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March 23, 2018  |  Login
Personal Product Labeling Loopholes
By Dr Alan Greene

Because of the growing popularity of pure hygiene products, many manufacturers are putting words on their labels to attract green customers. But don’t be fooled. The Women’s Environmental Network alerts us that

  • “Hypoallergenic” is a word manufacturers can use without having to verify or prove their claim.
  • “Organic” can be used on a hygiene product even if only 1 percent of the content is of organic origin.
  • “Natural” is a meaningless word that can be applied to any toiletry.
  • “Unscented” implies “with no added fragrance,” but it does not mean that at all. In fact, fragrance is often added to these products to mask the odor of the other ingredients so that they appear odorless.

To learn more about the safety of personal care products, take a look at these Web sites:

  • The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics ( ) - This Web site gives you a wealth of information, including an up-to-date list of the more than four hundred companies that have signed the Compact for Safe Cosmetics. You will also find scientific reports, FDA regulations, news, and a wealth of other materials and resources.
  • Skin Deep ( ) ‑This is a product guide with in-depth information on over fourteen thousand personal care products and over seven thousand ingredients. Find out how the brands you use stack up. See alternative brands that are safer for your baby and the environment. This is a resource you can’t do without.
  • Household Products Database ( ) - What’s in your personal care products? And, for that matter, what’s in your bathroom, under the sink, in your laundry room, in your closet, in your garage? This government database provided by the National Library of Medicine lets you look up ingredients found on labels or look up products by brand name to learn about potential health or en­vironmental effects.
You might also want to explore an in-depth study reported by Health Care Without Harm, called “Aggregate Exposures to Phthalates in Humans”; you can find it at And be sure to read about the international campaign regarding phthalates in beauty products at



1.U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. Cosmetic Handbook. . 1992.

2.Code of Federal Regulations, Title 21, sec. 701.3, rev. Apr. 1, 2002.

3.Swan, S. H., and others. “Decrease in Anogenital Distance Among Male Infants with Prenatal Phthalate Exposure.” Environmental Health Perspectives, 2005, 113, pp. 1056–1061.

4.“Nail Polishes to Become a Little Safer.” Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. . Aug. 30, 2006
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