Statement on Unilever’s Decision to Disclose Fragrance Ingredients in Personal Care Products

Media Contacts
Dev Gowda

Statement from U.S. PIRG Toxics Advocate Dev Gowda on Unilever’s Fragrance Disclosure Announcement:

“U.S. PIRG applauds personal care product giant Unilever US, the maker of popular brands like Dove and Axe, for its announcement today that it will increase fragrance ingredient transparency in its personal care brands.

“Consumers have the right to know if they are exposed to harmful chemicals. Some chemicals used in fragrance have been linked to cancer, but because companies aren’t required to disclose fragrance ingredients, consumers have no way of knowing if the products they are applying to their bodies are putting their health at risk. Unilever has listened to the public and is now increasing transparency in the chemicals that they use in their fragrances.

“According to Unilever US’s statement, it will expand its current ingredient lists to include the fragrance ingredients in a product’s formulation above 0.01% (100 parts per million) through a smartphone or computer via SmartLabel. Unilever aims to complete this update by the end of 2018.

“This is a good first step for Unilever, but they should also provide full fragrance disclosure to consumers on product packages and regardless if the product contains fragrance ingredients over 100 parts per million. For certain chemicals like endocrine-disrupting compounds, low level exposures have been associated with serious health effects.

“This is a victory for consumer product transparency and a game changer for the personal care product industry. Other personal care manufacturers like Procter & Gamble and L’Oréal should follow Unilever’s lead and provide greater fragrance transparency.

“The ingredient “fragrance” or “parfum” refers to a mixture of scent chemicals and ingredients that are not required by law to be disclosed. According to the International Fragrance Association approximately 3,000 chemicals can be used to make fragrance, some of which have been linked to cancer, reproductive and respiratory problems, and allergies.

“Last year, U.S. PIRG and several other consumer, public health, and environment groups called on Unilever to disclose fragrance ingredients and to pledge to be toxic-free. You can view our open letter here.

“While this is a move in the right direction to increase transparency for consumers, Unilever should take the next step to protect public health and achieve full fragrance disclosure and remove all toxic chemicals of concern from their personal care product brands.”