sunscreen recall
Article by: Perry Romanowski

This was bound to happen.  A mid-sized but growing brand who positions themselves as “natural” and “safer” than conventional products doesn’t put a proper preservative in their products and they end up having a microbial contamination problem.

The push by some in our industry to remove “toxins” and “scary chemicals” has led to the creation of products that are demonstrably less safe.  And in the case of Badger Sunscreens, they are downright dangerous!

No one should buy products that do not have a preservative in them.  And no one should formulate products that aren’t properly preserved.  It’s really that simple.  You should never compromise product safety for your marketing story!

Formulating Reality

No matter how much a brand wants to believe that preservatives like Parabens and Formaldehyde donors are scary, they are not.  They can be safely used in cosmetics.  The thing that is scary is the prospect of exposing yourself to microbial contaminated products. Microbes can cause disease, blindness and for compromised immune system individuals…death.

And what are you protecting yourself from by avoiding parabens and other proven preservatives?  Nothing.

There is NO evidence that standard preservatives used in cosmetic products represents a significant risk of anything for consumers.  On the contrary, using non-preserved or improperly preserved products is a proven risk.  You should not do it!

Hopefully, the folks over at Badger stop listening to marketers and start listening to reasonable scientists who know that you need a proper preservative to make safe products.

Badger’s response

One troubling thing to me is Badger’s response to this microbial contamination.  Rather than admitting that their decision to use an inadequate preservative was wrong, they simply blame it on some contract manufacture issue.  There is no talk of re-formulating to ensure that something like this doesn’t happen again.

Hey Badger, if you’re listening, put a proper preservative in your system and you won’t have issues like this!  You are risking the lives of children and the safety of your consumers.  They trust you to do the right thing and that means…USE PRESERVATIVES!!



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  2. drcherri

    I have been using badger’s sunscreen for 2 years.. its very sad and surprising.. since working in laboratory setting, I see a lot of organic brands reformulating their product due to preservative issues. Once you open the jar, you see actual molds on the cap… I wish consumers don’t just think organic is the best.. it could be better but not always…

    Thanks for sharing this article.

  3. Sue Apito

    Well perhaps this should have been in the actual “Press Release” but if you go to the Badger website and read the FAQ — they have addressed what they will do going forward:

    Question: “How does Badger plan to prevent this from happening again?”

    Answer: “Once this problem was discovered, we commissioned a full investigation, including independent toxicology and microbiology assessments. The results of these assessments led to our decision to issue a voluntary recall. Going forward, we will be reformulating our sunscreen lotions to strengthen the preservative system and will be improving manufacturing processes to ensure we don’t have a problem like this again.”

    1. Perry Romanowski

      I hope they reformulate ALL their sunscreens. Unfortunately, in discussions with them it is clear they are ruling out the use of certain proven preservatives (parabens) in favor of unproven ones.

  4. Mark Fuller

    I would say that your argument would be insurmountable if we were having it in 2006. However, to some extent the Raw material suppliers have really stepped up their game. Granted the bloggers with no clear standard of what is Natural will never be satisfied but anyone working under NSF or NPA will have no issue with correcting this issue. That is why it is important to familiarize yourself with the standards not the scare tactics on the Internet.

    1. Tee Pace

      Both comments well said!

  5. Mark Fuller

    Wow, you are preaching to the choir on this one. I stand by my policy that if you want to use a preservative system without a proven track record, we will insist on a PET. To qualify that I would prefer that PET was mandatory but there are some cases where it is not economically feasible.
    Many of my clients want a “Natural” sunscreen but can not pay the fees for the testing themselves. In this case I try to get them a Private Label solution. It is frustrating. I have tried many of the Private label as well as Whole Foods sunscreens. There is a huge gap in that area. I had tried the Badger products but they didn’t spread well. As a whole many of the existing products are like applying a glue stick. It is puzzling since any Cosmetic Chemist should be able to fix this issue.

    1. Perry Romanowski

      It’s certainly something a cosmetic chemist could fix if they were allowed to use a full range of cosmetic raw materials. When you make a cosmetic chemist formulate without a full pallet of compounds, it’s not surprising that the resulting products are inferior.

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