Johnson & Johnson pledged two years ago to remove formaldehyde from their "No More Tears" baby shampoo by 2013. After numerous attempts, they were finally successful in meeting this goal and were able to maintain the same consistency and color of this well-known product.
Formaldehyde was not actually an ingredient in the shampoo, or in the 100 other baby products which have also been reformulated by Johnson & Johnson. However, formaldehyde is released over time by preservatives such as quaternium-15, which was in the shampoo.
In addition, 1,4-dioxane, a solvent stabilizer in their products, was reduced to very limited trace amounts. Originally it had one to four parts per million.
Formaldehyde has been identified by government scientists as a carcinogen, reported the New York Times and 1,4-dioxane "which has been linked to cancer in animal studies, is created during a process used to make other ingredients mild.”
Johnson & Johnson has also promised to remove an array of chemicals from their other lines, such as Neutrogena and Aveeno, by 2015 in response to pressure from consumers and organizations such as the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.
To be fair, formaldehyde does exist in a number of products we use everyday. The Johnson & Johnson website states, “It is an organic compound that is present in all living organisms – found in the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat.”
However, that does not mean it belongs in products that we use directly on our children.
“Will a kid get cancer because there’s formaldehyde in their shampoo?” Heather White, executive director of the Environmental Working Group, a part of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, asked.
“We don’t know the answer to that. But why is there a carcinogen in their shampoo? When in doubt, take it out,” she told the New York Times.
The EWG does applaud Johnson & Johnson for standing by their word and meeting their promise.
Johnson & Johnson has also made progress in removing other chemicals that may cause potential harm from their products by the 2015 deadline.