by Campaign for Safe Cosmetics
May 12, 2010
A rose may be a rose.
But that rose-like
fragrance in your perfume may be something else entirely, concocted
from any number of the fragrance industry’s 3,100 stock chemical
ingredients, the blend of which is almost always kept hidden from
What We Found
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics
commissioned an independent lab to test 17 fragrance products.
Campaign partner Environmental Working Group assessed data from the
tests and the product labels.
The analysis reveals that the 17
products contained, on average:
Fourteen secret chemicals not
listed on labels due to a loophole in federal law that
allows companies to claim fragrances as trade secrets.
Ten sensitizing chemicals
associated with allergic reactions such as asthma, wheezing,
headaches and contact dermatitis.
chemicals linked to a range of health effects including
sperm damage, thyroid disruption and cancer.
The majority of chemicals found in this
report have never been assessed for safety by any publicly
accountable agency, or by the cosmetics industry’s self-policing
Fragrance is now
considered among the top five allergens in North America and
European countries and is associated with a wide range of skin,
eye and respiratory reactions.
Repeated, cumulative exposure to
chemical sensitizers like allergenic fragrance ingredients
increases the chance that a person will develop allergic
symptoms later in life. Our tests found an average of 10
chemical sensitizers in each fragrance product;
Exposure to hormone
disruptors has been linked to a wide range of health problems,
including an increased risk of cancer, especially
breast and prostate cancers; reproductive toxicity and
effects on the developing fetus; and predisposition to metabolic
disease such as thyroid problems or obesity.
We found 12 ingredients with the
potential to act as hormone disruptors in the products we
Chemicals in people
When sprayed or applied
on the skin, many chemicals from perfumes, cosmetics and
personal care products are inhaled or absorbed through the skin.
EWG study found
synthetic musk chemicals Galaxolide and Tonalide in the
umbilical cord blood of newborn infants; these chemicals were
found in all but one fragrance analyzed for this study.
phthalate (DEP), which appeared in 12 of the 17 products we
tested, has been found in 97 percent of Americans tested by the
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Where They Come From
Some perfume and cologne ingredients
are found on product labels, but others hide under the secretive
ingredient "fragrance." Due to this trade secrets loophole,
nearly half of the ingredients in the products we tested were
not listed on labels.
What You Can Do
Here’s what you can do to protect
yourself, your loved ones and future generations from unnecessary
exposure to toxic chemicals in personal care products.
Choose products with no added
fragrance: Use the
Skin Deep advanced search to find products that do not
include fragrance. Read ingredient labels, because even
products advertised as “fragrance-free” may contain a
Less is better: If you are very
attached to your fragrance, consider eliminating other
fragranced products from your routine, and using fragrance
Help pass smarter,
Sign our petition to Congress to voice your support!
Buying safer, fragrance-free products is a great start, but
we can’t just shop our way out of this problem. In order for
safer products to be widely available and affordable for
everyone, we must pass laws that shift the entire industry
to non-toxic ingredients and safer production.
Sign on to our letter to the celebrities
whose fragrances we tested –
Jennifer Lopez, Britney Spears, Halle Berry and Miley Cyrus
– and ask them to show their true leadership by taking a
stand against toxic chemicals in personal care products,
beginning with their own fragrance lines. You can also
contact other cosmetics companies to ask them to
disclose their fragrance ingredients. We've put together
talking points to get you started.
companies that fully disclose ingredients in their products.