” had only 12. In the “new” formula, 11 brand new ingredients were added, and 6 of the “old” formula ingredients were taken out. Out of 17 ingredients, only 6 were in the original formula. Does this sound like a “minor” change. 11 brand new ingredients + 6 removed= 17 changes. In the new formula, the top 3 ingredients are now water, stearic acid, and cetyl alcohol.

    I have not gotten around to counting and comparing the ingredients in the super-sensitive wash, and won’t. I can tell you that in reading through them, there have been just as many changes. For these 2 products, the changes were truly complete reformulations.

    My family is extremely lucky in that we have no allergies or skin conditions. We purchased CB products b/c we believed in the company, and we try to buy as natural and organic, as well as earth-friendly as we can. It is just important to us. I also liked supporting a mom-run company that seemed to be all about doing the right things and seemed to share a philosophy similar to my own. Obviously based on my post above, I have zero respect left for this company given their behavior the last 2 months.

    I will say the first time we tried the “new” lotion, my husband and I both immediately noticed a difference. I was really surprised my husband did….he’s not really into body lotions, etc. The new formula is definitely thinner, and does not moisturize nearly as well. My hands feel dried out soon after using it. My own explanation is the addition of the stearic acid and cetyl alcohol in large enough quantities to be so high on the ingredient list, as well as taking out the organic aloe vera. We have not had adverse reaction; we have just been displeased that it doesn’t moisturize well and with what we perceive to be much cheaper ingredients.

    I hope this helps someone. Please do check your own individual products as well. These reformulations are really much more extensive than the company has let on. I refuse to pay the high prices for what I feel is a much cheapened version of the old lotion, and one that does not work nearly as well.

  25. Erin Ely on January 22nd, 2012 8:29 pm

    it seems they have changed ingredients to cut down on the expense of the ingredients they have been using…. this is the thing, if you are looking for inexpensive products or products that cost less you are going to have to deal with getting ingredients that are not food standard or top quality.
    If you’re looking for another line that is legitimately clean then use Earth Momma Angel Baby http://www.earthmamaangelbaby.com/,

    she is committed to clean products and you know she’s not going to use any sodium benzoate as a preservative.

    I personally have never used CA Baby, but I never thought their ingredients were that clean to begin with.

  26. Sandra on January 22nd, 2012 10:21 pm

    Thank you for updating your post and hearing out all the parents who have come here to explain. Some of the people who weren’t aware of the entire story have been unkind to these parents on the CB facebook wall and that is unfortunate, especially when I read that many of them were actually willing to continue to support the company if they just came clean and fixed the problem. Instead, some of the remarks left by the CB staff were really rude. I’ve honestly never seen a thing like it before, despite having spent most of my life in customer service and relations types positions.

    So, just wanted to thank you for updating and allowing these great folks to leave comments to explain why they were so upset and posting there. Your blog will show up in google searches for this and hopefully more people will be able to know all the facts about how things happened, not just the information CB chose not to delete from their wall. Truth is important!

    I’ve also created a facebook page to create a generalized place where people can come to leave their stories about adverse reactions to products… any personal care product, not just CB. Hopefully, if ever people find themselves with their voices taken away like what happened here, they will remember that they can still vent their experience there and share with others without fear of deletion. I will also be adding quick-links to appropriate agencies for reporting adverse reactions so that these can be followed up on. It is through reporting these reactions, that some of these chemicals will receive the appropriate attention and perhaps… regulation, so reporting reactions is always a worthwhile thing to do; I hope to make doing so easier for people. Please feel free to share the link because CB is not the only company who has ever, or will ever, make a mistake that harms people.

    Adverse Product Reactions

    Thanks again!

  27. Essi on January 23rd, 2012 2:02 am

    Sad thing to hear. People here wonder how could they have been so naive thinking that customers won’t notice the changes. I think they had calculated very precisely how much difference the cheaper ingredients make in profit compared to the few lost customers. Most people with lots of extra money shopping at whole foods will never know this…

  28. SafeMama Kathy on January 23rd, 2012 8:11 am

    Thanks Erin, I agree. But it seems that the bigger problem is the deception that was felt by parents who were not aware of a reformulation because of the lack of communication from the company. On top of that, people were experiencing problems with the new formulas and the company did not acknowledge any differences in the new formulas. Their handling of the situation is more problematic than people showing concern over the actual ingredients list.

    To make matters worse, CA Baby is not inexpensive. A jar of cream is upwards of $20 for a few ounces. So people are already shelling out for a better product. If their goal is to cheapen their expenses that’s one thing. But I highly doubt that any reduction in the products shelf pricing will be seen. So the inexpensive argument is losing it’s relevance in this particular case. If we were talking about Method products it would be a different story.

  29. Sandra on January 23rd, 2012 4:29 pm

    Hi SafeMama Kathy;

    Just want to say that I’d addressed my first post here to ‘Joyce’ because someone using the name of Joyce Ferry had left multiple comments to different posts, containing a ‘sum up’ of the events… and then left a link to safemama.com at the end. She hadn’t stated that it was her words or yours, or whether she was in fact, ‘SafeMama’. I had (probably like others) assumed she was and so pasted the reply I’d left to her there… here.

    Sorry for the confusion. I’m still not sure if she is connected to this site or not. I’d left that question on the California Baby Complaints wall to you last night, but you may not see it since there are now newer posts and it may be off the wall already.

    Just thought I should explain, and thank you again for the blog post here and for your kind words on the CBC wall. I’ve suggested the folks from Skin Deep come here to see what’s gone on, rather than try sort through the (now) biased info on the CB wall.

    Hope your day is fabulous!

    Sandra

  30. SafeMama Kathy on January 23rd, 2012 4:42 pm

    Thanks Sandra! I probably didn’t see your comment unless it was linked to me in some way from the wall over there. There is no JOyce here but I think she was trying to share my article with the group earlier. It got confusing! Thanks for reaching out to me. :)

  31. Sandra on January 23rd, 2012 7:33 pm

    Hi again Kathy;

    I did eventually figure that out, and I am glad to see that she isn’t connected to here because some of us felt she was incredibly rude to some of the moms there and briefly while I wasn’t sure if she was from here or not, I was finding it really hard to believe that anyone would be so rude and try promote their own site at the same time. Very relieved to see no connection. ;-) Now that CB has deleted everything connected to this issue (including their own comments or clarifications or admission that they weren’t forthcoming with information), it’s more important that people will be able to read your summary, so really… I think it was very generous of you to support all the parents this way.

    And lol… I so was going to just type ‘cheers’ but had to stop myself since that still might be a sore spot for readers from there. ;-) <– genuine!

    Sandra

  32. cyndi mobley on January 23rd, 2012 10:52 pm

    FYI…. Seventh Generation uses sodium benzoate in their baby wipes. When I queried them on it this was the reply:

    You ask a great question. The concern with Sodium Benzoate is when it is in the presence of ascorbic acid, which we don’t use in any of our products. This concern came to light in sodas and soft drinks because they use both ingredients. We are using sodium benzoate as a preservative for our baby wipes and is the most responsible, natural option that we can find.

    Sodium benzoate naturally occurs in several fruits like apples, plums and cranberries. A few sweet spices contain small amounts of sodium benzoate, including cloves and cinnamon.

    We appreciate you sharing your concerns with us, hopefully this can help you feel more comfortable using this product. Please feel free to contact me if I can do anything else to help.

  33. Joyce on January 23rd, 2012 11:23 pm

    Thanks for this. I’m not against reformulating, and I understand why companies do it, but I really hate when companies lie and cover-up. I agree that CA Baby did not handle this situation well, and unfortunately, the damage is done and they’ve already lost too many loyal customers. Luckily there are plenty of other safe alternatives out there!

  34. Doug on January 24th, 2012 12:21 am

    Good to know! We don’t normally use California Baby (aside from their insect repellent), but if they’ve introduce a benzene salt then they’re off my shopping list. Sodium benzoate damages both my skin (applied topically or when ingested) and my digestive tract (when ingested). Yellow #5 causes a similar reaction.

    The fact that California Baby is waving off the comments (as was reported) is a good sign that they’re not interested in cusomer retention. Yet another reason to stay away.

  35. Lisa on January 24th, 2012 8:38 am

    I have loved CB calendula cream for years, and it has worked so well on my family’s eczema. This is very disappointing, but I know that if I go to my local independently owned health food store (not Target, Whole Foods or CVS) I can find at least one calendula cream made by a smaller company, so that is what I will start using.

    CB is not some tiny company, it is huge, and its behavior suggests it is more concerned with maximizing profits than with providing the best quality product that its customers want.

  36. Terri on January 24th, 2012 9:04 am

    I use products with sodium benzoate in them (Little Twig), but I do that because they are a bit less expensive than California Baby. So when I could get a deal on some California Baby products, I would grab them because they didn’t contain that ingredient and it set their products apart from the others. Now, they are the same as the others. I am really concerned about the addition of canola oil to the Calendula and other lotions. That oil comes from a genetically engineered plant, there is no such thing as a “canola”. It is the cheapest oil and it is not a good one. Why not add jajoba or coconut oil? That would seem more in line with what the company philosophy used to be. :( Cheers!

  37. kaitlyn on January 24th, 2012 11:34 am

    safemama- just wanted to address the issue of how many and which products have had sodium benzoate added to them. In your update, you mention ‘only a handful’. When I went to the CB website this morning and checked: ALL shampoos/washes and bubbles list sodium benzoate as the last ingredient. This includes: the calming, supersensitiv, calendula, overtired and cranky, and tea tree & lavender shampoos and body washes. The sodium benzoate was also added to all bubbles products which include ingredients as well. There are many different bubble products.

    Your update is being linked ALL OVER the blogosphere :). I just want to make sure the information is as updated as possible, and from what I can tell more than a handful of products have been affected.

    thanks so much for all you do to help us mamas!!

  38. kaitlyn on January 24th, 2012 11:42 am

    wow-apparently some of the handwashes as well have the sodium benzoate added. they are not updated on the CB website, but on drugstore.com check out the ingredient list for this handwash. Other moms are posting that the sodium benzoate is in other handwashes.

    http://www.drugstore.com/california-baby-calendula-natures-first-aid-moisturizing-handwash/qxp239526?catid=144420&fromsrch=california+baby+handwash

    again, seems many, many products have had this added.
    thanks again.

  39. Terri on January 24th, 2012 11:52 am

    It appears that ALL of the shampoo/body washes have sodium benzoate as well as ALL of the bubble baths. Some mysteriously have the ingredients list missing from the website, but the ones that are there have sodium benzoate.

    Also, the diaper wash and the handwashes also have sodium benzoate. These ingredients are also missing from the website, but they are listed on drugstore.com.

  40. SafeMama Kathy on January 24th, 2012 11:57 am

    Thanks Kaitlyn and Terri… I updated the article to reflect this info. Last time I checked the ingredients lists did not have it listed so it seemed as though only a few products had it. They must be busy updating the ingredients lists on their website. I do notice that not all products have an ingredients list (like on some of the bubble products). Let me know if you notice any changes and I’ll update the article accordingly.

    Thank you to all of you who have commented and helped me sort out the facts. :)

  41. Eternal Maternal on January 24th, 2012 2:17 pm

    As a maker of natural products, especially ones that are used on pregnant moms and babies, I find this whole scenario sad. It’s frustrating to see this kind of thing happen in our industry because it creates a veil of suspicion around all of us that create truly natural products. It seems the dollar is more important than the consumer.

    Also, plenty of “natural” companies like the one quoted above in response to their use of sodium benzoate will tell you that it “naturally occurs in several fruits…” That is NOT entirely true. I find it really irritating when I read stuff like that. It assumes that you, the consumer, will just accept their use of it and not ask questions. My personal take as a business owner and manufacturer are on our blog: http://em-mindfulmatters.blogspot.com/2012/01/reformulation-sodium-benzoate-and-you.html

  42. Dianna on January 24th, 2012 4:13 pm

    Thank you for posting about this reformulation drama. I just found about about it today. My calendula cream jar (old formula) is almost empty and I will not buy anymore CB products. I posted your link on CB Facebook’s wall to inform other customers who are not aware of the problem yet. And just in case CB deletes my post, I did a partial screen capture of the CB Facebook’s wall with my comment on the wall for proof.

  43. SafeMama Kathy on January 24th, 2012 4:26 pm

    Thanks Dianna! I doubt they will leave that up for any length of time! They seem to be deleting any mention of anything related to it and hoping it will go away. I don’t think the moms they angered are going to let this one go.

  44. ronnie on January 29th, 2012 6:46 pm

    I have never used California Baby before but had heard good things. My daughter gets really chapped cheeks in the winter and I wanted to try something more natural than Eucerin, so I purchased one of their lotions. As soon as I put it on she screamed about how much it burned her skin. I couldn’t understand how this would happen, since I looked up their products in the past, but it makes more sense now.