≡ Menu

Cosmetic Label Dissecting – Burts Bees Baby Shampoo

Here’s another in our continuing series on dissecting the cosmetic label. By reviewing these labels it is our hope that you will develop the skills yourself. This is a key activity that all good cosmetic formulators should be able to do.

Today’s label is a product from Burt’s Bees called Baby Bee Tear Free Shampoo. Previously, someone had asked us to do a ‘natural’ product.

Ingredient list

First thing is the ingredient list as listed on Drugstore.com.

Water, Decyl, Lauryl Glucosides (Natural Coconut Oil, Corn, Starch, Sugar Soap Blend), Coco Betaine (Coconut Oil Moisturizer), Soy Protein, Coco Glucoside, Glyceryl Oleate (Natural Sunflower, Coconut Oil Soap Blend), Surcrose Laurate (Sugar Ester), Vegetable Glycerin, Betaine (Sugar Beet), Glucose Sugar, Fragrance, Orange Oil, Anise Oil, Lemon (Citrus Medica Limonium) Oil, Vanilla (Vanilla Planifolia) Extract, Clove Oil, Xanthan Gum (Natural Thickener), Glucose Oxidase, Lactoperoxidase

It’s notable that while this source mostly gets things right they certainly make mistakes. In this label the second ingredient is wrong. There is no such compound as Decyl. More likely the compound is supposed to be ‘Decyl Glucosides’ as this is the only thing that makes sense.

It’s also notable that this list doesn’t follow proper INCI labeling because they include marketing words in the ingredient list. (Coconut oil moisturizer) and (natural coconut oil, corn…) are not proper INCI names.

The corrected label should look more like this…

Water, Decyl Glucoside, Lauryl Glucoside, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Soy Protein, Coco Glucoside, Glyceryl Oleate, Surcrose Laurate, Glycerin, Betaine, Glucose, Fragrance, Orange Oil, Anise Oil, Lemon (Citrus Medica Limonium) Oil, Vanilla (Vanilla Planifolia) Extract, Clove Oil, Xanthan Gum, Glucose Oxidase, Lactoperoxidase

The most likely 1% line is after the Cocamidopropyl Betaine and before the Soy Protein.

Since Burts Bees is owned by Clorox, it is a bit surprising to me that they have this many errors in their ingredient lists. Perhaps the errors are Drugstore.com ones.

Ingredient breakdown

Detergent system
These are the ingredients that are responsible for making the product clean hair.

Water
Decyl Glucoside – Primary detergent
Lauryl Glucoside – Primary detergent
Cocamidopropyl Betaine – Foam boosting, thickening
Betaine – Foam boosting

Thickener
Xanthan Gum

Conditioning
These ingredients are put in to offset the dryness of the detergent system.

Soy Protein
Coco Glucoside – Emollient
Glyceryl Oleate – Emollient
Sucrose Laurate – Emollient
Glycerin – Humectant
Glucose – Humectant

Preservative system
There isn’t an obvious preservative system but they use a number of extracts and oils that could provide enough microbial protection in a detergent system. These ingredients are likely adding to the preservative effect (in addition to providing odor and good label copy).

Orange Oil
Anise Oil
Lemon (Citrus Medica Limonium) Oil
Vanilla (Vanilla Planifolia) Extract
Clove Oil
Glucose Oxidase – Product stabilizer
Lactoperoxidase – Product stabilizer

No doubt this is a fine enough product and it avoids parabens, sulfates, and other ingredients that buyers of ‘natural’ personal care products would want to avoid.

With all the oils in there it will be a low foaming product and I would worry that exposure to too many different oils could increase the number of allergic reactions to the product. However, I’m certain Burts Bees has thoroughly tested the product so this shouldn’t be a huge problem.

{ 27 comments… add one }

  • Liz 02/07/2014, 9:23 am

    After having my baby I have done my best to become aware of which ingredients or chemicals to stay away from. I tried burt’s bee because it seemed all-natural. Unfortunately, my son had a bad reaction to this product, his skin was red (assuming from irritation) and had small bumps which made his skin feel rough. I am yet to figure out which ingredient might ‘ ve cause the reaction.

  • Becky 07/07/2013, 3:33 am

    I’m having a REALLY hard time finding these ingredients. I thought I would try copying this one. Are there any tips for finding distributors? It would be nice if they were all in one place, too! Is there a way I can alter this with (relatively speaking) more common ingredients? How does everyone else find their ingredients?

    • Perry Romanowski 07/07/2013, 5:30 pm

      Look at a Buyer’s Guide. Try Happi.com

  • ?noi ap suat 07/04/2013, 8:17 pm

    2-3 tbsp Cooking oil. Another advantage of stainless steel
    pressure cookers is that they can absorb heat much better and
    lets you cook your food faster. If health won?t make you take a bit of time for yourself, maybe vanity will.

  • Hamish Couch 10/09/2012, 7:12 pm

    the biovert system has been around a while and i don’t believe it is classified as a preservative. Like Dr Straetmans pres. they are classed as anit microbial agents and therefore get away with legislation, particularly under the annexe of international preservatives. We had completed trials, and P.E testing and passed. It is heat intolerant and pH dependant so there are some considerations with handling. We were trialing it just under 1%. It has an interesting function with kill reduction on bacteria but there are definately challenges when doing larger batches

  • Louise 08/08/2012, 8:46 am

    Hello, I’ve read that Glucose is suspected of causing skin or sense organ toxicity, so perhaps not a good ingredient to have in the shampoo?

    • Perry 08/09/2012, 1:26 pm

      There is no evidence that topical glucose will have any negative effects on skin.

      • Raunak 05/14/2013, 6:19 am

        thats true.

  • Colin 02/28/2012, 11:41 am

    Just to defend the Biovert system, it works pretty well if handled correctly and can work just as long as chemical preservatives. If Burts Bees products are going off, which I haven’t seen myself, the problem is likely to be in their production department rather than in the selection of the preservative.

    The ingredient that raised my eyebrows was the sodium benzoate. It is a decent enough preservative but it does tend to attract a lot of skin sensitisation reactions, so not the one I’d have selected for a baby shampoo.

    • Perry 02/29/2012, 4:42 pm

      Thanks for the info Colin! It’s good to hear from a cosmetic chemist ho has actually worked with it.

  • Carol Quezada, Ph.D. 02/09/2012, 1:57 pm

    This is from Walgreens.com
    Looks like th proper format. Probably drugstore.com just got it worng.

    Ingredients
    Aqua (Water) , Decyl Glucoside , Carthamus Tinctorius Oleosomes (Safflower) , Glycerin , Sodium Cocoyl Hydrolyzed Soy Protein , Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice , Coco-Glucoside , Glyceryl Oleate , Avena Sativa Kernel Flour (Oat) , Aniba Rosaeodora Wood Oil (Rosewood) , Coriandrum Sativum Fruit Extract (Coriander) , Cedrus Atlantica Bark Oil , Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis Oil (Sweet Almond) , Xanthan Gum , Citric Acid , Glucose , Sodium Chloride , Sodium Benzoate , Glucose Oxidase , Lactoperoxidase , Linalool

    • David 02/09/2012, 2:28 pm

      Hi Carol!
      This one also makes no sense. It contains “linalool” which usually comes from a fragrance allergen without listing any fragrance! Secondly, Sodium Benzoate seems to be the preservative here, why then add the enzymes? All in all I think this is a good example of that we (cosmetic chemists) shouldn’t take the ingredient list too seriously and use common sense as well!

      • Perry 02/09/2012, 2:47 pm

        Good points. Although I think Linalool could be coming from one of the essential oils.

      • Perry 02/09/2012, 2:54 pm

        It’s also likely that they weren’t getting enough protection from the enzymes so they had to add the Sodium Benzoate for extra preservation.

        • David 02/09/2012, 3:38 pm

          Thank you Perry, didn’t think of that an allergen could have its origin from an essential oil. Regarding the sodium benzoate I agree, but on the other hand the sodium benzoate would probably have done the job without the enzymes (if the pH is right) . That leaves the enzymes as…what you call “puffery”.

        • Piernik 02/10/2012, 2:19 pm

          Can sodium benzoate come from some liquid ingredients, in this case e.g. Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice? I always wonder if one should listed preservatives which are part of some liquid ingredients on the label of a final product?

          • Perry 02/10/2012, 2:33 pm

            If you know an ingredient is in the formula (e.g. it comes from a raw material) then you should list it in the final product.

    • Perry 02/09/2012, 2:46 pm

      Yeah, it is probably an old label that Drugstore.com had. I didn’t think Clorox would let Burts Bees continue to mislabel their products.

  • David 02/09/2012, 2:52 am

    I found this on their homepage, it looks like the same product to me, but with slightly different ingredients. This one also has a fragrance.

    http://global.burtsbees.com/product-line/baby-bee/baby-bee-shampoo-wash.html

    Ingredients: aqua (water, eau), decyl glucoside, coco-betaine, lauryl glucoside, sucrose laurate, glycerin, betaine, coco-glucoside, sodium cocoyl hydrolyzed soy protein, parfum (fragrance), glyceryl oleate, sodium chloride, xanthan gum, glucose, citric acid, glucose oxidase, lactoperoxidase, benzyl benzoate, geraniol, linalool.

    ..and shouldn’t “coco glucoside” belong to the surfactants?

    • Piernik 02/12/2012, 4:38 am

      I’m also thinking about coco glucosida being a surfactant (detergent). Isn’t that something like decyl and lauryl glucoside, but made of all fatty alcohol derived form coconut oil? And according to this pdf file from Cognis: http://www.dewolfchem.com/pdf/Cognis_Eco-Product%20Summary.pdf coco glucoside is both secondary surfactant and refatting agent.
      Also sodium cocoyl hydrolyzed soy protein could be a surfactant here, this kind of so called foaming polypeptides is produced by e.g. Sinerga. I’ve found it in Aubrey Organics shampoos where is probably a second surfactant.

      Isn’t betaine a humectant and hair conditioner rather than a foam booster?
      Shouldn’t glucose be listed as a preservative since it’s part of Biovert system?

      • Perry 02/12/2012, 6:50 am

        As this example shows, dissecting an ingredient label is not an exact science. Sure coco glucoside can be considered a surfactant. It is. But it’s effect will be overwhelmed by the other surfactants in there. That’s why it is most likely in the formula for its emollient effect. And while glucose is in the Biovert system at the concentrations used in this formula, it is not going to have any preservative effect.

        • Piernik 02/12/2012, 9:03 am

          Thanks, this explanation is very helpful.

          As for Biovert – do glucose oxidase and lactoperoxidase act as a pro-oxidant,I’m asking because they sound kind of like one? And if so, can they be somehow affected by antioxidants in a formula?

          • Perry 02/12/2012, 7:07 pm

            Glucose Oxidase and Lactoperoxidase are enzymes which have specific effects on metabolites in the microbes cells (theoretically). So they can’t really be thought of as generally pro-oxidants.

  • Eliza 02/08/2012, 2:51 am

    Thanks Perry for doing a natural product too!

    I totally agree about the wacky INCI. The essential oils like Orange, Anise seed and Clove should also be followed by their botanical names like Citrus sinensis, Pimpinella anisum and Eugenia caryophyllata.
    Plus in the EU the perfume allergens should also be mentioned.

    And Mark is totally right about Biovert, although I haven’t tried that one yet, it does sound promising!
    I did read on make-up alley that many burt’s bees products tend to go bad pretty quickly, maybe because of the preservation?

    • Perry 02/08/2012, 7:33 am

      “I did read on make-up alley that many burt’s bees products tend to go bad pretty quickly, maybe because of the preservation?”

      Based on the preservation system of this shampoo, I’m not surprised.

  • Mark Fuller 02/07/2012, 2:24 pm

    Argueably it does contain a Preservative system with the Glucose Oxidase, Lactoperidoxase. This is Biovert by Arch Chemicals. It was one of the earliest “Natural” preservative systems and has been endorsed by NPA.

    • Perry 02/07/2012, 2:55 pm

      Good point Mark. Thanks!

Leave a Comment