Ever since I was a little girl, one of my favorite gifts was lotion from Bath & Body Works. It always smelled so pretty – and made me feel so pretty! (Hey, I was a kid, after all).
Alas, the kid in me grew up, and two science degrees (and one beauty blog) later, I revealed in a November 2007 post that Bath & Body Works lotion really was not worth more than some of its drugstore-based competitors, particularly with effective ingredient-rich contenders like niacinamide-rich Olay Quench Body Lotion ($19.56, Amazon.com) and the deeply penetrating Vaseline Sheer Infusion ($11.90, Amazon.com).
Now, in Spring/Summer 2010, Bath & Body Works has reformulated its body lotions in 25 scents – a major revamp! Unfortunately for us, even though the new packaging is refreshing, the formula is barely improved. Take a look at a comparison of ingredients below (new ingredients in bold and underlined):
Ingredients in ORIGINAL Bath and Body Works Signature Collection Pleasures Lotion: Moonlight Path scent
Water, Glycerin, Petrolatum, Cetyl Alcohol, Ceteryl Alcohol, Dimethicone, Fragrance (Parfum), Ceteareth-20, Aloe Barabdensis Leaf Juice, Lavandula Angusifolia (Lavender) Extract, Macademia Ternifolia Seed Oil, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E Acetate), Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Extract, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Extract, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract, Propylene Glycol, Carbomer, Sodium Hydroxide, Diasodlidinyl Urea, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, BEnzyl Alcohol, Tetrasodium EDTA, Disodium EDTA, Red 33, Blue 1
Ingredients in NEW Bath and Body Works Signature Collection Pleasures Lotion: Moonlight Path scent
Water, Glycerin, Petrolatum, Cetyl Alcohol, Ceteryl Alcohol, Dimethicone, Fragrance (Parfum), Ceteareth-20, Butyrspermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Simmondsia Chinesis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Lavandula Angusifolia (Lavender) Extract, Macademia Ternifolia Seed Oil, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E Acetate), Isododecane, Carbomer, Neopentyl Glycol Diheptanoate, Tetrasodium EDTA, Sodium hydroxide, Disodium EDTA, BHT, Diazolidinyl Urea, Methylparaben, Benzyl Alcohol, Propylparaben, Citral, Limonene, Linalool, Red 33, Blue 1
In other words, the “three new supremely hydrating ingredients” are shea butter, jojoba seed oil, and vitamin E — and, as you may have noticed, vitamin E is not even new to the formulation (!). The overall effect of adding shea butter and jojoba seed oil seems to be increased hydration and better absorption. For instance, a 2008 study in the British Journal of Dermatology revealed that shea butter was one of six lipid-based substances able to hydrate well enough to reduce SLS-induced irritation in the skin (for the record, the others were hydrocortisone, petrolatum, fish oil, borage oil, sunflower seed oil, canola oil, and fractions of unsaponifiable lipids from canola oil and shea butter). Further, although jojoba oil is less well-studied in the modern scientific/dermatological community, the Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine affirms that Native Americans have used jojoba oil for hundreds of years, as it “forms a lipid layer on the skin, acting as a moisturizer […] penetrating and being absorbed by the outer layer of skin.”
Personal Use: Good Enough to Keep Using, but Not Great
The new Bath & Body Works lotion admittedly absorbs more quickly than the former, hydrates well, and still smells tremendous for hours. [In case my boyfriend or friends are reading this, I like Cucumber Melon and Mango Mandarin! *cough* ] I also appreciate the fact that the company has removed the vitamin C from the body lotion: although vitamin C is a tremendous antioxidant for the skin, when it is packaged in the kind of clear, often air-exposed container Bath & Body Works uses, the vitamin C can oxidize, losing its potency over time. (By the way, this means if you have a vitamin C-based lotion that has turned yellow or orange, please toss it; the vitamin C has lost much of its effectiveness already).
Advice to Bath & Body Works: Please Reformulate Again!
While I certainly enjoy the hydration and smell of Bath & Body Works new lotion, I must say, the company needs to keep up with the times a little bit more. As consumers are becoming increasingly more educated, much of the skin care industry is moving rapidly to keep up, introducing revolutionary anti-aging ingredients (niacinamide, retinoids, peptides, etc.), spectacular delivery systems (lysosomes, nanoparticles, etc.), and completely paraben/BHT-free products at an awe-inspiring rate. I would encourage the Limited, Inc. to update its Bath & Body Works lotions as regularly as its clothing lines at Express – introduce limited-edition versions of both the best and hottest in the skin care industry, which includes lotions with anti-aging sunscreen, high antioxidant levels, and niacinamide/nicotinic acid, and all-natural products. A new scent and some shea butter/jojoba isn’t enough to make women rush the doors anymore – but something like jaw-dropping levels of vitamin C, kojic acid, azelaic acid, and possibly hydroquinone in a tightly packaged, air-pump microdelivery system without parabens that will drastically brighten the skin in four weeks? Now that’s worth making a special trip to the mall! And that’s only one example!
So get on it, the Limited Co.! As for the rest of us, I feel this lotion is good enough to use, but it’s still not as effective at hydrating or anti-aging as niacinamide-rich Olay Quench Body Lotion ($19.56, Amazon.com) and the deeply penetrating Vaseline Sheer Infusion ($11.90, Amazon.com).
Product Rating: 7/10
High concentration of proven effective ingredients: 2/3
Value for the money: 2.5/3
Unique formulation or unique technology: 2.5/3