Written by: Patrick Harewood, Director of Formulations @blueland
March 16, 2021
Publications, blogs, podcasts, scientific studies, brands, the list goes on. They all talk about ingredients when it comes to skincare, beauty, home, and lifestyle products. With varying opinions on how certain ingredients affect people and the planet, it can be confusing to understand the impact of specific ingredients in products. If you’ve ever looked at an ingredients list and have been confused, it’s always a great idea to reach out to the brand itself and hear what they have to say. For more context on our products, we’re giving an honest breakdown of some common misconceptions or confusion surrounding certain ingredients used in our specific products here. Additionally, you can find our full list of ingredients for every product on this page under the links titled “See Ingredients”.
What Is SLS?
SLS or sodium lauryl sulfate is an ingredient that can have a variety of uses, but in cleaning products, it’s often used to break up dirt and grime away from the material it’s intended to clean as it’s a surfactant. By definition, a surfactant is a substance that reduces the surface tension between two things (for example stains and water), making it a very important ingredient for cleaning products. We use SLS that is derived from renewable carbon plant-derived materials.
Does Blueland Use SLS?
Our Bathroom cleaner, Glass + Mirror cleaner, Powder Dish Soap and Dishwasher Tablets do contain SLS as an ingredient. Our Foaming Hand Soap, Multi-Surface cleaner, and Laundry Tablets do not but may have trace amounts. We use SLS in our Dish products and Cleaning Sprays because it is an effective surfactant that helps break up dirt and grime.
Why Do We Use Palm Oil?
We prefer to use coconut derived ingredients, but there are unfortunately many times when an efficacious, cost effective, and compatible formulation solution only exists from a non-coconut derived source. In these cases, we selectively use other naturally derived plant oils for our surfactant ingredients, including palm oils.
How Do We Source Palm Oil For Our Products?
We accept ingredients derived from palm oil when the suppliers are able to produce documentation or evidence that the palm oil is RSPO certified but if they cannot, we will change to suppliers who can. These ingredients do go through extreme vetting along with all of our ingredients through our partnership with Cradle to Cradle where we have Platinum level Material Health Certificates (which is their highest material health rating for people and the planet) for our Dishwasher Tablets, Cleaning Sprays, Laundry Tablets and Foaming Hand Soap. The certificate indicates that we “go beyond restricted substances to encourage healthier and safer materials in packaging and cleaning solutions optimized for human and environmental health”. You can read more about our Platinum Material Health Certificate from Cradle to Cradle for our Cleaning Sprays here and our Hand Soap here. You can also find more information on our Platinum Material Health Certificate for our Dishwasher Tablets and Laundry Tablets on Cradle to Cradle’s Instagram.
How Are Blueland Fragrances Evaluated?
While most fragrance facilities do not disclose their specific ingredients list for proprietary reasons, Cradle to Cradle evaluated our fragrances and their manufacturers, and our formulation received the Platinum Material Health Certificate. Additionally, they are safe synthetic fragrances and by going synthetic, we’re able to exclude Prop 65 banned ingredients that are sometimes found in natural fragrances. Prop 65 requires the state to maintain and update a list of chemicals known to the state to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity. You can read more about Prop 65 here.
Do Blueland Products Contain Fragrance?
Currently, our fragrance-free products include our Glass + Mirror cleaner, Powder Dish Soap, Dishwasher Tablets, and Laundry Tablets. However, our Multi-Surface cleaner, Bathroom cleaner, and Hand Soap do contain fragrance. For these products, we developed our fragrances without using harmful ingredients. The fragrance is formulated to avoid known allergens which is why our fragrances are a blend of natural and synthetic ingredients. Synthetic ingredients were used when the natural source is known to have allergens. For example, our Bathroom cleaner scent is Eucalyptus Mint. However, since actual eucalyptus contains known allergens, we used other natural ingredients to recreate a similar “eucalyptus” scent.
Does Blueland Use Essential Oils?
We’ve received requests for essential oils instead of synthetic fragrances. However, we’re currently unable to load essential oils into our dry tablets and formulations.
What Is Sodium Benzoate?
Sodium benzoate is commonly used as a preservative in processed foods and beverages, as well as personal care products, to extend the shelf life. Sodium benzoate is the combination of benzoic acid and sodium hydroxide, which helps the substance dissolve in products. Benzoic acid is found in many plants including berries, tomatoes, and apples. The Cleaning Spray and Hand Soap tablets require sodium benzoate as a preservative for both the dry tablets and the solution because water is added to them.
Is Sodium Benzoate A Carcinogen?
Certain sources may say that sodium benzoate is a carcinogenic ingredient. Other sources may say that when it’s included in the same formula as citric acid, the two can create a carcinogen. However, sodium benzoate as a standalone ingredient or the combination of the two do not create a carcinogen. The formulation has received the Platinum Material Health Certificate from Cradle to Cradle.
What Is PEG Or Polyethylene Glycol? And Do Blueland Products Contain PEG?
PEG, or polyethylene glycol, is found in our Cleaning Sprays and Hand Soap. It ensures the tablet won’t crumble before use and dissolves easily in water. We’d like to clarify that polyethylene glycol is a different substance than propylene glycol, which we do not include in our formulations.
Unfortunately, we have not found suitable alternatives that aren’t petroleum-based and we’ve had to rely on those that are. We used as little as could to make our tablets and our Cleaning Sprays and Hand Soap received the Platinum Material Health Certificates from Cradle to Cradle. That being said, PEG is considered biodegradable. You can read more about that here.
What Is The Blueland Philosophy?
As you can see, the answer isn’t always clear cut. However, we highly value honesty and integrity here at Blueland, which is why we’re very aware of areas for improvement and are actively working to do better in all areas of the brand, including our formulations.
We also believe educating consumers is important. We’re open and transparent because it’s also important for brands. While it may not be perfect, we’re also focused on balancing the efficacy of our products and their impact on the environment. With this philosophy, we believe it’s the best way to make our products a sustainable and long-term asset to benefit households and the planet.