Johnson & Johnson has pledged that, by the end of 2015, formaldehyde and other potentially harmful chemicals will be removed from its products including brands like Neutrogena, Aveeno and Clean & Clear. The company had already pledged to remove two potentially cancer-causing chemicals from baby products (including its well-known baby shampoo) by the end of 2013.
Yes, unbeknownst to most, a number of popular shampoos and lotions (including those marketed for use for children) contain 1,4 dioxane and formaldehyde.
- 1,4 dioxane is created in the course of a process that makes products softer on the skin and has been linked to cancer in animals.
- Formaldehyde has been identified as a carcinogen; it is not listed on labels but is released over time by two common preservatives, quaternium-15 and DMDM hydantoin, that are.
Johnson & Johnson also announced plans to phase out other ingredients that have been linked to health risks: phthalates, a number of ingredients used to create fragrances, triclosan (an antibacterial substance used in soaps) and parabens, a type of preservative.
Will Other Companies Make Johnson & Johnson’s Pledge?
Johnson & Johnson is the first major company to make such a promise, which will involve finding different ingredients that are safe for a number of products, says the New York Times. Products like the company’s “no more tears” baby shampoo” have been around for decades and the reformulated products may not be to people’s likings. No doubt keenly aware of a public relations disaster after “serious recalls and quality lapses” in past years, Johnson & Johnson has set up a new website that seeks to go into detail to explain its “five-level safety assurance process.”
Consumer groups including the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics noted that they will continue to put the heat on other cosmetic companies including Estée Lauder Companies, Procter & Gamble, Avon and L’Oreal to reformulate products.
Myths About Cosmetic Safety
Myth – If it’s for sale at a supermarket, drugstore, or department store cosmetics counter, it must be safe.
Fact – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has no authority to require companies to test products for safety.
Myth – Cosmetic ingredients are applied to the skin and rarely get into the body. When they do, levels are too low to matter.
Fact – People are exposed by breathing in sprays and powders, swallowing chemicals on the lips or hands or absorbing them through the skin.
Myth – Products made for children or bearing claims like “hypoallergenic” are safer choices.
Fact – Most cosmetic marketing claims are unregulated, and companies are rarely if ever required to back them up, even for children’s products.
In particular, the EWA underscores that the FDA has “no authority to require recalls of harmful cosmetics.” It’s up to consumers, to us, to read labels, educate ourselves and ask questions about the products we use everyday and that we might not want to after we know what’s really in them.
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