Test: Body lotions may contain endocrine disrupting chemicals and allergenic perfume

16. apr 2018

Body lotion bought in shops may contain problematic chemicals, but there are also many choices without unwanted substances.

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Test: Body lotions may contain endocrine disrupting chemicals and allergenic perfume
Photo: Anne Beck Christensen

24 body lotions in test are without unwanted substances

Out of 54 body lotions purchased by The Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals, 24 are good choices when it comes to chemical content.

They are free from endocrine disruptors, allergenic preservatives, perfume and substances that may damage the environment.

See the full test in Danish (with product pictures and assessments)

Body lotion has longtime skin contact

Chemicals can be absorbed through the skin. Body lotion is a personal care product where it might be important to consider the chemical content. Body lotion is often used daily in larger amounts, and it is a leave on product.

This means that a body lotion is a product that can lead to a larger exposure to the chemicals in the product compared to products used in small amounts or products that are rinsed off.

Read about all tests of chemicals in consumer products from the Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals

Cocktail effect: The total exposure might be problematic

Parabens, BHT and cyclopentasiloxane are substances that are suspected endocrine disruptors. These substances were found in 8 body lotions in the test.

A body lotion containing endocrine disrupting chemicals is most likely of no risk in itself. But the chemicals contribute to the total exposure to endocrine disrupting substances – the so-called cocktail effect.

Even if a product in itself is safe, it gives a contribution to the total chemical load, along with the chemical contributions from indoor climate, food, building materials and other consumer products. The total exposure might be problematic even if each exposure is safe on its own.

Therefor minimizing the exposure to endocrine disrupting substances is a good idea. This test shows how to start by avoiding suspected endocrine disruptors in body lotion.

Suspected endocrine disruptors were found in products from Clarins, Elisabeth Arden, The Body Shop, Lancôme, Dove, Derma V10, Forever Living and Vaseline intensive care.

How we conduct tests in The Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals

Allergenic preservatives and perfume

The allergenic preservatives dmdm hydantoin og diazolidinyl urea were found in two body lotions from Elisabeth Arden and Forever Living. Both chemicals release formaldehyde, and the substances can cause a lifelong allergy.

The perfume hydroxyisohexyl 3-cyclohexene carboxaldehyde was also found in these body lotions. A ban has recently been decided on the substance because it is very allergenic. However it can still be found in cosmetic products until 2021.

Overview of the test results

The body lotions in the test were distributed as follows:

  • 24 received the best assessment
  • 22 received the middle assessment (for example with perfume content)
  • 8 received the lowest assessment (for example with suspected endocrine disrupting substances)

In the test we found the following problematic substances in the body lotions:

  • Parabens, which are suspected to be endocrine disrupting
  • BHT, which is suspected to be endocrine disrupting
  • Cyclopentasiloxane, which is suspected to be endocrine disrupting and problematic to the environment
  • Diazolidinyl urea, which is formaldehyde releasing and an allergenic preservative
  • Dmdm hydantoin which is formaldehyde releasing and an allergenic preservative
  • Hydroxyisohexyl 3-cyclohexene carboxaldehyde, which is an allergenic perfume that will be banned from 2021

The products have all been purchased on the Danish market. The test is based on the declared ingredients, and the ingredient lists have been checked with the producers in order to ensure that the information is correct.

See the full test in Danish (with product pictures and assessments)