Spot hidden ingredients in personal-care products

By Kristi Wiedemann on May 26, 2009 12:01:00 am

Labels 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 
•    Polyethylene
•    Polyoxyethylene
•    Polyethoxyethylene
•    Polyoxynolethylene

Preservative ingredients that may release formaldehyde include:

•    Quaternium-15
•    2-bromo-2nitropropane-1,3-diol 
•    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

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Kristi Wiedemann

Kristi Wiedemann

Posted at 12:01:00 AM in

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Anton G

02:35:23 PM on Tue May 26 2009

Throw away everything you have from CVS, pharmacies etc.....

Wash self and babies with Dr. Bronner's all-natural oil soaps, use a crystal rock deodorant, moisturize with unrefined coconut oil, brush your teeth with baking soda/hydrogen peroxide, wash your clothes with soap nuts or extract (could be found online).

There are going to be chemicals in everything you buy from big corporations, it is their way to make the product cheap while not toxic enough to kill you right away.

Save yourself save your kids, do some research. For every cosmetic/detergent/anything there is a natural alternative.

Stop paying $5-15 for products made entirely of commercial detergents and chemicals!!!!!

They put SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate, which is the same detergent that's used to clean up oil spills and is highly toxic) in toothpaste, along other things. Why do you think you can't swallow toothpaste?? That stuff can actually kill a child or a young person if digested.

Wake up, people!

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