JJ Will Reformulate; Now, Whos Next?

By Tom Branna, Editorial Director | August 31, 2012

Last month Johnson & Johnson announced its move to reduce or eliminate a range of dubious ingredients from its product line by the end of 2015. The maker of Aveeno, Neutrogena and Johnson’s Baby Shampoo told the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (CSC), a national coalition of more than 175 nonprofit organizations, that it will reformulate hundreds of cosmetics and personal care products in all the markets it serves in 57 countries around the world. A couple of J&J’s reformulation efforts include the reduction of 1,4 dioxane to a maximum of 10 parts per million in adult products and the phase out of formaldehyde-releasers in adult products. As a measure of transparency, J&J launched www.SafetyandCareCommitment.com to help consumers understand all the measures it takes to ensure product safety.

“We’ve decided to phase-out or reduce certain ingredients that are safe by scientific standards and considered safe by key regulators around the world including the EU, the US and China,” said Susan Nettesheim, VP-product stewardship & toxicology. “We’re doing this because we’re listening to the people who rely on our products, and if they have concerns, we’re committed to addressing them, as long as we can do so safely and effectively. We want to be sure people have peace of mind bringing our products into their homes and caring for themselves and their families. Nothing is more important to us.”

While the move may have pleased CSC, it didn’t exactly appease the organization, which last month launched a national campaign challenging market leaders such as L’Oréal, Procter & Gamble, Estée Lauder, Avon and Unilever to follow J&J’s lead and commit to removing carcinogens and other harmful chemicals from cosmetics and specify a timeline for removal.

Even green competitors applauded J&J’s move and issued a challenge. John Replogle, CEO of Seventh Generation, observed: “We commend Johnson & Johnson for removing some of the ‘chemicals of concern’ found in their personal care and cosmetic products and taking the small step announced today. We think there is far more the company and other companies can and should be doing, and doing it much faster.”

For years, the industry and its associations have defended their use of certain ingredients with reams of safety studies and FDA’s blessings. Now, however, as one of the industry leaders changes its stance, it will be interesting to see how long it takes before others follow. Stay tuned.


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