A cosmetics industry movement toward greater fragrance ingredient transparency enables shoppers to make better informed, healthier choices. Read More
Post by BCPP Director of Program & Policy, Janet Nudelman
Smart Companies Practice Ingredient Transparency for Health-Conscious Customers
Over the past decade, in response to consumer and worker demands for ingredient transparency, we’ve seen more and more cosmetic companies – large and small – adopt fragrance ingredient disclosure policies.
For years, many dozens of small to medium size “safe cosmetics companies” have been voluntarily disclosing their fragrance ingredients including California Baby, Intelligent Nutrients, Aubrey Organics, EO Products, Herban Lifestyle, Honeybee Gardens, Intelligent Nutrients, Iredale Mineral Cosmetics Juice Beauty, Osea International, ThinkBaby, True Botanicals, W.S. Badger Company, and Beautycounter.
Notably, in February 2017, Unilever became the first multinational to announce it would voluntarily disclose fragrance ingredients in their entire U.S. and EU portfolio of personal care and cleaning products down to 100 ppm (0.01%). We like that Unilever has provided multiple ways for consumers to access fragrance ingredient information: through their brand websites or by scanning a QR code that appears on the product label, both of which link to the SmartLabel™ program. Procter & Gamble followed suit six months later announcing an almost identical fragrance ingredient disclosure policy. An important aspect of P&G’s policy is that they include a “red list” of fragrance ingredients on their website they will not to use in their products.
Unilever is the 2nd largest cosmetic company in the world and P&G is the largest consumer products company in the world, which suggests that companies are finally responding to calls from consumers and workers for product ingredient transparency. Companies cite that disclosing in-depth product and ingredient information for home, beauty, and personal care shoppers builds brand trust. Providing full product information helps shoppers to assess product ingredients based on health concerns and make informed purchasing decisions.
Unilever SmartLabel™ updates are due to be complete by the end of 2018 and they have publicly reported they are on track to meet that goal. By 2019, P&G pledged to begin disclosing the “secret” fragrance ingredients in over 2000 of its beauty, fabric, home and feminine hygiene products in the U.S. and Canada. According to P&G, after they meet their initial 2019 goal, they will expand into other product categories and into the other 180 countries where they do business.
Johnson & Johnson joins the race
The newest multinational cosmetics company to join the fragrance ingredient disclosure race to the top is Johnson & Johnson, the world’s 8th largest cosmetic company. On July 5th, J&J announced it would provide on-line disclosure of fragrance ingredients present in their baby products at concentrations of 100 ppm (0.01 percent) or greater. The transparency effort was rolled out as part of a relaunch of J&J’s baby care line on August 1, 2018, less than a month after its fragrance ingredient disclosure policy was publicly announced.
J&J also wins points for the extensive global scope of its fragrance disclosure initiative – compared to its competitors – which covers J&J products sold in the US, China, Canada, and India. We also like the fact that J&J discloses fragrance ingredients online through product webpages, given that’s where many consumers go to find ingredient information, in addition to the SmartLabel™ program. Like P&G, J&J also discloses online the fragrance palette it uses for its baby products. In addition, all three of these fragrance ingredient disclosure leaders are voluntarily labelling fragrance allergens according to EU standards.
On the flip side, however, J&J needs to catch up to Unilever and P&G by committing to disclose fragrance ingredients for its adult product lines as well. And all three of these multinational giants should announce a timeline and benchmarks for expanding their fragrance ingredient disclosure initiatives to the rest of the global markets where they do business.
Kudos to Unilever and P&G and J&J for paving the way for fragrance ingredient disclosure in personal care and beauty products. Despite their massive size, and the considerable number of brands these three companies represent, their fragrance disclosure policies include specifics regarding where, how, and when they will begin disclosing fragrance ingredients.
L’Oréal’s vague and uninspired fragrance announcement
In contrast, it’s hard to get excited about L’Oréal announcement that it too would begin disclosing fragrance ingredients given its lack of specificity.
L’Oréal, the world’s largest cosmetic company, announced in June 2018 that it would begin disclosing the secret fragrance ingredients in its beauty products. Said a L’Oréal spokesperson in a June 7, 2018 article in Chemical Watch:
We would like to take this opportunity to state our future goal of communicating to a larger extent the composition of our perfumes in all our products, in a way that meets the expectations of our consumers and ensures their safety while at the same time fully respecting the know-how of our perfume creators and protecting us from the major risks of fine fragrance counterfeiting.
Unlike its competitors, and true to form for L’Oréal, the multinational giant’s announcement lacked specifics as to where, when, and how that disclosure would take place. While it’s great to hear major multinationals using the word ‘transparency,’ we’re not holding our breath for full fragrance ingredient transparency any time soon given L’Oréal’s lengthy track record of vague and unfulfilled promises.
A decade of advocacy
L’Oréal’s fragrance disclosure announcement comes after a decade of advocacy by BCPP and our Campaign for Safe Cosmetics urging L’Oréal to adopt a company-wide fragrance ingredient disclosure policy.
In July 2017, representatives from BCPP’s Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and U.S. PIRG visited the L’Oréal headquarters in New York to deliver over 150,000 petition signatures gathered by our coalitions as well as MomsRising, Credo and Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families demanding the company remove dangerous chemicals and fully disclose fragrance chemicals. Yet despite the tens of thousands of letters and the hundreds of thousands of petition signatures it has received over the years supporting these demands, L’Oréal continues to lag behind its competitors.
Secret fragrance ingredients & why we need labeling
The terms “fragrance” or “parfum” on the label of a shampoo, body lotion, deodorant, lipstick or fine fragrance can hide dozens – even hundreds – of chemicals that companies are not required to disclose. This is a problem for consumers because a large and growing body of scientific evidence has linked common fragrance chemicals to cancer, endocrine disruption, asthma and other health concerns as well as water and air pollution.
Fragrance is big business in the U.S. and abroad. In 2017, the global fragrance market was nearly $70 billion and by 2024, the global fragrance market is estimated to be worth about 92 billion U.S. dollars. (Statista) However, despite the vast and growing size of the fragrance industry, there’s no one minding the store. The fragrance industry is entirely self-regulated with no federal or state guidelines of any kind dictating the safety of fragrance chemicals nor the disclosure of fragrance ingredients to manufacturers, regulatory agencies or consumers. Which is why more and more environmental health organizations like ours and more and more consumers are calling for full fragrance ingredient disclosure – so they can make safer, more informed purchases.
Calling for transparency we can believe in
In addition to L’Oréal’s vagueness on the new fragrance ingredient policy, the company has a disappointing track record of not making good on its promises. That’s why the vague nature of their most recent announcement generated some heartache for us here at the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.
We wish we could applaud L’Oréal for taking this step toward fragrance ingredient disclosure, but first we need more information because, ironically, their fragrance transparency policy lacks transparency. To win the public’s trust, L’Oréal should disclose:
- Which L’Oréal products and brands will be covered by this announcement;
- What they plan to disclose;
- Where disclosure will take place;
- When L’Oréal fragrance ingredient disclosure will take place;
- And, most critical of all – how the public will be informed about their progress.
We will hold our applause until we hear more and invite you to do the same.
Raise the bar: voluntary fragrance ingredient disclosure initiatives
In an ideal world, our federal law would require full ingredient transparency—including fragrance chemicals — in personal care, cosmetic and cleaning products, so that everyone could assess product information to bring safer products into their homes and their workplaces.
Instead, lobbying by industry trade associations and big multinational cosmetic companies has consistently blocked efforts to federally require full ingredient disclosure in cleaning products and personal care products. These trade associations have not kept pace with industry transparency best practices and instead cater to their membership’s lowest common denominator.
While consumers and workers wait for congress to get around to adopting meaningful, federal cosmetic safety legislation, we call on the $84 billion cosmetic industry to do a better job of self-regulating the safety of the fragrance chemicals they use. Disclosure is the first step to getting there. BCPP and our Campaign for Safe Cosmetics challenge cosmetic companies to meet our fragrance ingredient challenge.
This is what full fragrance ingredient disclosure looks like:
- Companies disclosure all intentionally added fragrance ingredients, regardless of concentration, to consumers.
- We know fragrance chemicals can be present in a fragrance at much lower levels than 100 ppm, the current industry “high bar” for fragrance disclosure. This is especially important for endocrine-disrupting compounds that can harm human health at extremely low levels of exposure.
- Product manufacturers require full fragrance ingredient disclosure – and safety data – from their fragrance suppliers.
- Disclosure occurs throughout a company’s entire product portfolio, including both retail products, professional-use products, and the global market. Fragrance ingredients are listed on brand websites.
- Online retail sites such as Drugstore.com and Amazon.com disclose all fragrance ingredients for the company’s products sold there.
- Manufacturers utilize a restricted substances list (RSL) of fragrance chemicals of concern (aka as a “red list” or “do not use”) list or provide that RSL to their fragrance supplier or independent perfumer to ensure that the chemicals used to formulate their fragrances are safe for human health.
Check out our action center for ways you can get involved to tell companies and our elected officials that we deserve safer ingredients and full ingredient transparency.
Victory! Thanks to you Lowe’s will stop selling deadly paint strippers. By raising your voice, you made this huge consumer health victory happen.Read More
Lowe’s announced they will stop selling paint strippers with dangerous methylene chloride. You did this. Thank you for your support!
BCPP supporters who took action on our site contributed to the 200,000 petitions delivered to Lowe’s in coordination with our campaign partners at Mind the Store. By raising your voice, you made this huge consumer health victory happen.
Methylene chloride, a hazardous chemical, has killed at least 50 people in the U.S. after their use of paint strippers. It is linked to neurotoxicity, liver toxicity, and numerous cancers.
Collectively we’ve shown that coordinated pressure on big companies wins major health victories that will reduce exposure to chemicals linked to breast cancer and other diseases. Mobilizing voices and consumer dollars changes the market for toxic chemicals in favor of safer products.
This strategy to push the market toward safer products is critical given the U.S. government standstill over chemical regulation. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed banning methylene chloride back in 2017, but following pressure from the chemical industry, EPA leadership delayed the proposed bans until further notice.
With our federal government asleep at the wheel, we will move the market towards safer alternatives through organized consumer pressure.
This announcement from Lowe’s shows that safer alternatives are both possible and profitable. Other retailers and manufacturers will follow suit or face mounting public pressure. Ultimately, the pressure on government to act will become unstoppable.
On to Home Depot!
It was the middle of June, and I found myself surrounded by snow. My body fought for oxygen as I propelled myself, one crunchy footstep at a time, toward the 14,179 foot peak.Read More
Guest Post by 2017 Climb Against the Odds climber, Amy
It was the middle of June, and I found myself surrounded by snow. My body fought for oxygen as I propelled myself, one crunchy footstep at a time, toward the 14,179 foot peak. Summiting Mt. Shasta was not only a physical achievement, but something that just five years ago would have been totally impossible for me.
In 2012 I was in the prime of my life. I was living a healthy and active lifestyle, having completed four marathons (including Boston), eight half marathons and numerous sporting events. The discovery of a lump in my breast and my diagnosis with stage one cancer was a complete shock. I struggled to find a cause for my cancer. I lived a more than healthy lifestyle, never smoked, and had no family history of the disease.
The years after my diagnosis proved to be humbling. After seven surgeries, a year of chemotherapy, a year without hair, and five years of cancer meds, I could finally pronounce myself cancer free! In 2017 I celebrated five years of survival without the disease. After all this, it was time to do something momentous and inspiring as a capstone to my battle with cancer.
In 2017 I joined a team of men and women committed to preventing breast cancer in Breast Cancer Prevention Partners’ Climb Against the Odds. Our group committed to climbing Mt. Shasta and collectively raised over $100,000 for BCPP, an organization that works to prevent breast cancer by eliminating our exposure to toxic chemicals and radiation. Having never been a hiker, the training schedule seemed daunting and the fund-raising seemed challenging (how could I possibly raise that amount?), but I was determined to stick to my goals.
I was astonished by the generosity of my donors. Fundraising was relatively easy with help from BCPP’s website and staff, and ideas shared by the hiking team. The training opened a world of hiking locations I would have never otherwise visited, and the benefits of cross-training brought on a new sense of self-confidence. I also discovered a connection to the outdoors I’d long forgotten.
For me reaching my personal summit was epic, but it was the stories, comradery and friendships that I experienced during the climb that will stay with me forever. As climbers, each of us were given the opportunity to bring prayer flags to the summit in honor of a loved one who has been touched by cancer. As the team I had grown so fond of descended the mountain, we stopped in a wooded clearing, held hands and shared stories of the special person that represented each flag. It was a moment I’ll hold closely in my heart forever. I was overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude and exuberance for life, knowing full well, that just five years ago, someone else could have been climbing this mountain sharing their story about me.
Climbing Shasta was surely a physical and mental feat, but what I bring with me down the mountain and through my life everyday is the ability to carry on where others can’t, and share my story so others will not have to suffer as I did. Breast Cancer Prevention Partners is doing this important work every day, and as I transition into survivorship, I’m highly motivated to align myself with their mission of awareness and prevention.
Climb Against the Odds is looking for our next team of climbers!
Check out the full itinerary this year and our learn about past climbs through our interactive map journal! Email email@example.com with any questions.
Use and apply one of our top tips to reduce your breast cancer risk. This week we will be posting ideas for your 2018 goals!
How about this for a New Year’s resolution? Be Safer.
Use and apply one of our top tips to reduce your breast cancer risk. We at BCPP want to help you make simple changes to protect your health and wellness. Join us in creating a healthier world by protecting our families, our communities and future generations from toxic harm. This week we will be posting ideas for your 2018 goals!
Safer Cosmetics & Beauty Products
The word fragrance is a cocktail of ingredients and may include dozens or more potentially harmful chemicals, and can be found in nearly half of all personal care products. Fragrance on a product label can mask countless carcinogens and hormone disrupting chemicals. Avoid purchasing and using products with the word fragrance or parfum on the label. Be especially vigilant on children’s products.
Safer Cosmetics & Beauty Products
Use online tools and official seals to find safer products
Ditch your old daily routine and replace it with safer cosmetics and personal care products. Apps and websites like ThinkDirty, EWG’s Skin Deep, and the Good Guide will rate your personal care products for safety and toxicity and MADE SAFE,® is helping to make it easier to find safer products by labeling them with a special seal. Visit them often and stay up-to-date.
Safer Food Products
Include soy, but don’t overdo it
Natural plant-based estrogens in soy may provide healthy benefits in low doses, but may be a risk factor for breast cancer in higher doses. Include tofu and tempeh as part of your regular diet, but stay away from concentrated or isolated forms of soy derivatives, including genistein pills.
Safer Cleaning Products
Clean more naturally
Use baking soda to neutralize odors and soak up dampness, and vinegar to clean and deodorize. Add a cup of vinegar to your laundry to brighten up whites, remove odors, and lift tougher grime off fabrics. Add a few drops of your favorite citrus juice (think lemons, limes, oranges) or essential oils (try lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus) to a vinegar-based cleaning spray to fill your home with a fresh scent of your choice. Green your space with plants to clean the air you breathe. Vacuum with a HEPA filter to reduce sending chemicals into the air, and then your lungs.
Safer Cleaning Products
If you don’t know what’s in it, don’t use it
Labeling loopholes allow companies to avoid disclosing ingredients on cleaning product labels. Some cleaning product labels contain incomplete or misleading ingredient lists, so don’t be fooled by a short ingredient list. Only buy and use cleaning products which disclose all ingredients on the product label to avoid possible exposure to harmful chemicals.
Safer Workplace Health
Wash your hands
Washing your hands kills germs and reduces exposures to unsafe chemicals. Many chemicals from everyday products end up in workplace dust. Hand-washing reduces dust on the hands, and as a result reduces exposures to chemicals, like flame retardants. Make sure to use hand soap free of harmful chemicals.
On March 6, 2017 Breast Cancer Fund changed our name to Breast Cancer Prevention Partners (BCPP). A new name. A new look.Read More
On March 6, 2017 Breast Cancer Fund changed our name to Breast Cancer Prevention Partners (BCPP). A new name. A new look. Same unwavering commitment to prevent breast cancer through our work with partners like you.
In talking with you and others like you we found a common view that Breast Cancer Fund, as a name, was not differentiating enough. Nor did it telegraph who we are and what we are about. Which is prevention.
So we changed our name but not our mission, our commitment to our partners, or our work.
We remain the leading science-based policy and advocacy organization working to prevent breast cancer by eliminating our exposure to toxic chemicals and radiation. Our focus is on the intersection of breast cancer prevention and environmental health. That work continues and thrives.
For almost 25 years we’ve been a part of so many important victories with you at our side. Looking ahead our work is more important than ever before. There is so much more to do.
To that end we also introduced a new interactive website under our new name. It is educational, engaging and provide many ways for you to get involved with breast cancer prevention.
We are extremely excited about our name change and look forward to writing our next chapter together.
No Estrogenic Activity Found in Tests of New Replacement for BPA in Food Can Linings
No Estrogenic Activity Found in Tests of New Replacement for BPA in Food Can Linings
By Janet Nudelman, MA and Sharima Rasanayagam, PhD
What is the problem?
Bisphenol A (BPA) is an endocrine disrupting chemical used in the lining of many food and beverage cans. Studies have shown that BPA can leach from the lining of cans into the food and then into people. Growing consumer concern over BPA’s health impacts has increased demand for BPA-free products and food packaging. Unfortunately the identity of the replacement chemicals is often not disclosed and the safety of the BPA-alternatives we do know are being used is unknown. For example, BPA in some baby bottles and receipt paper has been replaced by other bisphenols such as BPS and BPAF. Studies have shown that these chemicals are also endocrine disruptors.
What did they do in this study?
Scientists from Tufts University School of Medicine worked with the can lining manufacturer Valspar to independently test Valspar’s new can lining material for estrogenic activity. They looked at both the final material and the “monomer” used to create it. They also assessed if the material could leach into foodstuffs from the final coating polymer. On January 13, 2017, Dr. Ana Soto, the lead author, published their findings in Environmental Science & Technology in a paper entitled: “Evidence of Absence: Estrogenicity Asessment of a New Food-Contact Coating and the Bisphenol Used in its Synthesis.”
What did they find?
The material (TMBPF) did not show estrogenic activity in the assays they used – not in receptor binding assays, cell studies or whole animal studies – there was no effect on uterus weight in females, puberty in male or female rats or mammary gland development in female rats. When they looked for leaching from the final coating, they could not detect any migration with a 0.2 parts per billion detection limit. As the researchers conclude, “their findings provide compelling evidence for the absence of EA by TMBPF and the polymeric coating derived from it, and that human exposure to TMBPF would be negligible.”
THE BACKSTORY ON BPA IN FOOD CAN LININGS
Why do we care?
Breast Cancer Prevention Partners (BCPP) is no stranger to spearheading campaigns that grow consumer demand for non-toxic consumer products in order to grow the marketplace of safer products. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a project of BCPP, has proven that as consumers learn more about the toxic chemicals they are being exposed to in everyday items, the potential health impacts and the lack of federal oversight, they “vote” with their pocketbooks, demanding safer personal care products for themselves and their families. And the market listens. Today, the safe/natural sector of the multi-billion dollar cosmetics industry is $19 billion and growing.
Another success story that illustrates the ability of consumers to move markets was the industry exodus away from the use of bisphenol A (BPA) in baby bottles, sippy cups, sports water bottles and canned infant formula. This market flight was fueled by public outrage over the widespread use of BPA in food packaging despite a growing number of scientific studies linking exquisitely small amounts of BPA exposure to a staggering number of health problems including breast and prostate cancer, asthma, obesity, behavioral changes (including attention deficit disorder), altered development of the brain and immune system, low birth weight and lowered sperm counts.
In all, five U.S. cities and counties, 13 states and ultimately the FDA banned BPA from baby bottles, sippy cups and infant formula cans. But with this important consumer victory – and flexing of consumer muscle – came a sobering wake-up call to a troubling phenomenon called “regrettable substitution” – the replacement of one toxic chemical with an equally or more toxic alternative.
In the case of BPA in baby bottles, “regrettable substitution” was not just a theoretical construct — it turned out to be a real-life problem. An assessment, published March 2011 in Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP), of more than 500 commercially available plastic products labeled BPA-free, found many to be leaching endocrine-disrupting chemicals that in some cases were more estrogen active (EA) than BPA-containing plastics.[i]
That same year, BCPP launched our Cans Not Cancer Campaign, designed to generate the public will necessary to similarly drive BPA out of the lining of canned foods with a parallel goal of increasing consumer demand for safer alternatives. The battle cry for informed substitution was further fueled when three years later, in a follow-up study published in May 2014, the same researchers tested 50 BPA-free products and found similar results, warning “BPA-Free did not mean EA-Free.” [ii] Our new mantra became: consumers want BPA-free canned food that is truly safer, not canned food lined with chemicals that are equally or more estrogenic.
For 5 years we knocked on the doors of the world’s biggest multinational canned food manufacturers urging them to stop using BPA to line their food cans and adopt a higher level of transparency regarding the identity and the safety of the BPA alternatives they were using or moving toward. As breast cancer prevention advocates, we petitioned the FDA to ban BPA from food packaging because of its estrogenic properties and links to a host of adverse health effects, we lobbied congress to do the same and we raised public awareness about the new science showing small amounts of endocrine disrupting compounds – like BPA – were being linked to breast cancer and other big health problems. It is important to remember that the little FDA regulation of the food packaging industry that does exists, does not require manufacturers look for and rule out the use of chemicals in food packaging that display estrogenic activity or other endocrine disrupting properties. So as far as we could tell, no one was minding the store in terms of preventing the “next BPA” in food can linings from being just as estrogenic – or more – than BPA is.
And then something amazing happened. A chemical company named Valspar came knocking on our door and said they wanted to talk to us about a new BPA alternative they had developed with the catchy name tetramethyl bisphenol F (TMBPF). They told us that consumer concern with BPA, and its estrogenic properties had created demand for EA-free alternatives and prompted a 5-year journey on their part to meet that demand by inventing the safer BPA alternative that breast cancer prevention advocates and others were asking for.
We had never been visited by a chemical company before and at first we were suspicious. But we were quickly impressed by not only the extensive testing they had conducted – not just for estrogenic activity, but for other types of hormone disruption and other adverse outcomes such as organ toxicity and genotoxicity. We were also impressed by their willingness to share that safety data with us and by the new model for safety substantiation they used in the creation of TMBPF called “Safety by Design.”
Safety by Design is a safety protocol that requires testing for endocrine activity, along with other more traditional toxicological testing hazard endpoints, not because the FDA requires it but because it is a source of public concern. Equally amazing is the Safety by Design commitment to “put (Valspar’s) new coatings to the test in the hands of recognized independent scientists, many of whom previously identified health concerns for the very products we seek to replace.” Thus, the independent safety testing of TMBPF for estrogenic activity by renowned breast cancer scientist – Dr. Ana Soto and the choice of Dr. Maricel Maffini, another renowned scientific expert on breast cancer and a member of our Science Advisory Panel, as a primary consultant on this project.
We applaud the publication of Dr. Soto’s peer-reviewed article which affirms TMBPF is not estrogen-active. Dr. Soto’s paper links to Valspar’s website which provides full reports evaluating potential migration, transactivation, uterotrophic and pubertal assays. Valspar’s level of transparency is also to be applauded. However to be completely confident of the overall safety of this new material, it is important for Valspar to go a step further and make available its safety data related to additional health endpoints and environmental toxicity.
The arrival of TMBPF is exciting to be sure, and deserves the attention of – and close inspection by – the big multinational food giants as well as advocates in the environmental health and justice communities. Also deserving of attention is Valspar’s “Safety by Design” which raises a high bar – and creates a model – for the safety testing of chemicals in food can linings and other product sectors as well. In this time of uncertainty regarding whether the federal government will be the caretaker of public health we need it to be, it is heartening to see Valspar stepping up, and in the process of doing so, challenging other chemical companies to be responsible stewards of public health.
For more information see our report Buyer Beware: Toxic BPA and regrettable substitutes found in the lining of canned food.
[i] Yang, C. Z., Yaniger, S. I., Jordan, V. C., Klein, D. J., & Bittner, G. D. (2011). Most plastic products release estrogenic chemicals: a potential health problem that can be solved. Environmental Health Perspectives, 119(7), 989.
[ii] Bittner, G.D., Yang, C.Z, Stoner, MA. (2014). Estrogenic chemicals often leach from BPA-free plastic products that are replacements for BPA-containing polycarbonate products. Environmental Health, (13):41