Baby shampoo reformulated to remove chemicals

By Mina Radman • Published: April 4th, 2014
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

If you’ve had a child or ever were a child … so, basically, everyone … then you’ve probably heard of Johnson & Johnson’s “No More Tears” baby shampoo. The shampoo, first introduced in 1953, was created to be gentle to baby’s eyes and has since bathed generations of Americans.

However, the shampoo’s formula recently changed. In January, Johnson & Johnson announced the company removed two ingredients from the shampoo, formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane, to appease concerned consumers and environmentalists . This begs the question: What are these two ingredients, and why did Johnson & Johnson remove them?

Formaldehyde is a naturally occurring chemical found in many fruits that we eat daily. But in high doses, formaldehyde, most commonly associated with preserving dead bodies, can be a cancer-causing agent. The other chemical, 1,4-dioxane, is a byproduct of other ingredients used to make the shampoo mild.

The baby shampoo contained small amounts of both chemicals. In fact, Johnson & Johnson leaders say a person consumes 15 times more formaldehyde when eating an apple than when using the “No More Tears” shampoo — although this hasn’t been proven by scientists. In small doses, neither chemical is bad for you or your child, but Johnson & Johnson’s decision to remove these products points to a shift in the cosmetics industry: a willingness to alter products if consumer demand for change is high.

Before you wonder whether all chemicals are bad for you, do the research yourself. Chemicals that can be dangerous in high doses are sometimes found naturally in small doses in foods we eat and products we use daily. As the familiar saying goes … moderation is key.

Of course, when it comes to taking care of our tiniest citizens, it’s no wonder that parents and the public want companies to be cautious.