WWD.com/fashion-news/fashion-features/chemical-reaction-a-beauty-battle-rages-over-phthalates-760721/
government-trade
government-trade

Chemical Reaction: A Beauty Battle Rages Over Phthalates

NEW YORK — An ingredient war has erupted, touched off by a full-page ad in Thursday’s New York Times, bearing the headline "Sexy for her/ For baby, it could really be poison."<br><br>At issue is the question of whether or not phthalates...

NEW YORK — An ingredient war has erupted, touched off by a full-page ad in Thursday’s New York Times, bearing the headline “Sexy for her/ For baby, it could really be poison.”

At issue is the question of whether or not phthalates — which are used in fragrances, hair sprays, nail polishes and deodorants — can cause birth defects.

In a report entitled “Not Too Pretty,” which this week was published jointly by the organizations Environmental Working Group, Coming Coming Clean and Health Care without Harm, the groups contended that phthalates, chemical additives used as emulsifiers, are responsible for birth defects. In the case of nail polish, phthalates are used to reduce cracking, and they also keep hair sprays from sticking. In fragrance, the chemical is used as a fixative. The chemical is also widely used in plastic and vinyl products, such as car seats, IV bags, vinyl flooring and wallpaper, to make them flexible.

Cosmetics manufacturers, as well as the Cosmetics, Toiletry and Fragrance Association, lined up in opposition Thursday with the allegations contained in “Not Too Pretty,” pointing to studies done by such groups as the Cosmetic Ingredient Review that justify use of the ingredient. The Food and Drug Administration, which has been investigating the ingredient, said it sees no immediate cause for concern.

According to “Not Too Pretty”: “In May a coalition of environmental and public health organizations contracted with a major national laboratory to test 72 name-brand, off-the-shelf beauty products for the presence of phthalates, a large family of industrial chemicals linked to permanent birth defects in the male reproductive system,” said the report. “The laboratory found phthalates in nearly three-quarters of the products tested….in concentrations ranging from trace amounts to nearly 3 percent of the product formulation.”

Furthermore, the report asserted, “in animal tests some phthalates damage the developing testes of offspring and cause malformations of the penis and other parts of the reproductive tract.” The report took aim at nearly all the top manufacturers in the beauty and personal care industries, including Revlon, Calvin Klein, Christian Dior, Procter & Gamble, Alberto Culver, Jergens, Nivea, Estée Lauder Cos., Elizabeth Arden, OPI, Coty, Avon Products, Liz Claiborne and Wet ‘n Wild, all of which were either listed in the report or in the New York Times ad.

“Major loopholes in federal law allow the $20-billion-a-year cosmetics industry to put unlimited amounts of phthalates into many personal care products with no required testing, no required monitoring of health effects, and no required labeling,” said the report. “None of the 52 phthalate-containing products list the offending chemical on its ingredient label.”

CTFA responded to “Not Too Pretty”’s accusations with an extensive statement of its own. To the allegation that the offending chemicals are not on labels, CTFA responded: “As a fragrance might contain hundreds of fragrance materials, the law recognizes that such information on individual materials, present in very small quantities, would not be practical to put on the label, and requires instead that the term “fragrance” be listed. The Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act requires that cosmetics and their individual ingredients must be safe and that labeling must be truthful and not misleading….FDA can take immediate action to stop the sale of any product that does not meet these standards.”

To the question of whether phthalates are safe, CTFA said: “The use of phthalates in cosmetics and personal care products is supported by an extensive body of scientific research and data that confirms safety. Phthalates are widely used in many everyday products in modern society. Consumers can have confidence in their cosmetics given their oversight by the FDA and long history of safe use.” CTFA points out that the FDA, the Environmental Protection Agency, Health Canada and other scientific bodies in Europe, North America, and Japan have examined phthalates and allow their continued use.

“Phthalates were also reviewed by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR), an independent body that reviews the safety of ingredients used in cosmetics,” the CTFA statement continued. “CIR found them to be safe for use in cosmetics in 1985. CIR is an independent, nonprofit scientific body that holds open public meetings and publishes its findings in a peer-reviewed journal. Its seven voting medical and scientific members must meet the same conflict of interest standards as persons serving on the FDA’s expert advisory committees. FDA, the Consumer Federation of America, and industry serve as nonvoting members on the CIR Expert Panel.”

At its meeting on June 19th, the CIR expert panel voted to begin a re-review of the phthalates. Said the CTFA: “The re-review is a normal part of the CIR process to evaluate new data and assure that previous conclusions are still valid. Starting this process does not suggest that a previous conclusion will be changed, only that there is sufficient new information that should be evaluated.” According to the FDA, the study is expected to be complete in a year.

Although the FDA is studying “data to determine whether the levels described in the Centers for Disease Control report [another study looking at phthalates] are a health concern,” the agency “believes that at the present time there is no reason for consumers to be alarmed at the use of cosmetics containing phthalates,” according to an FDA statement. The agency continued: “If FDA determines that a health hazard exists, the agency will advise the industry and the public, and will consider its legal options under the authority of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act in protecting the health and welfare of consumers.”

Monica Collins, a spokeswoman for Procter & Gamble cosmetics, said, “Our products that contain phthalates have been thoroughly reviewed and approved as safe by numerous world government regulatory bodies such as the FDA in the U.S., the MHLW in Japan and [various] European bodies,” said Collins. “They’ve also been reviewed and approved as safe by independent scientists such as the CIR.” Her views were echoed by representatives from several other leading cosmetics firms.

“We firmly believe that our products and the ingredients they contain are safe,” said John Wendt, executive vice president, corporate and public affairs for L’Oréal USA. “The CTFA evaluation, as well as other studies, have proven that these are safe ingredients.” He asserted that at the present time there are no plans to remove this ingredient from the company’s products.

“We have tremendous faith in our products,” said Sally Susman, senior vice president of global communications for The Estée Lauder Cos. “We are focused on caring for our customers and we stand foursquare both behind our products and the CTFA statement.”

“The use of phthalates in cosmetics and personal care products is supported by an extensive body of scientific research and data that confirms safety,” said Elizabeth Musmanno, vice president of global public relations for Calvin Klein Cosmetics.

“The safety of phthalates, as they are used in cosmetics, has been confirmed by an extensive body of scientific research,” Coty Inc. said in a statement. “Phthalates are widely used in many everyday products in today’s society, and are approved for use in cosmetics by the Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, Health Canada, and other scientific bodies in Europe and Asia.”

Although the FDA is studying “data to determine whether the levels described in the Centers for Disease Control report [another study looking at phthalates] are a health concern,” the agency “believes that at the present time there is no reason for consumers to be alarmed at the use of cosmetics containing phthalates,” according to an FDA statement. The agency continued: “If FDA determines that a health hazard exists, the agency will advise the industry and the public, and will consider its legal options under the authority of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act in protecting the health and welfare of consumers.”

Monica Collins, a spokeswoman for Procter & Gamble cosmetics, said, “Our products that contain phthalates have been thoroughly reviewed and approved as safe by numerous world government regulatory bodies such as the FDA in the U.S., the MHLW in Japan and [various] European bodies,” said Collins. “They’ve also been reviewed and approved as safe by independent scientists such as the CIR.” Her views were echoed by representatives from several other leading cosmetics firms.

“We firmly believe that our products and the ingredients they contain are safe,” said John Wendt, executive vice president, corporate and public affairs for L’Oréal USA. “The CTFA evaluation, as well as other studies, have proven that these are safe ingredients.” He asserted that at the present time there are no plans to remove this ingredient from the company’s products.

“We have tremendous faith in our products,” said Sally Susman, senior vice president of global communications for The Estée Lauder Cos. “We are focused on caring for our customers and we stand foursquare both behind our products and the CTFA statement.”

“The use of phthalates in cosmetics and personal care products is supported by an extensive body of scientific research and data that confirms safety,” said Elizabeth Musmanno, vice president of global public relations for Calvin Klein Cosmetics.

“The safety of phthalates, as they are used in cosmetics, has been confirmed by an extensive body of scientific research,” Coty Inc. said in a statement. “Phthalates are widely used in many everyday products in today’s society, and are approved for use in cosmetics by the Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, Health Canada, and other scientific bodies in Europe and Asia.”