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Unilever make a 'game-changing' move to disclose their fragrance ingredients to consumers.

Posted on Feb 20, 2017 6:31:00 PM

Unilever Fragrance.jpg“Unilever has broken open the black box of fragrance chemicals and raised the bar for transparency”

For decades, federal regulations in the United States have allowed companies use the word “fragrance” on soap, shampoo, skincare and other personal care product labels to hide the identity of multiple chemicals, many of them linked to allergies or other health effects. For the most part, personal care product companies and fragrance manufacturers have resisted calls for disclosure, and “fragrance” has remained a black box for hundreds of chemicals in thousands of everyday products.

But a major move announced earlier this month that could dramatically alter the personal care and fragrance markets, industry giant Unilever have announced a bold new initiative to provide detailed information on fragrance ingredients for all products in its multibillion-dollar portfolio of personal care brands, including Dove, Noxzema, Axe/Lynx and many more. The iniative has been launched in the US, UK, Netherlands and Germany with more European countries due to come online soon.

Unilever will label fragrance allergens to European Union standards across its full range of personal care products on the U.S. market, where such disclosures are not currently required by the government. The driving reason for the disclosures, company officials said, is their commitment to being as transparent as possible.

The initiative goes beyond labelling requirements to provide in-depth product and ingredient information for fragrances and includes:

  • Fragrance Ingredient Disclosure through SmartLabel™. This year, Unilever will begin to voluntarily expand its current product ingredient lists available through SmartLabel™ to include the fragrance ingredients in a product’s formulation above 0.01% (100 parts per million). Unilever aims to complete the SmartLabel™ updates by the end of 2018.
  • What’s in our Products section on UnileverUSA.com. Unilever is launching a new webpage that provides additional product information, including its approach to developing safe products, explanations of ingredient types, answers to common questions, and access to SmartLabel™.

“We believe this initiative will help consumers know more about the products they use every day and build further trust for their favourite Unilever personal care brands,” said Tamara Rogers, EVP Personal Care, Unilever United States ( @Unilever ).

It is an unprecedented leap toward transparency for a major company and a landmark win for consumers’ right to know, said President and Co-Founder Ken Cook of EWG, the non-profit research and advocacy organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. EWG has spent more than a decade urging the cosmetics industry, cleaning products manufacturers and other consumer goods companies to disclose information about fragrance ingredients

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“Unilever’s action is a game-changer for transparency in the personal care product market, and we expect other major companies to follow suit. This is an enormous win for consumers’ right to know. With this impressive display of leadership, Unilever has broken open the black box of fragrance chemicals and raised the bar for transparency across the entire personal care products industry – and beyond. It may not happen overnight, but Unilever’s watershed actions will place enormous pressure on the rest of the market to respond and make it very difficult for other companies to continue to shield their fragrance ingredients from consumers.” said Cook ( @EWGPrez ) .

“I applaud Unilever for its bold decision to give consumers more information about fragrance chemicals that are ubiquitous in personal care products. Fragrance chemicals ultimately end up in and on the bodies of virtually everyone who uses personal care products, including babies. I hope today’s decision by Unilever will prompt similar action by other companies in the personal care market and beyond, " Cook added. 

All of Unilever’s U.S. food and mass market personal care products -- totaling 1,800 products -- currently participate in SmartLabel™. As a U.S. industry initiative, SmartLabel™ provides people with an easy and fast way to get more information about their favorite products—beyond what can be provided on pack.

“Transparency is fundamental to running a sustainable business,” said Kees Kruythoff, President, Unilever North America. “Through SmartLabel and What’s in our Products, we are meeting the needs of our consumers who are increasingly mobile, online, and actively searching for products that are made responsibly and sustainably."


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Topics: BBWNBrands, BBWNChemicals, Cosmetics, regulation

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About the Author

Luke Upton
Luke Upton
Luke is the editor and co-founder of Bio-Based World has edited this site since its launch and previously worked for b2b media companies across industries including energy, advertising and sport. His ...read more