This is the second post in a series of deep dives we’re doing on ingredients in Icy Hot vs Biofreeze vs Bengay … the major brands pain relief topicals. Our first breakdown took a look at Icy Hot which shares ingredients with the guts of diapers, among other things. Today, we’re checking out Biofreeze ingredients. As the jersey sponsor of our beloved Portland Trail Blazers we hate to hate on em, and we know it works, but you gotta get the scoop. If you’re looking for more of a comparison of products, hit our BioFreeze vs Icy Hot page.

If you haven’t seen our previous post, you need some background info on ingredients for these types of products. The FDA requires ingredients to be listed by predominance – so the most prominent ingredients come first on the list. The FDA also does not allow terms like “pain relieving” unless a product is approved by them as a drug. When you read anywhere about essential oils and other awesome things found in nature and not made in labs, you may have noticed wording like “may relieve pain” or “may reduce inflammation”. That’s why.

Now, let’s jump in.

Biofreeze Ingredients

BioFreeze Ingredients List

Menthol, Camphor, carbomer, FD&C blue #1, FD&C yellow #5, Glycerine, Herbal Extract (ILEX Paraguariensis), Isopropyl Alcohol, Methylparaben, Propylene Glycol, Silicon Dioxide, Triethanolamine

Menthol – Also prominent in Icy Hot, no wonder both brands couldn’t resist putting frosty words in their name. Our product MuscleGoo contains organic menthol crystals, more on that later..

Camphor – Typically used to relieve pain and reduce itching. Here’s the kicker – it can be made from the bark of camphor tree, or chemically manufactured from turpentine oil. We’re taking bets on which option the big brands use.

Carbomer – White fluffy powder made from a series of polymers of acrylic acid. Used in lots of cosmetics to create a stable gel like consistency.

FD&C blue #1 – A bright blue synthetic die made from petroleum.

FD&C yellow #5 – A bright yellow synthetic die made from nitrous, yellow #5 has been shown to transform into aromatic amine sulfanilic acid in the digestive track, causing mutagenesis and carcinogenesis. I’m not a scientist but I don’t like the sound of that.

Glycerine – A sugar alcohol that is used as a solvent, emollient, pharmaceutical agent, or sweetening agent.

Herbal Extract (ILEX Paraguariensis) – This is literally yerba mate. Not the drink, the plant. Touche.

Isopropyl Alcohol – Good ol fashion rubbing alcohol.

Methylparaben – A paraben often used to increase shelf life and prevent the growth of mold and bacteria. Especially useful when your product will spend months and years of its life in sitting warehouses and on the back of the shelf at Walmart.

Propylene glycol – According to the FDA, propylene glycol is generally recognized as safe and is used as a solvent in paints and plastics, as well as for artificial fog and smoke.

Silicon Dioxide – Found naturally in tons of the food we eat, seems like a good guy.

Triethanolamine – Used as a pH balancer in lots of cosmetics, in some ear(?) medications, and also in developing photos and ultrasounds.

Summary of BioFreeze Ingredients

After reviewing ingredient lists for both Icy Hot and Biofreeze, I’d without a doubt pick Biofreeze for my daily FD&C yellow #5 intake regimen. On a serious note, there are much less eyebrow raising ingredients in this product than Icy Hot. It’s also endorsed by Damian Lillard so I’m not mad.

For all sources, a overview comparison of several other big brand pain relief topicals, and deep dives into Icy Hot Ingredients, Bengay ingredients and more, click below:


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