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I am so over Bath and Body Works.


When I was a kid (“once upon a time”), Bath and Body Works was a mythical land where a girl's friends discovered all the best things to get you for your birthday, be it hand sanitizer or lip balm. Then it got way out of hand. Every single friend, girl or guy-accompanied-by-girl-who-doesn't-actually-know-me-but-is-clearly-an-expert-on-girls, would go to BBW and buy on average three different items to give me for my birthday, every time I attempted to celebrate my birthday. Oh, yeah, because of that, my baby sister came to believe that BBW was the only place to buy good birthday gifts, so she usually wheedled my mom into shopping there for my birthday presents, too. I issued a ban on Bath and Body Works products. It didn't totally work since not everybody read the memo, and others, cough-little-sister-cough, just ignored it.

Even with the ban and me living on BBW to try to use it up, I still have 8 shower gel bottles (4 unopened large bottles, 2 half-used large, 1 mostly-unused smaller aromatherapy bottle, 1 partly-used travel size), 3 fragrance sprays (1 mostly-unused large, 1 large donated to my little sister, and 1 mostly-unused travel size), 1 aromatherapy lotion, 1 hand cream, 4 lip balms (3 mostly-used tubes and 1 little can-like thing), 3 little candles, and 3 – 4 tiny bottles of hand sanitizer. Oh, and a bottle of aromatherapy shampoo. It took me years to use up that first bottle of hand sanitizer (they were much bigger then and much cheaper per ounce). I used up some stuff but I also managed to regift a number of things. That's how ridiculous the BBW craze is.

The thing is, though, they don't even have good stuff.

I don't know about way back when they weren't cycling through new scents like every 3 months, but right now, I can tell you that the lotions leave my skin feeling greasy and nasty rather than soft or whatever and are the reason that I am strongly lotion-averse, that the hand cream gives me a rash, and that the shampoo fries my hair. What's the point of getting a pricey lotion if it's not even actually nice? And it's great that their products aren't tested on animals but if the hand cream has an allergen, it should at least be labeled if it's really impossible to make it hypoallergenic. I don't even know what's wrong with the shampoo but I suspect that it's a combination of harsh, oil-stripping ingredients (maybe the citrus components of a fragrance), the lack of a conditioner to balance the pH, and our friends the phosphates. Barring all else, it can't be that hard to make a phosphate-free version of the shampoo, can it?

The hand sanitizers, shower gels, and candles are not problematic for me—I haven't tried the air fresheners but some people are allergic—but they have different issues. The hand sanitizers (the regular kind? I know that they had a foaming sanitizer phase), which no longer come in bottles bigger than 1 ounce, keep going up in price, and the shower gel has been going up, too.

Also, a lot of the smells are starting to be unidentifiable because of the nondescriptive naming—“Country Chic” is an adorable name that tells me nothing about how it smells and they really should've made it smell earthy, like hay, instead of whatever it actually is—and the smells are no longer on point like before. One of the big draws of BBW when I was younger was that everywhere else, ‘strawberries’ didn't smell like strawberries but at BBW, ‘apples’ smelled exactly the same as apples at the grocery store. At BBW back then, even some improbable fragrance like ‘cotton’ smelled like cotton. Most of the new fragrances smell much too rich, as if the BBW fragrance experts can't smell anything unless it is overdone. If it says cookie or pie or anything like that, it probably smells like a brown sugar overdose. If it says anything else, then it probably doesn't smell memorable at all.

There are people aggressively defending BBW against complaints about spilled air freshener damaging upholstery and allergic reactions. By “aggressively”, I mean that they say things like, “You'd have to be really stupid… BBW is not responsible for your stupidity.” OK first, not all outlets are upright. So a leaking air freshener is a design flaw that probably isn't hard to fix. All you really have to do is design something that you can rotate with a little click whenever you plug it into a sideways outlet. Second, I don't know that much about air fresheners but I wouldn't expect an innocuous, chubby owl-shaped thing to contain substances that will burn through all the things except said container. Third, nobody except people who break out over every little thing expects to develop angry rashes in reaction to a product that is supposed to be designed for their skin. Who in their right mind would get tested for allergies just so that they could buy a $911 product?

I guess the big hint that Bath and Body Works iswas in the fragrance business and NOT the bath and body business should have been the fact that they don't offer choices that a real company would offer. Where other companies label their products things like “For dry skin”, “For oily skin”, “For damaged hair”, “hypoallergenic”, BBW just reissues everything with shea butter.

They're not a BAD company. They're getting there, what with watering down the products and raising prices, but they don't develop bad hand cream for the lulz. They're simply in the fragrance business and instead of trying to find someone to pay them for their fragrances, they package them themselves into bath and body products. They're very good at selling, too. Much to my annoyance. (Good grief, how much shower gel do people think I need?)

It has been a while since I first issued my ban on BBW presents. I just started thinking about it today because I have these nasty hives due to a body wash product—not a BBW product as it's their hand cream that gave me a rash—which reminded me of said hand cream, which reminded me of all the complaints I (and, obviously, other people) have about BBW.

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