There are many different chemical preservatives called parabens and are often seen listed as methylparaben, propylparaben, isoparaben, and butylparaben.
All U.S. cosmetics and personal care products are required to have a list of ingredients placed in order of their relative quantity. However, any ingredient used in fragrances or mixtures that are considered trade secrets are exempt from these requirements. Phthalates are frequently components of fragrance, which often contain dozens of chemicals. The entire mixture simply appears as “fragrance” on the ingredients list. Thus, reading labels cannot assure there are no phthalates in a product.
In May 2002, a coalition of environmental and public health organizations contracted with a major national laboratory to test 72 brand-name, off-the-shelf beauty products for the presence of phthalates. The majority of the products tested contained phthalates, yet none of them included phthalates on their ingredients list.
This fragrance and trade secret loophole gives consumers little power to avoid phthalates when purchasing their personal care products.
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