Bath & Body Works Just Debunked This Widespread Rumor

The company just addressed a damaging social media post.

For many of us, Bath & Body Works is our go-to spot for any fragrance needs. Offering a wide variety of soaps, lotions, air fresheners, and candles, these stores are known for different seasonal items—who doesn't love the smell of fresh linen for summer or falling leaves when October rolls around? Recently, however, a damaging rumor about Bath & Body Works products went viral on social media. Read on to learn more about the recent controversy, and why the company was compelled to respond.

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A viral post claimed that certain Bath & Body Works products could put your health in danger.

Bath & Body Works products on shelves
Mohd Syis Zulkipli / Shutterstock

In an April 18 post, a Facebook user claimed that Bath & Body Works products could cause infertility and organ damage, as reported by Madamenoire. The user linked to a Safety Data Sheet for the "Bath & Body Works Wallflowers Home Fragrance Refill Winter Candy Apple" product, which was last revised on Nov. 11, 2019. The user pointed to hazards listed on the sheet, including "suspected of damaging fertility or the unborn child," as well as "damage to organs through prolonged and repeated exposure." According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), manufacturers, distributors, or importers are required to provide these Safety Data Sheets to communicate information about hazardous chemicals.

The Facebook post, which has over 100,000 shares, also said consumers should avoid triclosan, fragrance, phthalates, parabens, formaldehyde, and hydroquinone when shopping for these products. At the end of the post, the user claimed companies like Bath & Body Works can pay the Environmental Working Group (EWG) for positive product ratings.

Bath & Body Works dispelled the rumor and outlined how Safety Data Sheets are used.

woman carrying bath and body works shopping back
Yuliasis / Shutterstock

In an email correspondence with Snopes, the fragrance giant said that all products go through "extensive review to ensure safety." Clarifying the use of Safety Data Sheets, specifically the one used in the Facebook post, a Bath & Body Works spokesperson said they "do not reflect the safety of products when used as directed."

"These sheets are a standard practice in the home fragrance and consumer products industry," the spokesperson said, adding that the sheets are posted for the benefit of manufacturing companies and emergency personnel, who have larger quantities of chemicals for industrial use. Addressing comments about products being unsafe for those that are pregnant, the Bath & Body Works spokesperson said the company recommends consulting a doctor with specific questions.

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The EWG also responded to claims about compensation.

air freshener diffuser on table
New Africa / Shutterstock

Bath & Body Works stated that they have never paid money to the EWG, and the environmental group corroborated this. The EWG denied that companies can pay to get a hazard score, telling Snopes that it "does not charge a fee for a product to be rated in either our Skin Deep Cosmetics Database or our Guide to Health Cleaners Database." The Bath & Body Works Wallflowers Home Fragrance Refill Winter Candy Apple is also not ranked in the EWG databases.

However, the product in question is an air freshener, which is a product category that the EWG recommends all consumers avoid, due to indoor air pollution.

"EWG has previously conducted tests for airborne pollutants and indoor air quality after using air fresheners and other cleaning products, and we are currently doing another round of product testing to understand how fragranced products like this can potentially impact health," the agency said in the email. "Our work has and will always put protecting public health first."

Bath & Body Works faced backlash for a different reason earlier this year.

Bath and Body Works store at mall
Mike Mozart / Flickr

In Feb. 2022, the company introduced a Black History Month-inspired collection, repackaging products with African-inspired prints and patterns. As part of the initiative, Bath & Body Works announced they would be donating $500,000 to the National Urban League and the Columbus Urban League. But many took to social media to speak out against the campaign, which used traditional kente cloth designs, calling the company out for reusing existing scents, as reported by The Daily Beast.

A spokesperson for the Bath & Body Works told The Daytona Beach News-Journal that the company is "committed to improving our culture through our diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, and part of that work has been to celebrate cultural milestones and moments—including Black History Month." The spokesperson emphasized the commitment to "fight against racism and equality," but did not address the reuse of existing scents, the outlet reported.

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