I’ve become accustomed to checking ingredient lists on personal-care products before buying them. But I also keep in mind that not all ingredients are necessarily listed.
The nonprofit Campaign for Safe Cosmetics recently shed light on a couple of unlisted chemicals in several leading children’s bath and body-care products, including Baby Magic “Soft Baby Scent” lotion, Johnson’s Baby Shampoo, and Sesame Street Bubble Bath ("Orange Mango Tango").
The group’s small study found that formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane, both probable carcinogens, were present as byproducts, not ingredients, so they weren’t listed. The health risks of using these products is unclear, as our Safety blog recently reported.
While the science continues to be debated, concerned parents who wish to avoid these ingredient byproducts can avoid the ingredients associated with them.
Ingredients that have been associated with 1,4-dioxane include:
• PEG or polyethylene glycol
Preservative ingredients that may release formaldehyde include:
• Imidazolidinyl urea
• Diazolidinyl urea
Other ingredients of concern, such as phthalates, which may be linked to developmental and reproductive health risks, may also be left off the label for proprietary reasons.
Because phthalates are often a component of synthetic fragrances, the word "fragrance" (or "fragrance/parfum") might indicate they are present. And be aware that even if a product says "unscented" or "fragrance free" on the label, there's no guarantee it's phthalate-free.
To learn about other chemicals with health risks, check out GreenerChoices.org.