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Consumer report finds questionable ingredients in cosmetics

By Michelle Yeomans+

16-Jul-2014
Last updated on 16-Jul-2014 at 16:58 GMT

Consumer report finds questionable ingredients in cosmetics

Consumer Reports 'ShopSmart' says it has found numerous body care products with potentially harmful ingredients, such as coal tar color, triclosan, and formaldehyde releasing chemicals following a year long investigation.

According to ShopSmart, major brands are cashing in on the natural trend by rolling out new products, retooling old ones, and snapping up smaller natural cosmetics companies.

Clorox acquired Burt's Bees, Tom’s of Maine is now owned by Colgate-Palmolive, and The Body Shop is a unit of L’Oréal. 

However, whilst many are catering to shoppers looking for healthier cosmetics, ShopSmart says its' research has uncovered that the problem lies in some changing what’s on the packaging label rather than what's in the formulation.

"Yes, there might be aloe or shea butter added, but there might also be lots of stuff you don’t want. It's no surprise, almost half of shoppers who buy 'natural' or 'organic' personal-care products say it’s hard to tell which brands actually live up to those claims, according to Mintel," the report states.

Questionable ingredients

NARS Duo Eyeshadow, Windstar was found to include triclosan while phthalates were present in Mill Creek Botanicals Hair Spray, Weather Control.

Dove Deep Moisture Nourishing Body Wash was also found to contain DMDM hydantoin and sodium laureth sulfate, which can produce 1,4-dioxane.

When looking for cosmetics, ShopSmart says consumers should not put much weight into the claims “dermatologist tested” or “hypoallergenic” as they aren’t independently verified.

They suggest that the best label to look for in beauty products is USDA Organic or those carrying 'Premium Body Care' seals.

Industry's efforts to live up to natural claims

Needless to say the findings of this research has brought up the age old issue of what exactly constitutes as 'organic' and 'natural' and just how tight regulation is around cosmetics.

However; numerous manufacturers and retailers have been taking steps to reduce or eliminate potentially risky ingredients from their personal care products of late.

P&G has promised to remove triclosan and DEP from its products by year’s end and Avon is also stepping away from using triclosan.

Meanwhile, Johnson & Johnson has removed chemicals such as formaldehyde releasers and phthalates from its personal care range. 

The Personal Care Products Council  has reiterated that cosmetics are safe, citing statistics showing that in 2012, when more than 11 billion cosmetic products were sold in the U.S., there were only 381 adverse reactions.

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