Borax in Skin Care Products
Sometimes even natural ingredients can be potentially hazardous when used in foods and cosmetics. Just because a product is natural, it doesn’t follow that it is also safe. Some skin care manufacturers label their products as ‘natural’, assuming that this will make them more attractive to consumers. And this would indeed be the case, as long as the natural ingredients are also proven to be safe to use. One product which is a naturally occurring mineral but has raised concerns regarding its safety is borax.
Borax – sodium borate – is a mineral which forms during the evaporation around the edges of salt lakes, and there are also borax mines in California. Borax contains boron, which is needed for bone strengthening, and immune system and brain health, and this leads many people to consider borax is fit for human use, but the fact is, borax is banned as a food additive by the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and it figures on the European Chemical Agency’s list of ‘Substances of very high concern.’
Borax is used as an emulsifier in skin creams and lotions. It allows the oil and water content of the products to mix together, and facilitates smooth spreading over the skin. While it is not easily absorbed into the skin, it can find its way through the skin layers where there are skin lesions or broken skin. In many countries, its use in cosmetics and skin care products is severely restricted.
The fact is, borax is only safe in very small amounts. It can cause irritation to the skin and eyes, and if it’s inhaled, it can also irritate the lungs. If borax is ingested orally, it can cause digestive problems including nausea and vomiting. Canadian and European research on animals also seems to indicate that borax can be toxic towards the reproductive organs and other organs, although the chemical is not regarded as bio-accumulative. This means that, unlike other potentially harmful substances, borax does not build up in the system over time.
The worrying thing is that there appear to be large gaps in the data available on the safety of borax. It is not believed to be carcinogenic, although further research is necessary. Borax is used in a number of household cleaning products, weed killers, fungicides and insecticides. It’s also used in some flea treatments for pets, but many veterinarians are advising against its use, as it is making animals sick. Do you really want this ingredient in your skin care products?
Just because an ingredient is natural, it doesn’t guarantee that it is safe to use, particularly in the long term, and when you find a skin care product that suits your skin and achieves the results you want, it’s likely that you will use it for a long time. All the ingredients in Naturally Mediterranean’s skin care range are certified as natural and safe to use. We don’t include anything that has a question mark over its safety, and there is no borax in any of our products.