Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Mom's Reaction to Johnson & Johnson's Toxic Ingredients

Here's the important part:
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics came out with the news two years ago that Johnson & Johnson’s iconic baby shampoo contained the formaldehyde-releasing preservative quaternium-15, as well as the chemical byproduct 1,4-dioxane. Formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane are known carcinogens. The federal Consumer Product Safety Commission has reported that “the presence of 1,4-dioxane, even as a trace contaminant, is cause for concern,” and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services added formaldehyde to its list of known human carcinogens in June 2011.

[I encourage you to check your current baby shampoo products for these ingredients. Let me know what you find in the comments below].

Considering Johnson & Johnson is the poster child for safe baby products, everyone is up in arms over this. I have mixed feelings about it.

On one hand, there is no way in hell I am going to give my baby something with known carcinogens in it. As a mother, it is my right and responsibility to protect my son in any way I can. How dare they claim to have gentle, safe products for our babies' skin when they contain cancer-causing ingredients - and they have known this for years? I am outraged.

On the other hand, I wonder how much of this is hype and just a PR nightmare instead of a real threat. And I feel a little bad for Johnson & Johnson for being the scapegoat here. They are not the only company to have these ingredients, but they are getting hit the hardest with bad PR and angry customers. Statistics and surveys can be manipulated to skew results so easily, and we have to be smart consumers. Who can we trust?

Then again, it wasn't long ago that similar reports were coming out about cigarette smoke being dangerous - and we know those were true. Will these carcinogens be this generation's cigarette smoking?

What's a mother to do? It's enough to make me want to become a farmer and grow all my own food and make our soaps from scratch (I have actually done this before for a project in high school).

At the end of the day, I'd rather be safe now than sorry twenty years down the road. I hear that California Baby is one of the brands that does not contain these ingredients, so we will probably give that a try.


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  2. Thanks for reaching out to us @JNJComm. I am the VP of Media Relations for Johnson & Johnson and appreciate you letting us know your thoughts on the recent issues about our JOHNSON’S baby shampoo ingredients. I am also a father of three and I can appreciate the sentiments you describe as a parent of small children who may use our products and who would naturally be concerned or confused by what has been said in the media recently. On behalf of our Consumer business, I wanted to let you know that the bond of trust we have with parents like you is incredibly important to us and something we’ve tried to build on for more than 100 years. You can be assured that our JOHNSON’S products are safe, and can read more about the steps we have taken -- and are taking – to go beyond safety alone here ( You should know we continue to improve our products every day to make certain they contain purer, milder and gentler ingredients that parents can use with complete confidence and peace of mind. If you’d like to hear some other views as well, you can also check out this video from the Personal Care Council, of which we are a member. Thanks.