Investigating Personal Care Products: Burt’s Bees

Is there anyone into natural skin care who doesn’t know about Burt’s Bees? I became aware of this brand years ago, when the only place I could find them was an herb farm in the middle of nowhere—they’ve made mighty leaps in both distribution and recognition since. They’ve also greatly extended their product roster. In a world with an overabundance of brands that promise “natural” soaps, lotions and potions, these folks don’t just talk the talk.

They list ingredients, as well as chemicals not contained in their products, on their labels.  You’re not getting parabens, sulfates, phthalates or petrochemicals in your skin care. They also don’t test on animals; isn’t it time that all other manufacturers followed suit in both matters? 

The Milk & Shea Butter Body Bar is an exceptionally mild soap with a very light fragrance that doesn't make skin dry.

The Milk & Shea Butter Body Bar is an exceptionally mild soap with a very light fragrance that doesn’t make skin dry.

Burt’s Bees has far too many products for me to have tried even the majority of them, but I can tell you what I’ve used, at least. I’m very fond of the Milk & Shea Butter Body Bar. This is an exceptionally mild soap with a very light fragrance; it doesn’t dry my skin out even if I use it in winter. I also really like the Hair Repair Shea & Grapefruit Deep Conditioner. I’m sure the state of my hair would cause anyone knowledgeable in such a subject to cluck their tongue in dismay, but this 2 minute treatment causes my hair to feel softer, and it detangles handily. I’ve tried a couple of the shampoos and conditioners, too, which have been pleasant and clean/condition my hair nicely. The fragrance of the Super Shiny Grapefruit & Sugar Beet variety is particularly alluring.

Burt's Bees Super Shiny Grapefruit & Sugar Beet Shampoo & Super Shiny Grapefruit & Sugar Beet Conditioner.

Burt’s Bees Super Shiny Grapefruit & Sugar Beet Shampoo & Super Shiny Grapefruit & Sugar Beet Conditioner.

Burt’s Bees line of NPA-certified natural toothpastes, launched just last year, are SLS-free and don’t contain any artificial colors, flavors, preservatives or sweeteners. Instead cranberry extract is used to help fight plaque. They toothpastes are the first Burt’s Bees products to be sold “out of the hive,” as the company calls it, which means they can be found alongside all the other toothpaste brands and not in the natural products aisle (where Burt’s Bees products usually are).

Burt's Bees natural toothpaste uses cranberry extract to fight plaque.

Burt’s Bees natural toothpaste uses cranberry extract to fight plaque.

Our Editor-in-Chief uses the lip shimmers (raisin is her favorite shade), the cuticle cream and the natural insect repellent and swears by them all. I don’t have room here to tell you about the line of baby products (called Baby Bee), the lip balms, the solid perfumes, the gifts, the men’s line, the hand sanitizer that studiously avoids the use of triclosan…um—did I mention that they have a lot of personal care items? As impressed as I am with the Burt’s Bees commitment to using non-harmful ingredients, that wouldn’t be worth much if their products weren’t highly acceptable and effective. But I have found them to be both, which is why I’m a repeat customer.

Burt's Bees Lip Shimmers smell deliciously minty and come in many different shades.

Burt’s Bees Lip Shimmers smell deliciously minty and come in many different shades.

These products are available in many locations. If you can’t find them in a local retailer, however, you can always order them online.

Burt's Bees Herbal Insect Repellent keeps the bugs away without poisoning you with nasty chemicals like DEET (a common ingredient in other repellents). The Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream keeps your hands and toes looking pretty all year long.

Burt’s Bees Herbal Insect Repellent keeps the bugs away without poisoning you with nasty chemicals like DEET (a common ingredient in other repellents). The Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream keeps your hands and toes looking pretty all year long.

Ingredients in these products rating above a 4 in EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database:

Milk & Shea Butter Body Bar: fragrance (8)*
Very Volumizing Pomegranate & Soy Shampoo: none
Very Volumizing Pomegranate & Soy Conditioner: cetrimonium bromide (4 to 5)
Hair Repair Shea & Grapefruit Deep Conditioner: cetrimonium bromide (4 to 5)
Super Shiny Grapefruit & Sugar Beet Conditioner: cetrimonium bromide (4 to 5)
Burt’s Bees Natural Toothpaste Fluoride Multicare Toothpaste – Peppermint Flavor: sodium momofluorophosphate (6)
Burt’s Bees Lip Shimmer: none

*The word “fragrance” or “parfum” on the product label represents an undisclosed mixture of various scent chemicals and ingredients used as fragrance dispersants such as diethyl phthalate. Fragrance mixes have been associated with allergies, dermatitis, respiratory distress and potential effects on the reproductive system. Read more here.

About author
Stephanie Zonis was born with a spoon in her mouth — a tasting spoon, that is. She began cooking (especially baking) at a very early age, and for a short time even ran a highly illegal baking business from her long-suffering parents’ house when she was in high school. After acquiring a Master’s Degree in Foods, she eventually discovered the Internet in 1997. She’s been writing about food and developing recipes, especially where chocolate is involved, ever since. During those few moments when she’s not cooking or writing or thinking about food, Stephanie enjoys reading, walking, political discussions, and volunteering at a local no-kill cat sanctuary. She has been a member of a medieval re-creation group for longer than she’ll admit and loves absurdist humor.
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