There’s Formaldehyde In Baby Shampoo?

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

The Environmental Working Group (EWA) maintains a database about ingredients in personal care products. The group’s eight myths about cosmetic safety are worth a read-through. A few highlights:

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.

Related Care2 Coverage

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Victory! FDA Bans BPA in Baby Bottles, Sippy Cups

Antibacterial Soap Weakens Heart and Muscle Function, Study Says



Photo by bsing


Melissa L.
Melissa L.5 years ago

i actually use shielo's hydrate line of shampoos (which are sulfate free) to wash my hair. It doesnt have any of those harmful ingredients. I used to have the worst hair, and now I ALWAYS get complements when using the shielo shampoo. Worth the price. . .

Amber Beasley
Amber Beasley5 years ago

and this surprises you why?? I use all natural products. anything that goes on my skin is chemical free. and I will NEVER buy baby shampoo that is not all natural when I have a child.

pam w.
pam w5 years ago


Read the labels, people! Buy from BURT'S BEES!

John B.
John B5 years ago

We all must be educated consumers and never take anything for granted regarding the safety of the products we purchase. Thanks Kristina for the info.

Marianne Good
Past Member 5 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

Past Member
Jennifer H5 years ago

They also test on animals

Anna M.
Anna M5 years ago

Chief Seattle, 1854
Humankind has not woven the web of life.
We are but one thread within it.
Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.
All things are bound together.
All things connect.

Cree Prophecy:
When all the trees have been cut down,
When all the animals have been hunted,
When all the waters are polluted,
When all the air is unsafe to breathe,
Only then will you discover
You cannot eat money.

Frans Badenhorst
Frans B5 years ago

thanks... eye-opener...

Danuta Watola
Danuta W5 years ago

Thank you for this article,

Teresa Cowley
Teresa Cowley5 years ago

For one thing, we might think about getting rid of the FDA--they seem to be less than no good at anything other than making themselves money.
For another thing, none of us can afford to be gullible anymore--which means, unfortunately, that we cannot believe businesses claims of honesty, integrity, safety, because they are, too often simply not true.
Businesses exist to get our money for themselves--any way they can.
We must educate ourselves to protect ourselves and our family.