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Formaldehyde and 1,4 Dioxane in Baby Care Products

By Kristie Turck •  Published 03/13/09 •  3 min read

Last updated on August 19th, 2022 at 10:47 pm

johnsons_shampooThe Green-Internet is already buzzing about a new report that came out regarding toxic chemicals in childrens and baby skin care products.  The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics published a press release yesterday outlining their findings from independent studies and some tips on what to do.

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics tested dozens mainstream baby care products ranging from Johnson & Johnson, Baby Magic, Suave and Mustela and found formaldehyde and 1,4 dioxane in many of them.

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics commissioned an independent laboratory to test 48 products for 1,4-dioxane; 28 of those products were also tested for formaldehyde. The lab found that:

  • 17 out of 28 products tested – 61 percent – contained both formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane.
  • 23 out of 28 products – 82 percent – contained formaldehyde at levels ranging from 54 to 610 parts per million (ppm).
  • 32 out of 48 products – 67 percent – contained 1,4-dioxane at levels ranging from 0.27 to 35 ppm.

We get tons of email from readers asking what to do about skin rashes and eczema and if you aren’t already using a natural bath product line it’s time to start.  For starters, formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane are known carcinogens.  Why would we want that on our kids or us?  In addition, formaldehyde can also trigger skin rashes in some children.  These substances are not on labels obviously, but that’s because they are contaminants of the processes companies use to create and package them.  So you won’t know by reading the labels.

This is why we are constantly beating our brains to avoid ingredients like PEG’s and sodium laureth sulfate (SLS).  From The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics:

Formaldehyde contaminates personal care products when common preservatives release formaldehyde over time in the container. Common ingredients likely to contaminate products with formaldehyde include quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea and diazolidinyl urea.

1,4-dioxane is a byproduct of a chemical processing technique called ethoxylation, in which cosmetic ingredients are processed with ethylene oxide. Manufacturers can easily remove the toxic byproduct, but are not required by law to do so. Common ingredients likely to be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane include PEG-100 stearate, sodium laureth sulfate, polyethylene and ceteareth-20.

What to do?

Mainstream baby products might label themselves as “pure, gentle… just like water” or whatever else they claim but in reality, they’re not.  They’re cheap, yes, but it is worth it?

Take Action

Tell Congress what you want… safer products for you, your babies, your kids and everyone else.  Enough is enough!  Your voice is louder than you think.  Write to Congress today.


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