Are inconsistent cosmetic formulas acceptable?

I have been buying my supplies of Baby Bee Shampoo and Wash for my boy from Sephora all this while. The size I used to buy was the 236ml one. However, about two months back, they brought in the 350m size instead. I purchased that, assuming it’s the same formula, but the smell was vastly different upon usage. It smelled a little like the dog shampoo I used to bathe my dog in! Then recently, I headed back to replenish my stock and now, they only have the 236ml bottles and thank goodness they smell familiar again!

Of course I wasn’t happy with the 360ml purchase but it was too much trouble for me to bring it back to the store. In the end, I just stuck with it and used it up since it was just the smell I wasn’t happy with although I was wondering if they’ve missed out anything or added something else in that bottle. While I do know that the smell and color of products sometimes differ, but this one was too different! Moreover, I don’t think Burt’s Bees products are made by hand and was surprised by the inconsistency in the formula although I did notice that the smaller bottle stated that it’s 96.08% natural and the number is different from the bigger bottle. Anyway, I ran a quick check up their website and no where did they state they hand make their products or that their product consistency may differ from batch to batch. But I’ve used some handmade cosmetics and they’re always pretty consistent in terms of smell and texture.

This kind of reminds me of what I often read whenever I purchase handmade jewelry online – that each piece is unique and the designs may differ slightly since they’re handcrafted. Just that this isn’t handmade jewelry but cosmetics. So I wonder if any of you have experienced something similar and if inconsistent cosmetic formula is something acceptable to you. Personally, I would mind if the smell and color is greatly different from the original, particularly if it’s a facial product. If the ingredients are all the same and there are no indications that the formula has been revised, I would really have doubts on the quality of the manufacturing process. I know for a fact that you can be precise in terms of the formulation so this is not something I can accept. A variation of 10 percent is understandable but anything more will send me wondering if they’ve changed the ingredients or forgotten something. And honestly, I won’t compare the ingredient lists since it’s basically the same product.


  1. domncroxd says:

    Hi there! Personally I’d be a little concerned if the formula is inconsistent, especially if it’s for big-name commercial brands like Burt’s Bees, as you highlighted. I agree with you that Burt’s may not be hand-made as claimed. I guess we just need to be careful and as long as there are no side effects, you can continue using it : ).

  2. Paris B says:

    Happened to me with shampoo. I was using Redken All Soft and it always had a comforting soft almondy smell. Then I got one bottle that smelt like it was dipped into a vat of chemicals. Put me off so much I stopped using the brand ? And Redken is hardly natural, handmade or organic! ? So I’d say not acceptable.

  3. Jol says:

    Hmm I’ve encountered this with nail lacquer though. It’s the same brand and same color number/name, however, the tone turns out rather different from the previous batch! I was told that color varies slightly for different batches. :p

  4. AtelierGal says:

    Interesting point! I should go smell Milo’s shampoo lol

    Have you tried the Mane & Tail shampoo? It realy makes my hair D-R-Y!!!

  5. sesame says:

    No, never tried. the Mane & Tail sounds like a horse shampoo to me. ?

  6. sesame says:

    If it’s a well known brand, that’s not acceptable to me if I can tell the difference. They are supposed to be the same.

  7. sesame says:

    Shampoo too? Redken has changed their names but the formulation remains for the one I was using. But if it smells bad, it probably is.

  8. sesame says:

    Yup…I was thinking of not buying it if it smells weird. I didn’t check the smell the last time cos I just assume it’s the same, except in a bigger bottle.

  9. AtelierGal says:

    it is a Horse shampoo lol

    But I’ve heard others having thicker hair after using it. I already have thick hair T-T

  10. loveless says:

    I bought the 360ml bottle from a local store, not Sephora, and the label design is the same as your 236ml bottle.
    Your 360ml shows a new design and with a different natural %, which leads me to think that maybe Burt’s Bee changed their formulation and updated something.
    The 236 ml bottle may be from an older stock and bigger bottles may only come in new stock, since Sephora didn’t bring them in before.
    The 236ml bottle and 360ml I used were the same with no difference in smell at all.

    Maybe you got a bad bottle. I really hope they didn’t change their formula. If they did. I’m going to have to stock up. Perhaps you can take a closer look and compare the labels and ingredients list and see if anything’s changed.

  11. Soos says:

    I remember ordering Burt’s Bees lip balms by mail from Maine. This was at least ten years ago. I have not bought any in maybe five years. In 2007, Clorox bought them out. Just saying…

  12. zhenling says:

    not acceptable to me!
    as someone with rather sensitive skin, it will be like trying new skincare with each new bottle!

  13. sesame says:

    I understand…I’ll be worried too especially if it’s used for the face.

  14. sesame says:

    Hmm…that’s something to mull over. I’ve forgotten all about the acquisition.

  15. sesame says:

    I noticed the difference in % but I would imagine they should be the same formula. Moreover you didn’t experience any changes with the smell for yours…I guess it was just mine. But I’ll make sure to make the big bottle if I come across it again.

    Btw, you’re better off wearing FitFlops. I finally wore my new Skechers a few times and cos the straps are loose, they’re not so comfortable for long distance walking. The toes will get sore after awhile…

  16. sesame says:

    Thicker hair? Sounds like something for me! I’ll take a look next time.

  17. loveless says:

    FYI, my 360ml bottle was of the 96.08% batch, not the new batches of 98.03%. From what I see from the websites around, there are the 96.08% “version” and the 98.03% versions around. The 98.03% seems to be the current version, but a lot of the online stores are still using the pics of the 96.03% bottles.
    Next time I buy a new bottle, I’ll take the sniff test then.

    Thanks for the update on the Tone-ups.
    I guess I’ll stick to my FitFlops. BTW, the Fitflops came up with more funky designs with backstraps for this year’s summer collection. Take a look at their website. =)

  18. sesame says:

    I didn’t noticed the difference in % till much later when I compared the bottles. Must look carefully next time…

    Oh, didn’t know that they have new designs. Will check it up. Thanks for letting me know!

  19. loveless says:

    went past sephora today and compared the bottles today.
    Yes, it seems tt Burt’s Bees tweaked the formula sometime back, and there are differences in ingredients and fragrances. The newer 98.03% have a shorter and simpler ingredient list. I don’t quite like the new smell but I’m willing to give it a try. Good news is that Sephora still carries the older stock of 96.08% in the smaller bottles. I’ll keep buying those until they run out, then I’ll try the new version.

  20. sesame says:

    The smell is very off – at least mine did. Actually when I bought it, I didn’t realized the ingredient difference cos I had no old bottles to check. So next time I’m going to rely on the smell.

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