This is part of our ongoing series helping consumers better understand chemicals, chemistry, and product formulations. We translate the science, bust the myths, and give you an honest assessment, so you can make informed choices for your family!
Ingredient: Polysorbate 80 (aka polyoxyethylene sorbitan monooleate or Tween™ 80)
What it is: Polysorbate 80 is made from natural sorbitol and plant-based oleic acid.
What it does: Currently, the main use of Polysorbate 80 is as an emulsifier or defoamer in foods, vitamins, medicines, and vaccines. But, this versatile ingredient can also act as a surfactant in soaps and cosmetics, as well as a solubilizer – which is what we use it for. As a solubilizer in our mouthwash, it helps dissolve ingredients so that they can more easily blend together.
Why we use it: Polysorbate 80 is extremely versatile and effective while also being non-toxic, non mutagenic, non carcinogenic, with very little potential for human skin irritation, sensitization, or phototoxicity. It’s in The Handbook of Green Chemicals and it’s Whole Foods Premium Body Care approved (whose standards, developed by a team of scientists over the course of years, are some of the strictest available). If these credible sources give it a thumbs-up, we do too.
Why we’re featuring it today: Since we launched our Honest Mouthwash, we’ve been hearing some comments from our community about using Polysorbate 80 because it doesn’t have the best online reputation. Today, we wanted to take the opportunity to assure everyone that in this circumstance there should be nothing to worry about. Just as we do with all of our ingredients, we carefully vet all the science (not media hype) and apply it to our specific formulations and intended use. Here’s what we learned:
One of the primary concerns people have regarding Polysorbate 80 is toxic contamination from carcinogenic ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane – a legitimate concern indeed. But, we’re extremely selective about our sourcing and manufacturing partners and this is not an issue for our food-grade (not the lesser quality cosmetic-grade) Polysorbate 80.
Another legitimate concern people have is it’s almost ubiquitous use in foods and we find that disturbing, too. It’s not a natural part of our diet and probably shouldn’t be consumed in large amounts. Even so, it’s estimated that in Europe and the U.S. people eat about 100 mg of Polysorbate 80 in foods every day, but a 2008 study concluded that there was no observable adverse effects at doses up to 140,000 mg for an average adult. Aside from that window of safety, in the case of mouthwash, you’re supposed to spit it out — anything you might absorb or unintentionally swallow would be nominal and not expected to cause any risks whatsoever.
In addition to the concerns above, as we were researching this ingredient, we also saw claims of health risks made on various websites that both misrepresented and sensationalized the science and featured extremely specific exposures that do not extrapolate to mouthwash (as above). Here’s what we read:
Polysorbate 80 is “linked to infertility in mice” and “severe ovary deformities.” The actual study in referred to in this case demonstrated reproductive impacts, but not infertility per se and it was only after injecting newborn mice with Polysorbate 80. Certainly concerning for vaccines containing Polysorbate 80, but not mouthwash.
Polysorbate 80 is “linked to anaphylactic shock in pregnant women.” This “study” was actually one pregnant woman who had a severe allergic reaction to a multivitamin administered via IV. Doctors identified Polysorbate 80 as the cause, but no other incidences of this type of reaction have been reported.
Polysorbate 80 can “increase the risk of tumor growth, stroke, heart attack, heart failure and more.” These references turned out to be potential side effects of a drug called darbepoetin alfa which is sometime used with patients undergoing chemotherapy or those with chronic kidney disease. We noticed that this drug is sometimes referred to as such: “Generic Name: darbepoetin alfa (polysorbate 80).” The parenthetical inclusion of Polysorbate 80 makes one assume the two names are interchangeable and one in the same, but that is not the case at all. Darbepoetin alfa is made from Chinese hamster ovary cells and is NOT the same thing as Polysorbate 80. It’s only written this way because the commercial preparation of this drug includes Polysorbate 80 — but that does not mean Polysorbate 80 on it’s own causes all of these terrible side effects. Talk about a vast misinterpretation of the facts! Who knew a couple of little parentheses could lead to such confusion!
All in all, we’re confident in the safety of our choice to use Polysorbate 80 in our mouthwash and hope everyone considers the factual evidence — and not just the internet hype. Please do let us know if you have additional questions or concerns. We’re always happy to address them!
Final Report on the Safety Assessment of Polysorbates 20, 21, 40, 60, 61, 65, 80, 81, and 85. International Journal of Toxicology (1984) 3: 51-82
Comprehensive Investigation of Hydroxypropyl Methylcellulose, Propylene Glycol, Polysorbate 80, and Hydroxypropyl-Beta-Cyclodextrin for use in General Toxicology Studies. Toxicol. Sci. (2010) 117 (2): 485-492.
“Evaluation of developmental neurotoxicity of polysorbate 80 in rats“. Reproductive Toxicology 25(1): 89–52.
Polysorbate 80 in medical products and nonimmunologic anaphylactoid reactions. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. (2005) 95(6):593-9.
My husband and I welcomed four babies into the world last August. We already had a one-year-old son who was the love of our lives and is now a big brother to four more little loves. Although there’s a lot more on our to-do lists and life is hectic our world has changed in the best way! With the support of our friends, family, and each other, my husband and I are raising five little ones together.
Honest asked me to share what surprised me most about having multiples, and I guess it’s not really a surprise, or shouldn’t be, but I’m surprised that I barely have any time to sit down, or finish a cup of coffee, or eat lunch. I’m going practically nonstop from the time I wake up. Even on the days I have help! There’s just always something that needs to be done. Actually, there’s always lots of somethings to be done! I’m so glad we prepared ahead of time! Of course, you can never fully prepare for everything four babies require but planning was our best friend before the babies arrived.
I wrote a blog post in December about our experiencing having quads. In the more than five months since I had them, we’ve learned a lot. Below are some tips for parents expecting multiples, or anyone expecting.
For any soon-to-be parent of multiples, here is what I’ve learned:
You can read more about Kerry’s life with quads on her blog, Quads Make It Seven.
Are you feeling inspired by the Olympics? We are! Here are two Olympic inspired exercises that you can add to your workouts, created by fitness expert and mommy-to-be, Sara Haley. Both combine cardio and resistance training (with a special focus on the butt, legs, and core) to leave you feeling pumped up — just like our US athletes!
SKI Cardio Montage: This drill simulates telemark and downhill skiing.
1) Begin in a lunge with the back foot lifted in a telemark position.
2) Jump up (or modify by stepping like Sara) and switch the feet and land in a lunge so you are skiing with the opposite leg in front.
3) Slalom by jumping (or modify by quickly stepping like Sara) feet together and over to the right sitting into the right hip. Work to keep heels on the floor and knees and feet together; counterbalance with your arms.
4) Jump (or modify by quickly stepping like Sara) to the other side. Repeat sequence for 60 seconds.
SNOWBOARD Booty Burn:
1) In an exaggerated snowboard stance sit into a squat with hands out in front of you or on your hips for balance.
2) Shift your weight into right leg, picking up right heel into a Side Slip & hold for 8.
3) Place heel down & glide by tapping left foot back behind the right foot and back out to the side 8 times.
The best way to increase the intensity of body weight exercises (meaning exercises with no equipment) is to either make your movements bigger or faster. For instance, in the exercises provided, you could keep your movements a little smaller and work for speed or you could make them a little bit bigger and add more power, whether that means jumping higher or farther, or even just moving deeper into your lunges (for those of you wanting to keep it low impact).
Has watching the Olympics inspired you to take-up a new sport or hobby, or simply workout more often? Tell us in the comments!
Sara Haley is an international fitness expert and creator of The Daily Sweat. She’s a certified trainer and instructor by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) and the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA), and has traveled the world teaching master classes and educating other fitness instructors and trainers. Sara helped develop programs for JUKARI, the branded workout series between Reebok and Cirque du Soleil, and created and starred in numerous Reebok & Gaiam DVD workout programs. Sara is most well-known for her best-selling pregnancy workout program, Expecting More®.
This post is solely for informational purposes. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for health advice. Before undertaking any course of exercise, you should seek the advice of your physician or other health care provider.
As the diaper category manager and part of the amazing product team at Honest, I get to be involved in so many exciting projects. Together with the design team, we create the adorable patterns that are featured on the Honest diapers. The work environment here just can’t be beat. Every day I wake up excited for the new challenges and experiences the day will bring. I am so fortunate to be a part of such an amazing company, with an outstanding culture and the best, hard-working people. Really, I’m a very lucky girl.
I am obsessed with the hand sanitizer spray! I carry one in my purse and one in my gym bag at all times, so it’s perfect that they come in packs of two! It smells amazing and I love knowing that I can have clean hands no matter where I am. I teach a class at FIDM one night a week, and now my students are hooked on it as well! I love spreading the word about a great product that stops the spread of germs!
Recently, we had a blood drive at The Honest Company for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. One pint of blood can save up to three babies! We had a great time donating, and it’s nice to know that 20 minutes of your day can make such a big difference.
My fiancé has terrible allergies and is extremely sensitive to cleaning products. Before working at Honest, I tried so many different brands, all of which would leave him itching and sneezing each time we cleaned. I’ve since converted our entire household to only Honest cleaning and bath and body products. My fiancé’s allergies have significantly improved! We love that they are safe and non-toxic, and they smell amazing!
I love to spend time with my fiancé, and I am currently planning our September wedding! We enjoy spending time with family and friends, entertaining, and going to the farmer’s market. I also love to cook and bake. The best thing I made recently was a gluten-free and flourless chocolate cake for New Year’s Eve. It was so decadent and delicious that I am still being asked for the recipe! At least once a year, we try to make it to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, one of our favorite vacation spots.