It's been a 14 year journey of many firsts for Biome. We go to exhausting lengths for our products to be mindful on many levels, not only free from toxins and all synthetic preservatives and fragrances, we have been vegetarian from day one and are 98% vegan, we also avoid products made overseas where there is an adequate Australian-made alternative, and excess packaging.
Every product at Biome is
Plus, we consider whether the product and its ingredients are:
We're passionate about seeing through the greenwash and have rigorously vetted our products so you don't have to worry. This includes The Whole Story of where the product is made, by who, safety for you, the workers and environment, and what happens at the end of its life. For example, we don't see the need to import Himalayan Rock Salt and Magnesium flakes from Tibet. Why dig up Himalayan hillsides to ship around the world when we have abundant sustainable salts in Australia, such as Murray River Pink Salt, Tassie Sea Salt, and Amazing Oils Magnesium.
Each claim is tested and if new information comes to light, Biome acts immediately to find the facts and will remove popular products if they no longer meet our standards.
We believe that the use of the term "sustainable palm oil" or "green palm" confuses the consumer and thus the surest solution is to avoid palm oil. However, because the WWF has stated that it does not believe a boycott of palm oil is the solution, we support some palm oil, but only products that contain Identity Preserved (IP) palm oil, which is 100% single origin, unblended and can be traced back to the plantation where it was grown.
We are often told by suppliers that they use "sustainable” palm oil. However, we believe this is unlikely or problematic as currently the effectiveness of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is yet to be proven. Manufacturers claim to be using sustainable palm oil because they are members of, or supplied by members of, the RSPO. However, this in itself is no guarantee as members only need commit to "working towards" producing a sustainable product. Even with "Certified Sustainable Palm Oil" (CSPO), because palm oil is traded in bulk on the international commodity market, the supply chain infrastructure makes it impossible to guarantee exactly where the palm oil originated from. » What we believe about palm oil.
We also only stock products that have provided full ingredient disclosure, including the specific plant oil contained in the product - we do not accept simply "plant-based surfactant" or "vegetable oil". We support the lobby to require labelling of palm oil on food packaging.
We believe it is misleading to label these fabrics as “bamboo sheets” and US companies such as Norstrom and J.C. Penny have paid large fines for doing so. The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) ruled in 2010, it can not be called “bamboo sheets” or “bamboo socks”, because it is actually a synthetic fabric made from rayon/viscose fibres that came from cellulose found in bamboo. To be 100% honest with consumers these products need to be called “Viscose sheets” or “rayon/viscose made from bamboo cellulose”.
The process of turning hard bamboo into a soft fabric requires extensive processing with hazardous chemicals, including sulfuric acid, potentially endangering factory workers and polluting the environment. The US FTC states “the soft textiles you see labeled ‘bamboo’ don’t contain any part of the bamboo plant. They are made from bamboo that has been processed into rayon using toxic chemicals. When bamboo is processed into rayon, no trace of the original plant is left.” » Learn more about whether bamboo is eco friendly
We offer many natural skin care and makeup ranges that use natural preservative systems rather than synthetic preservatives such as Phenoxyethanol. We believe manufacturers claim this because they wish to extend the shelf life of their product and the synthetic versions are cheaper. With effort there are natural solutions, such as brands like Mokosh who use no water in their range to elminate the need for preservatives.
Biome stocks some products made from silicone where they are useful for eliminating single-use plastics. However, we consider silicone to be a type of synthetic plastic. Some people attempt to pass it off as a "natural' material derived from sand, but hydrocarbons from fossil fuels are used in its manufacture.
There is also limited research on its health effects, so we follow the precautionary principle. Silicone can leach chemicals when heated, particularly when in contact with oils. There is no official classfication for 'silicone' so you can not be sure if it is high quality food grade silicone that does not contain synthetic fillers. Silicone also has an end of life issue because it does not biodegrade and is not able to be recycled through most Council recycling schemes. » See our extensive plastic free range here
BPA became world-renowned for its toxicity, but manufacturers are now using it to justify the safety of plastic while ignoring the other toxins in plastics! "BPA free" is not enough. The plastic must must also be free from other toxins such as Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC). Many soft plastic lunch boxes and plastic bath toys are made from PVC and it is often not disclosed on the label.
PVC is the most environmentally damaging of all plastics and is a proven toxin to humans, as demonstrated by bans on its use and disposal in many countries, cities, and hospitals around the world. Yet, Australia falls behind the regulations of other developed nations needlessly exposing our children to its persistent toxic effects.
Our list grows as we learn and as manufacturers keep changing formulations to get around banned ingredients!
You will not find at Biome these common ingredients in cosmetics and household products that are extracted from living or dead animals: Leather, Collagen, Carmine (Cochineal), Tallow, Emu and other animal fats/oils, Guanine/Pearl Essence (fish scales used for sparkle in nail polish such as Butter London), Gelatin, Lanolin, Squalene (if from sharks), Ambergris (from whales), Estrogen / Estragiol, Retinol (Vitamin A), Musk, Keratin, Boar Bristles, Horsehair, Silk. Some Biome products do contain Beeswax and Honey (only from small, mindful, local producers) and Milk (Australian Carob chocolate because we believe in supporting Australian-grown Carob industry).
A common active ingredient in deodorant & mostly antiperspirant. It is often linked to Alzheimer’s and brain disorders and is a possible risk factor in breast cancer. Aluminium based compounds in antiperspirants form a temporary plug within the sweat duct that stops the flow of sweat to the skin’s surface which then forces toxins to flow back into the bloodstream. Because underarm antiperspirants or deodorants are applied near the breast and contain potentially harmful ingredients, several scientists and others have suggested a possible connection between their use and breast cancer. However, no scientific evidence links the use of these products to the development of breast cancer. Also a suspected respiratory toxicity, human neurotoxicity. Aluminium compounds can be found in drinking water, antiperspirants, deodorants, vaccinations, baking powders, feminine hygiene products, cow & soy milk, baby formula, antacids, and ofcourse aluminium foil, pots and pans.
Petroleum derived and used an antistatic, deodorant & preservative. Restricted in cosmetics in Canada. Suspected respiratory, liver, immune & neuro-toxicity, allergy reactions & dermatitis. Found in facial moisturisers, baby lotion & some asthma inhalers.
Petroleum derived, highly toxic. Banned in the EU as a fragrance ingredient. Recognised carcinogen, wildlife and environmental toxicity. Chronic urticarial. Respiratory, liver, endocrine. Found in lipstick, lipgloss, lip liner, moisturiser & eye shadow.
Petroleum derived. Skin irritant, human skin toxicity, suspected liver, respiratory, kidney, immune and neurotoxicity.
Bisphenol A (BPA) is an iindustrial chemical that has been used to make certain plastics and resins since the 1960s. It’s used in containers that store food such as lunchboxes and water bottles and it’s in the lining of many food and beverage packaging to “protect” food from contamination and extend shelf life. Small amounts of BPA can migrate into food and beverages from containers, especially when heated in a microwave. Most metal products, such as tin food, bottle tops and water supply lines are lined with BPA-containing resin. Some dental sealants and composites also may contain BPA. It’s also used in non-food products. Exposure to BPA is a concern because of possible health effects of BPA on the brain, behaviour and prostate gland of foetuses, infants and children. It can potentially effect the liver and kidneys, and it may possibly affect reproductive, nervous, immune, metabolic and cardiovascular systems. Additional research suggests a possible link between BPA and increased blood pressure. BPA was singled out as the sole chemical of concern in the bisphenol group, and regulated as such. Manufacturers largely replaced BPA with bisphenol S (BPS), which researchers are now discovering is equally as problematic as BPA. Note: In 2010, the Australian Government announced a voluntary phase out of BPA use in polycarbonate baby bottles.
A red pigment or dye derived from the insect (Coccus Cacti Beetle) native to South America and Mexico that live as parasites on cactus plants. Also referred to as cochineal, crimson lake or natural red 4,CI 75470, or E120. Used as a colourant in food, cosmetics and textiles. Has been associated with severe allergic reactions. This ingredient is listed in the PETA's Caring Consumer guide as a substance of animal origin. Carmine can be found in the following – lipstick, lip gloss, blush, eye liner, foundation, mascara.
Antidandruff and denaturant. A by product of coal processing is a well known human carcinogen. Hair stylists and other professionals are exposed to these chemicals in hair dye almost daily. Banned in cosmetics in Canada & EU. Suspected mutagen & skin irritant. Found in hair dyes, soap & shampoo.
Although it can be initially derived from coconut it’s then mixed with harmful impurities such as dimethylamino propylamine. May be petroleum derived. Antistatic, cleansing foam boasting, surfactant. Suspected immunotoxicity, allergic reactions, may cause sensitisation. Found in toothpaste, body wash/cleansers, shampoo, baby soap, bubble bath.
Often used in cosmetics to adjust the ph, and used with many fatty acids to convert acid to salt (stearate), which then becomes the base for a cleanser. TEA causes allergic reactions including eye irritation, dryness of hair and skin. Could be toxic if absorbed into the body over a long period of time. These chemicals are already restricted in Europe due to known carcinogenic effects. Repeated skin applications of DEA based detergents resulted in a major increase in the incidence of liver and kidney cancer.
Toxic by product of the ethoxylation process used to make some cosmetic products. Banned in cosmetics now in most countries. A known carcinogen. The EWG stated that it contaminates up to 46% of personal care products.
The term "dioxin" is commonly used for a family of toxic chemicals ound throughout the world in the environment. The highest levels of these compounds are found in some soils, sediments and food, especially dairy products, meat, fish and shellfish. Very low levels are found in plants, water and air. Dioxins are environmental pollutants. They are persistent organic pollutants (POPs). Dioxins are of concern because of their highly toxic potential. Experiments have shown they affect a number of organs and systems. They can cause reproductive and developmental problems, damage the immune system, interfere with hormones and also cause cancer.
Endocrine disrupting chemicals or compounds can mimic the hormone estrogen, a female sex hormone, & "interfere with the synthesis, secretion, transport, binding, action, or elimination of natural hormones in the body that are responsible for the maintenance of homeostasis (normal cell metabolism), reproduction, development, and/or behavior." Any system in the body controlled by hormones can be derailed by hormone disruptors. EDC’s are also associated with altering the reproductive function in males and females; increased incidence of breast cancer, abnormal growth patterns and neurodevelopmental delays in children, as well as changes in immune function. EDC's are mostly human-made and can interfere with endocrine (or hormone systems). Found in various materials such as pesticides, metals, additives or contaminants in food, and personal care products. EDCs have been suspected to cause cancerous tumors, birth defects, and other developmental disorders.
Emulsifying wax is created when a wax material (either a vegetable wax of some kind or a petroleum-based wax) is treated with a detergent (typically sodium dodecyl sulfate or polysorbates) to cause it to make oil and water bind together into a smooth emulsion. It is a white waxy solid with a low fatty alcohol odour. The ingredients for Emulsifying Wax NF (meaning that it conforms to the specifications of the National Formulary) are: Cetearyl Alcohol, Polysorbate 60, PEG-150 Stearate, and Steareth-20. It has the characteristics of cetyl alcohol combined with the viscosity building effect of stearyl alcohol as an effective thickener and helps form stable emulsions.
(FRP’s) are highly potent and considered a known human carcinogen by The International Agency for Research on Carcinogens (IARC) and has been linked to occupational related cancers: nasal and nasopharyngeal. Formaldehyde though now restricted in Canada is still used in many cosmetic products to help prevent bacteria growth. In particular in nail polish and nail treatments. This chemical is also known to cause allergic skin reactions and may also be harmful to the immune system. It can also be found in body washes, conditioners, shampoos, cleansers, eye shadows, household cleaners & floor polish.
An abundance of hidden chemicals! Phthalates being just one. This is a particular category that is very scary. It may help sell products from face cream to laundry detergent, but was does “fragrance” & parfum actually mean? A term initially created to protect a company’s “secret formula.” But as the consumer you could be putting on a concoction that contains thousands of chemicals that are hazardous to your health. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) Skin Deep Database and the Campaign for safe cosmetics, an average of 14 chemicals in 17 well known brand fragrance products were not listed on their labels. Fragrance mixes can contain hormone disruptors and are among the top 5 allergens in the world. Fragrance/parfum chemicals are also associated with allergies, dermatitis, headaches, dizziness, respiratory distress and potential effects on the reproductive system. It can be found in many products such as perfume, moisturisers, deodorants, aftershave, cologne, conditioner, shampoo and body wash to name a few. See more about this in Kate Grenville’s book – The Case Against Fragrance Triclosan Petroleum derived preservative.
Lead is a toxic metal that may cause a range of health effects, from behavioral problems and learning disabilities, to seizures and death. Children six years old and under are most at risk. The only lead we are aware of in Biome's range in some insulated water bottles and containers where it has been used to plug the hole under the outside base of the bottle that is created during manufacture. With all our insulated bottles/containers any lead spot is covered/sealed so that it is not exposed.
Melamine is made primarily of synthetic polymers, including formaldehyde, and sometimes urea (restricted in Canada & animal derived). The compound is heat and pressure-treated, creating a resin that can be shaped and molded for a variety of uses. It is used to make plastics, dinnerware, dishes, counter tops, eating utensils, laminates, flooring, pesticides, fertilisers and even commercial fish feed, and has in some cases been added to some milk products to falsely increase the apparent level of protein. Melamine alone is of very low toxicity (comparable to table salt), but when combined with cyanuric acid, animal studies have suggested that kidney problems occur. Melamine dishware is often referred to as melamine, but is actually a polymer of melamine and formaldehyde. Melamine can leach into food and beverages (especially those that are acidic or warm).
Note that many of the "bamboo plastic" products on the market, such as children's plates and cups, contain Melamine to increase the durability of the bamboo plastic.
Function - Antistatic and solvent. A by-product of petroleum that is used in baby oil, moisturisers, styling gels lip gloss, concealer, eyeshadow and lipstick. Suspected carcinogen, suspected respiratory and liver toxicity. May cause and aggravate acne. Skin irritant.
N-nitrosamines (or nitrosamines), many of which are carcinogens, are used in the manufacture of cosmetics, pesticides, tobacco products and in most rubber products including rubber baby bottle teats, soothers, balloons and condoms. They can migrate into foods that contact the teat, such as milk and infant formula.
Note: Hevea (a rubber pacifier/soother brand that we stock) states the following on its website: Are Hevea pacifiers free from Nitrosamines? It is correct that nitrosamines canbe found in natural rubber, but Hevea passes all the test and regulations for pacifiers, which also test for the amount of nitromines. If the limit is too high it can be dangerous, but we have NOT detected any in our products, and we have them tested randomly.
A sunscreen agent and ultraviolet light absorber. Commercially produced from benzene (petroleum). Restricted in Japan. Suspected liver and kidney toxicity. Absorbs through the skin. Associated with endocrine disruption. Suspected wildlife and environmental toxicity. Found in lip balm, fragrances, lipstick, moisturiser, antiaging creams, sunscreen.
Petroleum derived preservatives. Possess estrogen-mimicking properties that are associated with increased risk of breast cancer. These chemicals are absorbed through the skin and have been identified in biopsy samples from breast tumors. They can be found in makeup, body washes, deodorants, shampoos and facial cleansers. You can also find them in food and pharmaceutical products. Suspected endocrine disruptors and cause reproductive and development disorders. Suspected skin or sense organ toxicity. Contact dermatitis and skin irritant. Wildlife and environmental toxicity.
Very large family of conditioning and cleaning agents/solvents that go by many names and found in a wide range of cosmetics including hair products, toothpaste, facial cleanser, bar soap, makeup, deodorant, sunless tanning, shaving cream, baby products and conditioners. These petroleum based synthetic chemicals are frequently impure and contaminated with 1/4 –dioxane which is banned in most countries. Look for all ingredients starting with PEG -(followed by numbers.)
Perfluorinated Chemicals (PFCs) are widely used as industrial surfactants and are used in numerous consumer products for their stain/water resistant properties, such as products to resist grease, oil, stains, and water, and are also used in fire-fighting foam. PFC coated products may include non-stick cookware, Teflon® , GORE-TEX® , waterproof clothing, fast food wrappers, pizza boxes, popcorn bags, stain-resistant carpet, paint, and windshield washer fluid. There is widespread wildlife and human exposure to several PFCs. PFCs are persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic chemicals. They are suspected of causing liver damage, some cancers, alterations in thyroid hormone levels & may affect cell growth. Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA, also known as C8) is a perfluorinated chemical (PFC). WWF has waged a Detox campaign against outdoor wear companies. These are used in
Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) are the most researched of the PFC substances. The carbon-fluorine bond of these chemicals are incredibly strong, which makes it resist breakdown and causes PFCs to build up in the food web. Once PFCs are released into the environment, they remain indefinitely and do not break down.
Phenoxyethanol is a synthetic preservative & fragrance ingredient widely used in the cosmetics & personal care industry. A cheaper alternative to natural preservatives. Although it’s approved at 1% or less there are growing concerns on it’s safety. According to the chemical maze it’s a suspected reproductive and developmental toxin. Exposure may include headaches, tremors, eye irritation and depression. Toxic to the kidneys, nervous system and liver. EWG state concerns as it being an irritant to skin, eyes or lungs. Other concerns include organ system toxicity (non reproductive).
Phthalates (also called "plasticisers") are a group of petroleum derived chemicals used to make plastics like PVC more flexible and as solvents. Phthalates are used in hundreds of consumer products from household cleaners to food packaging, perfume/colognes, hairspray, deodorants, cosmetics, and many other personal-care products. Phthalates have been found to disrupt the endocrine system. Researchers have linked phthalates to asthma, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, obesity and type II diabetes, low IQ, neurodevelopmental issues, behavioral issues, autism spectrum disorders, altered reproductive development and male fertility issues. The main phthalates in cosmetics and personal care products are dibutyl phthalate in nail polish, diethyl phthalate in perfumes and lotions, and dimethyl phthalate in hair spray. They are known to be endocrine disruptors and have been linked to increased risk of breast cancer, early breast development in girls, and reproductive birth defects in males and females. Unfortunately, it is not disclosed on every product as it’s added to fragrances. See fragrance.
A widely used food and drink preservative to prevent the growth of mold, yeast and fungi. Some manufacturers claim that this is naturally derived and great if so. Though more than likely it’s synthetically derived from petroleum. Used as a preservative in cosmetics and baby products. May cause mild skin and eye irritation, urticarial and contact dermatitis. Found in cleansers, baby products & wipes, facial cleansers, conditioner. As it’s an approved preservative it’s popularity is growing. One to watch.
Propylene glycol, petroleum derived, is a small organic alcohol commonly used as a skin-conditioning agent & solvent. It’s classified as a skin irritant and penetrator. It has been associated with causing dermatitis as well as hives in humans. These sensitization effects can be manifested at propylene glycol concentrations as low as 2 percent. It can be found in moisturizers, sunscreen, cleansers, bar soap, makeup products, conditioners, shampoo, hand cream and hair sprays. Also in food & pet shampoo.
It's often reported that no other plastic presents such a direct environmental and human health threat as Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) does throughout its lifecycle. PVC, is the world's third-most widely produced synthetic plastic polymer, after polyethylene and polypropylene. PVC contaminates humans and the environment throughout every phase of its lifecycle – during its production, use, and disposal – resulting in large quantities of carcinogenic, hormone disrupting and otherwise harmful chemicals contaminating our air, earth, water and food resources. Greenpeace has pushed for the cessation of PVC production as dioxin is created from the manufacture & incineration of the substance. Also, items made from PVC will retain their form for decades & breakdown that occurs is just granulation - pieces simply become smaller (which animals can ingest). PVC is also difficult to recycle given the presence of additives including heavy metals such as lead & cadmium. Currently under 1% of PVC is recycled.
Function - Anti-foaming, binding, antistatic. Restricted in cosmetics in Canada. Absorbed via the skin & show marked effects on the adrenal glands and liver. Wildlife and environmental toxicity. Commonly found in colour cosmetics, hair care, deodorant, household cleaning products & solvents. Parabens Parabens are widely used preservatives that prevent the growth of bacteria, mold and yeast in cosmetic products. Sounds good, right? Not so fast, they do more than that.
This petroleum derived surfactant can be found in more than 90 percent of personal care and cleaning products (think foaming products). SLS’s are known to be skin, lung, and eye irritants. A major concern about SLS is its potential to interact and combine with other chemicals to form nitrosamines, a carcinogen. These combinations can lead to a host of other issues like kidney and respiratory damage. They can be found in shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, body wash/cleanser, liquid hand soaps, bubble bath, mascara and acne treatment.
Petroleum derived and used as an antistatic & preservative in hair products. Suspected liver and neuro-toxicity. Skin irritant & allergic reactions. Found in Styling gels/waxes and conditioners. Contains toluene.
Most of these chemicals are petroleum derived and function as a sunscreen agent, to absorb ultraviolet light. These chemicals are endocrine disruptors and are believed to be easily absorbed into the body. They may also cause cellular damage and cancer in the body. Common names are benzophenone, PABA, avobenzone, homosalate and ethoxycinnmate. They can be found in sunscreen products, lip gloss, lipstick, skin lightener, moisturiser, conditioner, foundation, tanning products.
If you take a look at your product label and notice FD&C or D&C, they represent artificial colors. F — representing food and D&C representing drug and cosmetics. These letters precede a color and number (e.g., D&C Red 27 or FD&C blue 1). These synthetic colors are derived from petroleum or coal tar sources. Synthetic colors are suspected to be a human carcinogen, a skin irritant and are linked to ADHD in children. The European Classification and Labeling considers it a human carcinogen and the European Union has banned it.
Similar to asbestos in composition. It’s found in baby powder, eye shadow, blush, facial powder, concealer, foundation & deodorant. Possible links to ovarian cancer and respiratory problems.
Petroleum derived & made from ethylenediamine, formaldehyde—a known carcinogen according to the National Cancer Institute—and sodium cyanide (which is made from the toxic gas hydrogen cyanide). It’s used to prevent the deterioration of cosmetic and personal care products. It also helps maintain clarity, protect fragrance compounds, and prevent rancidity. It’s is also a penetration enhancer. That means it breaks down the skin’s protective barrier, making it easier for other potentially harmful ingredients in the formula to sink deeper into your tissues and into your bloodstream. Skin & mucous membrane irritant. Harmful to aquatic organisms. Found in sunscreen, facial cleansers, foundation, moisturiser, conditioner and hold house cleaners & detergents.
A volatile petrochemical derived from petroleum or coal tar sources. You may see it on labels listed as benzene, toluol, phenylmethane, methylbenzene. Toluene is a potent solvent able to dissolve paint and paint thinner. It can affect your respiratory system, cause nausea and irritate your skin. Expecting mothers should avoid exposure to toluene vapors as it may cause developmental damage in the fetus. Toluene has also been linked to immune system toxicity. It can be found in nail polish, nail treatments and hair color/bleaching products.
Is a widely used antimicrobial chemical that’s a known endocrine disruptor. Disrupts thyroid function and reproductive hormones. A skin irritant. Very toxic to the aquatic environment. Restricted in cosmetics in Japan and Canada. Found in facial cleansers, liquid soap, bar soap, toothpaste and deodorant. Also in dishwashing liquid and pet shampoo.
Volatile Organic Compounds (or VOCs) are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids. VOCs are emitted by a wide array of products numbering in the thousands (they are widely used as ingredients in household products). They include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects like eye, nose, and throat irritation; headaches, loss of coordination, nausea; damage to liver, kidney, and central nervous system. Some VOCs can cause cancer in animals; some are suspected or known to cause cancer in humans. Examples of VOC’s: Formaldehyde, d-Limonene, toluene, acetone, ethanol (ethyl alcohol) 2-propanol (isopropyl alcohol), hexanal.