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Safety of Cosmetic Products for Babies Called Into Question

A study of 341 products analyzed in France revealed 299 formulas with ingredients considered high risk.

PARIS — The safety of cosmetic products for babies — including cleansing milks, lotions, shampoos and wipes — were called into question in France by the Women in Europe for a Common Future organization in a study released Monday.

The group surveyed 341 baby cosmetics products sold in French pharmacies, parapharmacies, supermarkets and organic shops, and assessed their ingredients based on labels. Using analysis of existing scientific literature and opinions from European Union and French risk assessment agencies, experts classified ingredients or groups of ingredients into three categories: high risk, moderate risk and low or not identified risk.

WECF found that three ingredients or ingredient families it considered high risk are in 299 of the products. These include methylisothiazolinone, a contact allergen; perfume or fragrance, which may involve potential allergy risks, and phenoxyethanol, a preservative suspected to be reprotoxic.

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There are also four ingredients or ingredient families that were classified as moderate risk found in 181 products. They are: EDTA, commonly used in foaming products; laureth and lauryl sulfate, which are foaming agents; mineral oils, byproducts of petroleum, which could be contaminated by impurities, and nanoparticles.

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WECF did not publish the names of any products included in its study.

Due to the survey’s findings, the organization is calling on legislators to ban the three “high-risk” ingredients for children under three years of age. It questions the use of unnecessary perfume or fragrance in baby cosmetics, and asks for the restriction on the inclusion of ingredients considered moderate risk plus a moratorium on suspected endocrine disruptors. WECF further recommends caution regarding ingredients whose risks are not clearly identified.

WECF also requests that the assessment of cosmetics’ safety be made based on product formula and not only on individual ingredients in products sold to consumers.

“WECF request, as well, to label contact allergens as to make them easily identifiable by consumers, especially for potential contact allergens,” the organization wrote. “WECF advises parents to limit the use of cosmetics and avoid as much as possible scented products.”