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Formaldehyde still used in baby shampoo

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Formaldehyde still used in baby shampoo

The Johnson & Johnson’s baby shampoo sold in some countries does not contain a formaldehyde-releasing ingredient, but the one sold in the US and Canada does.

Two years ago, bath and body giant Johnson & Johnson was criticized by watchdog group the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics for including a formaldehyde-releasing ingredient in its baby shampoo. Now, they are being criticized once more, as the original baby shampoo formulation sold in Canada and the US has still not been changed.

Surprisingly, the version of the product sold in certain other countries does not contain the risky ingredient, making it apparent that it is possible to produce a safer version.

The ingredient in question is not formaldehyde per se, but it is a preservative called quaternium-15 that releases formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is a carcinogen, but is still legal in products in small doses such as in the baby shampoo, even though it is known to cause skin rash even in these quantities.

Tips for consumers

  • Johnson & Johnson has released a statement claiming that it will phase out the ingredient. In the meantime, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is calling for parents to boycott the product until it bans the substance.
  • Although formaldehyde may be a well known chemical hazard, other dangerous ingredients also lurk in many hair products and other bodycare products—for babies and adults alike. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with some of the major offenders and steer clear of them when listed in the ingredient list. No ingredient list? Don’t buy it!
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