Avon To Phase Out Triclosan From Products

This antibacterial soap from Avon currently contains triclosan, but the company says it will phase out the chemical's use going forward.

This antibacterial soap from Avon currently contains triclosan, but the company says it will phase out the chemical’s use going forward.

Four years ago, the FDA admitted that triclosan — an antibacterial and antifungal chemical used in numerous soaps, cosmetics and other products — doesn’t provide any additional benefit to simple soap-and-hot-water hand-washing. And while the agency mulls over proposed rules that would require companies that use triclosan in soap to prove their products are safe and more effective, some companies are responding to customer demand and phasing out the use of the chemical on their own.

Today, the folks at Avon announced that it will begin getting rid of triclosan from its line of cosmetic and personal care products. New products will not have the ingredient and Avon will replace it in products that currently contain triclosan.

The company says it believes that the chemical is safe, but decided to remove the controversial ingredient “based on the preferences expressed by some of our customers for products without triclosan.” According to Avon, only a small number of its products are affected by this decision.

Other companies that have vowed to phase out triclosan include household products titans Procter & Gamble, whose website still says it aims to phase out the chemical by 2014, and Johnson & Johnson, which began its phase-out of triclosan in 2012.

“It’s a hormonally active chemical that has no business being in cosmetics and personal care products,” says Janet Nudelman,co-founder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and director of program and policy at the Breast Cancer Fund, in a statement following today’s announcement. “But triclosan is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to unsafe chemicals in cosmetics. We want Avon to adopt a comprehensive policy that declares chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects and other adverse health effects to be off limits in cosmetics and to support stricter regulation of the $71 billion cosmetics industry so that everyone is protected.”

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.