One Off-Label Use Clorox Wants to Stop: Bleach Facials

Stanford Researchers See Possible Skincare Breakthrough; Company Doesn't

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Marketers usually like finding new "usage occasions" for old brands. And Clorox Co. already has shown interest in skincare, what with its 2007 acquisition of Burt's Bees. Yet the company wants nothing to do with a new idea making the rounds in social and traditional media -- using bleach for facials.

Stanford sees potential skincare breakthrough.
Stanford sees potential skincare breakthrough.

Believe it or not, there's scientific basis for this. Researchers at Stanford University, not far from Oakland, Calif.-based Clorox, published research in November on how diluted bleach baths could treat skin damage on mice that had been irradiated. Animal-rights activists no doubt are wondering why it was necessary to irradiate mice so they could be bathed in bleach. But the researchers also found highly diluted bleach baths made the skin of regular non-irradiated elderly mice look younger. Now, the Stanford researchers are considering human trials.

Keep in mind this is highly diluted bleach – 0.005%. But the implications are obvious, and cheaper than any skincare product currently on the market.

Once news of this began spreading on internet forums and then in news coverage earlier this month, Clorox decided it was time to weigh in with a release noting that it "continues to advise consumers to use Clorox bleach only as directed on the label." A spokeswoman declined to comment further.

The label talks about laundry and disinfecting hard surfaces and in fact advises you rinse immediately for 15 to 20 minutes with plenty of water if skin comes into contact with Clorox bleach.

It's a far cry from the days when rival disenfectant Lysol was intentionally advertised as a feminine product for "marriage hygiene" (well before current owners at Reckitt Benckiser took over).

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