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Procter & Gamble will soon start disclosing what’s *actually* in its fragrances


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Photo: Stocksy/Alejandro Moreno de Carlos

Those who are ingredient-conscious when it comes to their beauty routine tend to avoid anything with “fragrance” or “parfum” listed on the label. That’s because the elusive term isn’t regulated—which means it can have thousands of actual ingredients within that category without having to explicitly list them.

And now, in a major win for the clean beauty revolution, personal care product giant Procter & Gamble just announced that it’s getting transparent with its use of fragrance. And guess what—it’s the first company that’s committing to this level of disclosure across such a broad product portfolio. Cue jaw drop.

“For years, we’ve heard that it’s impossible to do—so when large companies like P&G show that it’s not, it’s hard for anyone else to come back and say they can’t disclose the ingredients.”

This means they’re sharing every actual fragrance ingredient—down to 0.01 percent—of its entire cadre of brands (which includes household names like Head & Shoulders, Olay, Pantene, and many others) in both the US and Canada by the end of 2019. That adds up to over 2,000 beauty and personal care products with fragrance on the label—so it’s no minor change.

“This is another step in our sustainability journey toward enabling consumers to make informed choices,” said Kathy Fish, chief technology officer at Procter & Gamble, in a statement. “We’re providing more information about fragrance ingredients because we believe this will build even greater trust in the quality and safety of all of our products.”

The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database has long been a tool for beauty consumers looking to get smart about what they put on their skin—and the non-profit organization is very excited about this move by a major force in the industry.

“People have been asking for this level of transparency for a long time,” says Nneka Leiba, director for healthy living science at EWG. “Hopefully this will push other companies to make similar moves. For years, we’ve heard that it’s impossible to do—so when large companies like P&G show that it’s not, it’s hard for anyone else to come back and say they can’t disclose the ingredients.”

She notes that fragrance was the one loophole in personal care in terms of ingredient disclosure. “The one elephant in the room was fragrance,” adds Leiba. “Now, it’s lifting the hood so consumers can see exactly what the company is using. It’s providing a level of disclosure that allows people to feel more confident in the safety of what they’re buying.” Alongside the push for the Personal Care Products Safety Act, count this as amazing news towards clean beauty’s march toward mainstream status.

In other natural beauty news, the FDA has moved to ban lead from all beauty products. And this senator is ringing the alarm on 1,4-dioxane, a toxic ingredient lurking in countless personal care products.