Johnson & Johnson to Change Shampoo Formula Amid Carcinogen Concerns

Johnson & Johnson, the company that makes the iconic Johnson’s Baby Shampoo and other products for babies and children, has announced plans to remove potentially carcinogenic chemicals from its shampoo formulas.

Since 2009, when the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics released a report identifying traces of formaldehyde in a number of cosmetic products, including Johnson’s baby shampoo, the debate has escalated over whether government regulation of toxic chemicals in consumer products is sufficient.  This past June, the U.S. government’s National Toxicology Program officially identified formaldehyde as a carcinogen, renewing the urgency of the debate.

This week, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics released a new report, stating that Johnson & Johnson had removed the formaldehyde-releasing preservative quaternium-15, as well as the chemical byproduct 1,4-dioxane, from their products in some countries, but not in the United States.  Parents who wish to avoid these chemicals in the U.S. have to purchase Johnson’s “Naturals” line, which costs more than the standard shampoo formula. reports that although the Johnson & Johnson has not stated a definitive timeline for removing the chemicals from their products in the U.S., the company did release a statement pledging to phase them out entirely:

When Johnson & Johnson caught wind of the report, they contacted the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and got to work on a statement, indicating that they are in the process of phasing the formaldehyde-releasing preservative out of their baby products, worldwide.

“The preservative technologies we use are safe and approved by authorities in the European Union and in the United States, as well as in China and India, and we have not seen any evidence of allergy in hundreds of millions of real life uses of these products,” the statement reads. “However, we know that some consumers are concerned about formaldehyde, which is why we offer many products without formaldehyde releasing preservatives, and are phasing out these types of preservatives in our baby products worldwide.  We are no longer introducing new baby products that contain these types of preservatives. Over the past few years or so, we already have reduced the number of formulations globally with formaldehyde releaser preservatives by 33% and in the U.S. by over 60%.”

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics urges parents to avoid products containing ingredients that may be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, including sodium myreth sulfate, PEG compounds and chemicals that include the clauses “xynol,” “ceteareth” and “oleth.” Parents should also avoid products that contain formaldehye-releasing preservatives, including quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea and diazolidinyl urea.

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