Cosmetics Companies File for ‘Trade Secret’ Status
Move skirts disclosure of toxic chemicals in new California database
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 28, 2014
SACRAMENTO—Twenty-two companies have requested trade secret status to avoid telling the public about toxic chemicals found in nearly 1,500 cosmetic products included in the new California Safe Cosmetics Program Database. The database was released earlier this month as part of the state’s Safe Cosmetics Act, which requires companies to report ingredients in their cosmetic products that are considered carcinogens or reproductive toxins under Proposition 65.
Women’s Voices for the Earth’s recent analysis shows that more than 20 companies—including the makers of Dial, Right Guard, Tresemme, Nexxus, Gold Bond, Selsun Blue, and even “green” brands like CHI Organics—are attempting to skirt the intent of the California’s Safe Cosmetics Act by avoiding public ingredient disclosure in the state’s new database.
“Trade secret status should never be allowed to conceal harmful chemicals such as carcinogens or reproductive toxins from consumers,” said Erin Switalski, Executive Director of Women’s Voices for the Earth, a national nonprofit with a track record of convincing companies to disclose and remove toxic chemicals from products women use. “It’s reasonable and prudent for consumers to want to avoid exposure to carcinogens, just as women of reproductive age may well want to avoid exposure to reproductive toxins.”
“We understand and respect the need for companies to have trade secret protections for the few select chemicals needed to a product’s competitive advantage, but we do not believe that these business needs should ever trump public health,” she said.
One example is Shiseido, a manufacturer of skincare, make-up and fragrances sold at popular retailers like Macy’s and Sephora. The company filed for trade secret status on ingredients in nearly 400 products they reported to the state.
Switalski said it’s “highly unlikely” that nearly all 400 products Shiseido reported to the database would have chemicals in them that actually need trade secret protection.
“It appears that they are abusing the system to unnecessarily hide harmful chemicals in some of their products from their customers,” she said.
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, of which Women’s Voices for the Earth is a co-founder, also called out the companies requesting trade secret status.
“It’s just plain wrong that companies are hiding chemicals linked to cancer and birth defects under the pretense of trade secrets,” said Janet Nudelman, director of program and policy and co-founder of the Campaign. “Consumers want and deserve full ingredient disclosure.”
Concerned consumers may call the 1-800 number listed on products made by these companies and ask them what ingredients they are hiding from their customers. They can also ask by tweeting the companies by following @women4earth and using the hashtag #nosecrets or tagging the companies in Facebook posts.
The 22 companies that requested trade secret status are:
Alberto Culver USA, Inc.
Demeter Fragrance Library, Inc.
Farouk Systems, Inc.
Great Clips, Inc.
Jan Marini Skin Research, Inc.
Rowpar Pharmaceuticals, Inc
Schwartzkopf & Henkel
Shiseido America, Inc.
Tammy Taylor Nails, Inc.
The Dial Corporation
See an expanded list with company brands.
The California Safe Cosmetics Program Product Database can be accessed at: http://www.safecosmeticsact.org/search/
Alexandra Scranton, firstname.lastname@example.org, (406) 396.1639, (406) 396.1639, mobile
Caitlin Copple, email@example.com, (406) 493.4281, (406) 493.4281, mobile
Founded in 1995, Women’s Voices for the Earth amplifies women’s voices to eliminate toxic chemicals that harm our health and communities. Learn more at womensvoices.org.