Thursday, August 14, 2014

WaterWipes USA- A Terrible Idea

UPDATE 8/14/14:

More than two years have passed since I originally wrote this. Apparently the company has become more prominent and still sells this awful product (and is now even MORE expensive). I went to their Facebook page this morning and saw multiple reports of moldy wipes.

Their Amazon reviews also show several reports of moldy wipes. Some people blame themselves for putting them in other containers and some people realize the truth- these wipes are NOT SAFE for babies! There is nothing to prevent this type of mold and bacterial growth. Steer clear!


Last night, I was harvesting my crops on FarmVille like always and I look to the right and there is this ad from WaterWipes USA. Basically their ad says 100% Chemical Free! As a chemist I was instantly annoyed.


The product is a baby wipe moistened with 99.9% water and 0.1% grapefruit seed extract. This is the link to their facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/WaterWipesUSA and their company website: http://www.dermah2o.com/ I was in a bit of a snarky mood so I went to their Facebook page and left a comment. "Dihydrogen Monoxide is still a chemical." These kind of claims always make me mad. EVERYTHING on this earth is made from chemicals. NOTHING is "chemical-free". Companies that make these claims are pandering to the ignorant and scientifically illiterate people who suffer from chemo-phobia.

Obviously I am a cosmetic/ personal care chemist, but I am also a mom. I had a natural, unmedicated birth but I would never even think of not having my child vaccinated. I breastfed but when I went back to work, Sarah gave her pumped milk in bottles made with BPA. I grow my own vegetables and can them myself too- but I use fertilizer and pesticides in my garden and on my fruit trees. Basically what I'm saying is this- look at the data, evaluate the source of the data and then determine whether you need to avoid chemical X or Y.

The biggest hype about this product is the worst of all- the fact that it is preservative free. The 0.1% GSE is SUPPOSED to be there as a preservative but as I have learned through research for work- GRAPEFRUIT SEED EXTRACT IS NOT A PRESERVATIVE!!! If you don't believe me look for yourself:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10399191
http://www.naturalingredient.org/Articles/Report0520.pdf

I'll summarize it here. There are no regulations for how GSE is manufactured. Most GSE has has been preserved by another preservative (i.e. parabens, benzethonium chloride, etc). When tested, the GSE samples in which no preservative can be detected show no anti microbial activity. In other words, if you leave a pack of these wipes open, and some mold spores float into the package, you will have created the perfect petri dish to grow that mold because there is NOTHING in here to prevent it. Since this product is for cleaning babies butts- a place where bacteria is plentiful- imagine if you were wiping up a big mess and some got on your fingers and you reached for another wipe. Now you have inoculated your package of wipes with fecal coloform bacteria- or E.Coli- where it will grow and multiply unchecked. Preservatives keep products from going rancid, and growing mold and bacteria. There is no data linking parabens to breast cancer or any other type of cancer. Check out the American Cancer Societies position on parabens: http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/CancerCauses/OtherCarcinogens/AtHome/antiperspirants-and-breast-cancer-risk basically, they say that there is really no connection between the two and that the study "linking" them was a poorly designed study.

If all of this isn't enough to convince you that this product is a terrible idea, the price for a pack of wipes is $4.99. $4.99 for a package of washcloths moistened with water. If you have a sensitive skinned baby, wet a washcloth in the sink and wipe your baby's butt with it. At least you can wash it out when you are done. There a lot of reasonable options for disposable baby wipes for babies with sensitive skin.
Pampers Sensitive Skin wipes do not have any alcohol, fragrance or dyes (the main contributors to skin sensitivity) but they are still well preserved.
Huggies Natural Care- fragrance free (all the same reasons as above)
BabyGanics Thick n Klean wipes a more expensive option but it does have an effective preservative, plus they claim a biodegradable status and have no parabens if you are still worried about that
Walgreens Comfort-Smooth Baby wipes with Aloe (unscented) almost the same product as BabyGanics except they make no claim about the biodegradability and they are half the price.

There are literally hundreds of valid options for gentle, disposable wipes that are also well preserved. I don't know about you but I would rather wipe my babys' butt with a well preserved wipe than mold. Hell, I would rather wipe her butt with just about anything besides these terrible wipes!