Johnson & Johnson, manufacturers of anti-wrinkle lotion and baby shampoo alike, has announced that it will phase out several questionable ingredients from its products by the end of 2015. Johnson & Johnson brands like Neutrogena and Aveeno can be found in drugstores around the world, so this could be a significant step forward, especially considering that it is the first major company to take this approach.
The ingredients they’re axing include formaldehyde, phthalates, and triclosan; they will also be further limiting the levels of 1,4 dioxane and parabens in their products.
According to the New York Times, two of the questionable ingredients, formaldehyde and 1,4 dioxane, had never been listed on the products’ lists of ingredients, because they were not technically considered ingredients: formaldehyde was released over time by two other ingredients, while 1,4 dioxane was used only on other ingredients, in order to make them gentler to the skin.
These changes follow years of pressure and research from environmental and consumer groups, such as the Environmental Working Group’s Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. Susan Nettesheim, Johnson & Johnson’s vice president of product stewardship and toxicology, described the company’s rationale for the changes: “There’s a very lively public discussion going on about the safety of ingredients in personal care products. It was really important that we had a voice in that.”
While this seems to be good news, it may lead many consumers to wonder: wait a minute, what else is in my personal care products?
If you’d like to double-check what ingredients might be lurking in your products (yes, even those labeled as “natural”), EWG’s Cosmetics Database lets you search for product names, brands, and ingredients, and assigns them a Hazard Score from 0 (low hazard) to 10 (high hazard). Be informed!