More Transparency Demanded for Cosmetics

Surveys shows that most women want to know what ingredients are in perfumes and other cosmetics so that they can avoid contact allergies. However, most packaging uses collective terms like “perfume”, “fragrance”, or “flavor”. These terms hide combinations of more than 100 different substances. Consumers cannot recognize if the product contains allergens.

Alexandra Scranton, the director of Women’s Voices for the Earth (WVE) reports on this situation in an essay for the online portal ChemicalWatch. She says what the majority of women are thinking. Three of every four mothers in the United States want safe products. They look at lists of ingredients closely to avoid any health risks that the family might face. Those figures come from a survey of 1,000 American mothers last year. Another survey came to similar conclusions. More than half of all women read labels in detail to avoid coming into contact with specific substances like sulfates, parabens, or Polyethylene glycols.

Good reasons exist for such careful reading. According to a report of the British Journal of Dermatology, about 40% of the 12,000 participants in 5 European countries have suffered from a contact allergy at some point in their life. They read product labels very carefully so that they can avoid fragrances.

According to the German Allergy and Asthma Association (Deutscher Allergie- und Asthmabund), almost every fifth person has had an allergic reaction to one of the most common contact allergens.
In its report (available in German only) on the current spread of allergies in Germany, the Robert Koch Institute warns of minimizing the harm of allergies. The institute even speaks of a widespread disease that affects the quality of life for many people and calls the “allergy problem in Germany a serious problem in our healthcare.”

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