On the basis of scientific studies and evaluations of the health authorities of the European Union (Scientific Committee for Consumer Safety, SCCS) and French (National Agency for Drug Safety, ANSM), this NGO has classified the ingredients that make up these three categories: “high risk”, “moderate risk” and “low or unidentified risk”.
The results of this survey show that a large majority of products, 299 out of 341, are composed of “high risk” ingredients.
A contact allergen (methylisothiazolinone or MIT) was found in 19 products, including seven wipes, a preservative suspected of toxic effects on reproduction (phenoxyethanol) in 54 products, including 26 wipes, as well as perfumes in 226 products, “involving potential risks of allergies,” worries WECF.
By December 2012, the French Society of Dermatology had revealed that MIT, a conservative widely used in cosmetics to replace parabens (themselves accused of being endocrine disruptors), led to an increasing number of irritations and eczema .
In September 2014, Brussels had also reduced its use without prohibiting it. Finally, “only the liniment has no high-risk substance,” commented Elisabeth Ruffinengo, WECF’s Health and Environment Project Manager.
The NGO also found four ingredients or families of ingredients classified as “moderate risk” in 181 products: EDTA, a compound very present in foaming products (shampoos and baths), sulphates (laureth and lauryl sulfate) , which are potentially irritating foaming agents, as well as mineral oils, derived from petroleum chemistry, which may be contaminated by impurities and nanoparticles, “whose effects are still poorly evaluated”.
EDTA was found in 87 products, including 30 wipes; sulphates in 50 products, mostly bath products and shampoos; mineral oils in 30 products, mostly creams and lotions; finally, nanoparticles, in 14 solar products.
Baby products: The skin of the baby particularly fragile
WECF, which is based on a network of 150 environmental and women’s organizations in 50 countries, is calling for “a ban on all three high-risk ingredients in all cosmetics for children under three years old”. “We were very surprised by the omnipresence of perfumes in almost all products,” while this ingredient, completely superfluous, can cause allergies by contact, said Elisabeth Ruffinengo.
“There has certainly been progress” in the composition of baby cosmetics, she added. “But the precautionary principle would be that we do not use substances that we know are potentially dangerous,” she said. Because the skin of the baby and the young child is particularly fragile.
“Its pH is neutral during the first weeks and it is not yet protected by the hydrolipidic film which protects the cells from external influences. It is also more permeable than that of the adult, because the cells of the epidermis are not yet sufficiently welded to each other, “says the NGO.
In addition, in the baby, the area of the seat, often wet and hot, is particularly sensitive “because it promotes the absorption of substances by the dermal route”. However, the study shows that the incriminated ingredients are found very often in the wipes. “This is very disturbing. The wipes are very used because they are practical, without rinsing, transportable everywhere, “noted Elisabeth Ruffinengo.
In October 2013, the consumer association UFC-Que Choisir had tested 27 baby wipes and found that 94% of the wipes tested could be harmful.
The ANSM had itself recommended in 2012, “as a precaution”, not to use baby wipes containing phenoxyethanol, the same high-risk conservative by WECF.
Already in 2014 according to a survey of 60 Million consumers 28 baby products and baby care summer avoid
The big brands pointed finger
The magazine featured Pampers and Mixa bébé wipes, which contain phenoxyethanol or Biolane cleansing water “stuffed with allergenic and sensitizing compounds.” The results are just as negative for cleansing milks as 60 Million consumers advise against seven of the ten tested (including Mixa Baby, Poupina, Baby Carrefour, Auchan Baby …) and moisturizers, five out of seven do not pass the bar tests (Baby Cadum, Nivea Baby, Pommette, Corine de Farme, Prim’age).
More generally, the magazine denounces the hypoallergenic mention that can “mislead consumers on the lack of ingredients at risk.” These findings are likely to have a strong resonance for both parents and industry.