bath and body works
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Is Bath & Body Works a Clean & Sustainable Brand?

Staff Guide

Apr 29, 2021

Bath & Body Works is an extremely popular brand that offers a large line of products, from body care, hand soaps and sanitizers, fragrance, and possibly their most popular product, scented candles.

At the time of writing, the brand operates over 1,900 stores and has over 6.4 million Instagram followers, which paints a picture of how popular the brand is. You'll find a Bath & Body Works store in virtually every shopping mall in North America.

But how do they rate in terms of clean ingredients, sustainable packaging, and animal rights? We investigated the brand and rated them on these three pillars of what we believe makes for a conscious brand.

Ingredients (Rating: Bad)

Bath & Body Works is very opaque when it comes to ingredients. They don't list ingredients for any product listed for purchase on the website, so searching online for ingredient lists is necessary.

In our research, we found that the brand leaves much to be desired in the ingredients department. Essentially all of their products contain at least one ingredient we recommend avoiding.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but some examples of ingredients of concern found in Bath & Body Works products include:

Fragrance

Bath & Body Works liberally uses chemical fragrance in almost all of their products. Read our full article on why we don't recommend products with chemical fragrance. You'll find artificial fragrance in their candles, as well.

Methylisothiazolinone

This preservative is found in many Bath & Body Works products. It's been linked to inhalation toxicity, allergies and possible neurotoxicity.

Artificial colors

Many Bath & Body Works products are dyed with artificial colors which are made from petroleum. You'll find this on the label as ingredients like Yellow #5, Red #40, and Blue #1.

SLS/SLES

SLES has been linked to cancer, and SLS irritates the skin. You'll find it in several Bath & Body Works washes and bath products.

Parabens

These chemical preservatives are commonly used in personal care products. They're possible endocrine disruptors and could be replaced with less harsh preservatives widely used in other products on the market. You'll find parabens in many products in the brand's lineup.

Sustainability (Rating: Bad)

Most Bath & Body Works products are sold in single-use plastic containers, and the brand has no recycling, refill or return programs. Examples include bath bombs wrapped in single-use plastic shrink wrap—a more sustainable alternative would be selling them package-free like Lush.

The only example we could find of a reusable product are their line of candles. They come in glass containers that can be reused or recycled if properly cleaned.

For this reason, the brand gets a failing grade in terms of sustainability.

Animal Rights (Rating: Bad)

Cruelty-Free

Bath & Body Works is not a cruelty-free brand. The brand is sold in China, where laws dictate that animal testing on finished products is a possibility. For this reason, the brand is not considered cruelty-free.

Vegan

Bath & Body works is not a vegan brand and their lack of transparency in ingredients makes it very difficult to determine which products are vegan. The brand doesn't prioritize vegan ingredients, and they get a failing grade here.

Brand Ratings

Our rating scale ranges from "Best" (for having the best practices) to "Bad" (for having unacceptable practices). We rated Bath & Body Works as follows.

IngredientsBad - Virtually every product the brand offers contains at least one ingredient we recommend avoiding.
SustainabilityBad - Plastic packaging is used for all products, with no chance of recycling.
Animal RightsBad - The brand is neither cruelty-free nor vegan. Their products being available in China opens them up to the possibility of post-market animal testing.

Overall Rating: Bad

Bath & Body Works falls short in all three pillars of what we consider a conscious brand. Their products are full of ingredients of concern, they used disposable plastic packaging in nearly all of their products, and they're not cruelty-free or vegan.

Being such a popular brand, we hope that they will improve their practices in the future and become a more conscious company.

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