Cosmetics and Fragrance Industry claims government regulations are sufficient

Dear Canadian Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association,

How about not hiding behind lax government regulations?



In  the letter I received from them (included below) they claim that: “it is illegal to sell cosmetics or other personal care products that would cause harm when used as intended”


Then why are so many people getting asthma, headaches, chemical sensitivities, and some other serious and disabling effects from their products?

CCTFA hides behind lax regulations

CCTFA hides behind lax regulations

Dear Sir/Madam,

Thank you for bringing to our attention your concerns regarding the safety of cosmetics and other personal care products. We certainly share the view that these products must not only be effective for consumers, but must also be safe from both a human health and environmental perspective when used as intended.

It is important to note that cosmetics and other personal care products are regulated by governments in Canada, the European Union, the United States and most other jurisdictions around the world based upon the principles of sound science and safety/risk assessment. Regulatory authorities in these jurisdictions also regularly share information to ensure that they are aware of the most current information and data in assessing ingredient/product safety.

Specifically in Canada, Health Canada regulates cosmetics and other personal care products under the Food and Drugs Act and its Cosmetic, Food and Drug, and Natural Health Product regulations. Ingredients used in cosmetics and other personal care products are also subject to review under Canada’s world-leading Chemicals Management Plan. As such, it is illegal to sell cosmetics or other personal care products that would cause harm when used as intended.

With respect to the specific ingredients referenced in your email, Health Canada and jurisdictions around the world have reviewed all of these and found them to be safe as currently permitted for use in cosmetics and personal care products. Should you wish to receive a copy of Health Canada’s comments on these ingredients, please advise us by e-mail at and we would be pleased to forward them to you.

With respect to ingredient disclosure, the law in Canada and most jurisdictions requires that all ingredients be disclosed using the International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI) which is intended to be uniformly identifiable, particularly by health care providers. The exception, which your e-mail correctly identified, is with respect to the fragrance component of a product. Regulations currently allow this fragrance component to be identified as “fragrance/parfum” in the list of ingredients. The European Union, however, does require that any of some 26 allergens that might be in a fragrance be included in the ingredient list. Should Health Canada consider changing their current requirements, the CCTFA would seek to ensure that they are harmonized with other jurisdictions to facilitate common international labelling requirements.

We very much welcome the opportunity to engage with you on the issues related to the safety of cosmetics, personal care and consumer products generally. Should you have any further questions, please feel free to e-mail us at or, should you wish to learn more about Health Canada’s regulation of cosmetics and personal care products, please visit their website.

With best regards,

The Canadian Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association (CCTFA)

Please watch the video The Story of Cosmetics for some background.

the story of cosmetics

The Story of Stuff website has a great deal of excellent info.


“What’s that smell? Unfortunately, there’s no way to know. Fragrance is considered a trade secret, so companies don’t have to tell us what’s in it – often dozens or even hundreds of synthetic chemical compounds”

More info, including some of the health effects of fragrance ingredients:

Fragrance and parfum

…”Even products marketed as “fragrance-free” or “unscented” may in fact contain fragrance along with a masking agent ii that prevents the brain from perceiving odour. In addition to their use in cosmetics, fragrances are found in numerous other consumer products, notably laundry detergents and softeners and cleaning products.

Health and Environmental Hazards

Of the thousands of chemicals used in fragrances, most have not been tested for toxicity, alone or in combination. Many of these unlisted ingredients are irritants and can trigger allergies, migraines, and asthma symptoms. iii A survey of asthmatics found that perfume and/or colognes triggered attacks in nearly three out of four individuals. iv There is also evidence suggesting that exposure to perfume can exacerbate asthma, and perhaps even contribute to its development in children.” …

Do you want to know what else might be in fragrances?

The International Fragrance Association has released a list of 3194 materials that their members told them they use. This means there may be other ingredients that their members have not revealed, as the survey seems to be voluntary.

From IFRA’s website:

IFRA has published an alphabetized list of fragrance ingredients used by IFRA affiliated members around the world. This list represents the industry’s palette of materials from which fragrances are formulated…
The list of fragrance ingredients was generated from the IFRA 2008 Use Survey. This survey is carried out on a regular basis among IFRA affiliated member companies representing approximately 90% of the world’s production volume of fragrances.

This initiative enhances the transparency of the North American communication initiative where manufacturers of cleaning products, air care products, automotive care products, polishes and floor maintenance products have voluntarily disclosed ingredients in these products on January 1, 2010.

The following 3194 materials have been reported as used in fragrance compounds in 2008 and updated in 2010.

For the complete list see IFRAs website

 Ingredients include:

Benzene, Butyl Butarate, Toluene, Heptane, Isopropyl acetate, Parabens , Phthalates, Distillates, Petroleum, Naphtha, styrene, Ethylene Glycol…

For info about the adverse health effects from these and other chemicals, check these websites:

Also look up endocrine disruption. Some of the chemicals are endocrine disruptors, which cause lasting harm at miniscule doses.

Want things to change?  

Aside from not purchasing these toxic products, which will send a loud and clear message to the manufacturers, you can call or write to let them know you want only proven to be safe ingredients

Here are some petitions, so easy to sign:

Tell Canada to Take Toxic Ingredients Out of Body Care Products

David Suzuki’s site has several:


CCTFA: Do the right thing and get the toxic chemicals out of your products!

2 responses to “Cosmetics and Fragrance Industry claims government regulations are sufficient

  1. Loved the video! As my husband and I prepare to start a family, this information is invaluable.

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