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Post by BCPP Marketing & Communications Manager, Erika Wilhelm

Grab a beauty product of yours, flip it around, and look at the label. Most likely you will see “fragrance” or “parfum.” Did you know that dozens, sometimes even hundreds, of chemicals can hide under that one little word on beauty, personal care products, and cleaning products? And that scent could lead to serious health consequences.

That’s why we at Breast Cancer Prevention Partners tested 32 of the most popular products from around the country to find out what exactly is hiding in these products.

Our new report Right to Know: Exposing Toxic Fragrance Chemicals in Beauty, Personal Care and Cleaning Products exposes the real and honest extent of this problem. And lays the groundwork to change this dirty game. Check out some of the most jaw dropping findings:


We found a total of 338 SECRET fragrance chemicals in the 25 personal care products we tested.


An overwhelming majority (three-quarters) of the chemicals linked to chronic health effects, like cancer, birth defects, respiratory harm, neurotoxicity, hormone disruption, or aquatic toxicity, detected in the products we tested are fragrance chemicals.

It may be a fam fave.

Four of the fine fragrances we tested landed on our Top 10 Hazardous Products List: JLO Glow, Marc Jacobs Daisy, Taylor Swift Wonderstruck and the classic, White Linen by Estée Lauder.

The worst of the worst.

The product with the highest number of chemicals linked to chronic health effects is a kids’ shampoo, Just for Me, marketed to African-American girls in a hair relaxer kit. We found 4 carcinogens, 19 potential hormone-disrupting compounds, and 6 chemicals linked to reproductive and developmental toxicity.

Links to breast cancer.

We found several products with chemicals linked to breast cancer, such as benzene and 1,4-dioxane, which are associated with mammary tumors in laboratory studies. We also found a number of hormone-disrupting compounds with links to breast cancer: oxybenzone, propylparaben, and phthalates (DEHP and DEP).

Big takeaway:

Many of the personal care products we tested contained more hazardous chemicals than the cleaning products we tested! How can this be? A gaping federal loophole allows this $70 billion unregulated fragrance industry to keep these harmful chemicals secret. We say, no more!

That’s why we are supporting two bills that could change the game.

California bill:

The California Cosmetic Fragrance and Flavor Ingredient Right to Know Act of 2019 (SB574) would require companies that sell beauty or personal care products in California to report fragrance or flavor ingredients linked to harm to human health or the environment to the California Safe Cosmetics Program Database. SB574 would be the first law of its kind in the nation.

The time is now, to urge your CA legislator to support the ONLY bill in the nation that will reveal the harmful chemicals hiding in fragrance and flavor ingredients.

Federal bill:

The brand new bill introduced by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (Democrat-IL) would ban chemicals linked to cancer and birth defects from retail and professional salon products. Unlike other bills, the Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act of 2018 is the only federal cosmetic safety legislation that would end secret ingredients by requiring full fragrance ingredient disclosure.

Take action! Pass the Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act of 2018.

We all have a right to know what is hiding in the products that we use at home and work. No more secret toxic fragrance chemicals.

Let’s do this together.

Erika Wilhelm

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