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* Please read TIA's posts on What Is It: Sodium Benzoate and What Is It: Preservatives and Parabens and Are They Safe
* Also known as E211
Sodium Benzoate is a salt of Benzoic Acid, found naturally in cranberries, prunes, plums, cinnamon, ripe cloves, and apples and used as a preservative in cosmetics and personal care product formulas as a fragrance ingredient, masking ingredient, anti-corrosive agent, and most frequently, as a preservative. As a preservative, it prevents bacteria and fungi from developing in products and formulas and changing their compositions (Wikipedia). When combined with caffeine in Caffeine Sodium Benzoate, it can have a sunscreen effect, and provide UVB protection with antioxidant activity.
Sodium Benzoate is a controversial ingredient because of its potential to interact with Ascorbic Acid (a Vitamin C derivative) and benzene, a known carcinogen. According to the International Programme on Chemical Safety, Sodium Benzoate is not a toxin or carcinogen on its own, and large amounts of this ingredient would have to be consumed, not applied topically, for adverse effects to be seen. "In mice studies where the animals were fed sodium benzoate, no adverse effects were reported, and the mice’s life expectancies were not shortened, nor was their health affected in any way" (WiseGeek.com).
It is FDA approved and has received the GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) rating, and the CIR found that doses used in cosmetics and personal care products were not high enough to cause potential reproductive and developmental effects. "Although, genotoxicity tests for these ingredients were mostly negative, there were some assays that were positive. Carcinogenicity studies, however, were negative" (CosmeticsInfo.org).
The Cosmetics Database also found it to be a low hazard ingredient.
Safety Measures/Side Effects:
However. The Cosmetics Database still found concerns regarding cancer, developmental and reproductive toxicity, organ system toxicity, irritation and biochemical cellular changes with Sodium Benzoate as an ingredient in cosmetics and personal care products. One or more animal studies showed brain and nervous system effects at moderate doses, broad systemic effects at low doses, and in vitro tests on mammalian cells showed positive mutation results. One or more animal studies showed biochemical changes at high doses where the human health implications are not yet well understood, and animal studies showed skin irritation at high doses as well.
Although Sodium Benzoate itself is considered a relatively safe ingredient, it is often found in formulas combined with any Vitamin C ingredient, benzene can be created, and it is known that heat, light and shelf life can also affect the rate at which benzene is formed, according to Wikipedia. Benzene is considered a high hazard ingredient by the Cosmetics Database and is a known human carcinogen that can cause vomiting, irritation of the stomach, dizziness, sleepiness, convulsions, and death. "Benzene damages the bone marrow and can cause a decrease in red blood cells, leading to anemia. It can also cause excessive bleeding and depress the immune system, increasing the chance of infection. Benzene causes leukemia and is associated with other blood cancers and pre-cancers of the blood" (Wikipedia).
Some studies have shown that Sodium Benzoate itself can damage DNA by attacking the cells' mitochondria. Because mitochondria are so vital to the functions of cells and their oxygen consumption, damage can lead to malfunction and disease. A professor at the University of Sheffield found that Sodium Benzoate and the damage that it can cause to DNA structure can be linked to a variety of neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson's Disease, and can damage the aging process as a whole.
Recommended Products w/ Sodium Benzoate:
Ole Henriksen’s African Red Tea Face Mist, Frederic Fekkai’s Marine Summer Hair Beach Waves, Kinerase Clear Skin Regulating Mask, No Melt Sunscreen from Elemis, Pure Basic Tea Tree and Rosemary Anti-Dandruff Shampoo and Anti-Dandruff Conditioner, Glotherapeutics Glo-Peptide + Defense Serum, Malin + Goetz Vitamin B5 Hand Treatment, Medik8 Firewall, Juice Organics Pomegranate Shampoo, April Rain Night Rainew, Juice Organics Sulfate and Paraben Free Shampoo and Conditioners