Be advised: the continuing creep of EWG/Skin Deep

chemicalmattchemicalmatt Member, Professional Chemist
Perusing a lineup of 'clean beauty' brands exhibiting at CPNA I saw this blurb more than once. How did it get this far? Gold Standard? Health & wellness?Think again. 
"We support EWG VERIFIED™ the gold standard in the health & wellness certification"

Comments

  • PhilGeisPhilGeis Member, Professional formulator
    EWG formerly hot a piece of the action (sales0 for their "certifications."  That still their practice?
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    Thanks P&G for giving them some legitimacy.
    https://www.allure.com/story/herbal-essences-shampoo-environmental-working-group-ewg-verified

    I wonder how the P&G on-staff Toxicologists feel about having to go through the EWG to get their work verified.
  • PhilGeisPhilGeis Member, Professional formulator
    edited August 20
    Thanks for the info Perry - this is shameful.  I know they've gone woke but sad to see P&G giving into extortion
  • ozgirlozgirl Member, PCF student
    It seems like the EWG are changing their ratings to get more products certified.

    For example Cocamidopropyl betaine has a rating of 1-5. So if you pay them and tell them it has low levels of impurities they will give it a rating of 1 and you can get your product certified.

    This doesn't mean companies that don't want to pay to have their product certified are using CAPB with high levels of impurities but to consumers it may look this way.  :(
  • acaciaacacia Member
    PhilGeis said:
    Thanks for the info Perry - this is shameful.  I know they've gone woke but sad to see P&G giving into extortion
    Sounds more like a shrewd marketing move on P&G's part.

    They know EWG increasingly have the ear of the consumer, especially since Gwyneth and one of the Kardashians got on board. 




  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    @ozgirl - yes, it’s one way they can increase yearly revenues. This happens to all the standards.  COSMOS is much looser than they used to be.

    @acacia - perhaps but it also puts all their other brands in jeopardy. I mean, if Hebalessence is now certified safe why would anyone buy the unsafe Pantene or Head and Shoulders products?  Or even the non-certified Herbalessence SKUs. 

    And to get everything certified means they have to tell EWG all their suppliers and other trade secrets. Seems like a dubious strategy to me since the average P&G consumer has no idea what the EWG is.
  • MarkBroussardMarkBroussard Member, Professional Chemist
    edited August 24
    I'm sure P&G have evaluated whether it is worth their while to EWG-certify some of their products.  Perhaps they are having good success with their two EWG-certified Shampoos and will offer more EWG-certified products.  This is just classic market segmentation so they have decided to offer a line of EWG-certified products for the consumers to whom this matters.  They would not do it if they did not see any marketing benefit or if they forecast cannibilization of their existing products.
    Chemist/Microbiologist formulating in the Organic & Naturals arena under ECOCert/Natural Products Assn/Whole Foods/National Organic Program guidelines focused skincare & haircare products. 

    See website for details www.desertinbloomcosmeticslab.com
  • PattsiPattsi Member
    I agree with @MarkBroussard and maybe with some pressure form retailers.
    I don't think this move will affect Pantene or Head and Shoulders, they still dominate parts of the globe where EWG doesn't matter. Maybe some adjustment in Europe to comply with regulation in the next few years. 
  • PhilGeisPhilGeis Member, Professional formulator
    Of course it's marketing - EWG "certification" has no other value and here is happy to acquiesce to P&G's existing safety assessment - adding nothing.  Advertising folks would make a deal with Hitler if it would increase share.  To this point, micro technologists ion majors have largely held the line dealing with the devil.

    Note - EWG militates against preservatives used in the other shampoos including Pantene and Head & Shoulders and technologists, as with all the majors, struggle to find useful replacements.  

    Here, I wonder if P&G gave them a piece of the action as has been EWG's practice.
  • MarkBroussardMarkBroussard Member, Professional Chemist
    EWG was charging 1% or revenues for the certification, but that was a couple of years back so I'm not sure what the current arrangement is.  I would suspect that EWG & P&G negotiated a much better deal since EWG could then enhance it's prestige in the market by touting that P&G was launching products in compliance with EWG guidelines.  I'm currently working on an EWG-compliant formula, but have not reviewed the financial details of their certification program.

    I have clients who are getting lots of pressure from the retailers, particularly on Phenoxyethanol.  It seems to be primarily a retailer-driven market shift, but of course that filters back to what consumers are buying from retailers.
    Chemist/Microbiologist formulating in the Organic & Naturals arena under ECOCert/Natural Products Assn/Whole Foods/National Organic Program guidelines focused skincare & haircare products. 

    See website for details www.desertinbloomcosmeticslab.com
  • PhilGeisPhilGeis Member, Professional formulator
    edited August 24
    I'm not sure it is consumers - as much as woke retailers, EWG et al.  and social media pressure.  Think if you were to ask consumers, most would not know what "parabens" are much less their "dangers".

    The bigger issue is micro risk for what's left for preservation.   none of the EWG driven BS offers a safer preservative system but it definitely drives to less effective ones, esp. in the hands of medium to small companies that are driving up micro recalls to levels not seen since the 1960's and 70's..  I recall one poster here stating they were trying some specific plant extracts - no doubt using USP 51 to "qualify" their preservative efficacy.   And no doubt ignorant of the fact that "passing" USP 51  means little in terms of preservative efficacy.


  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    Seems to me that getting P&G connected with the EWG might be a good short term win for EWG but a long term loss. If the EWG starts certifying all the big companies, what point of differentiation will a small company get? Certification may just become some cost of doing business without any additional benefit.

    This is the entire problem with "Clean Beauty" as a marketing position. It only holds marketing sway if you can say your product is somehow safer than standard beauty products. Once all the standard beauty products claim the same thing and have certifications, you no longer have anything that sets you apart.

    On Herbalessence, I suspect that the brand has been struggling so they let their marketing people experiment with certification.
  • MarkBroussardMarkBroussard Member, Professional Chemist
    The number of products in the market that are EWG-certified or any other certification is miniscule.  Once people consider the cost of the certification and giving up 1% of your revenues, most determine it is not worth it and elect to develop products that use ingredients with low EWG-ratings, but don't actually pursue the certification and address that in their marketing.
    Chemist/Microbiologist formulating in the Organic & Naturals arena under ECOCert/Natural Products Assn/Whole Foods/National Organic Program guidelines focused skincare & haircare products. 

    See website for details www.desertinbloomcosmeticslab.com
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    I agree, but if there is any significant marketing benefit in doing this, then more will do it. Sulfate free shampoo was also minuscule until it started catching on with consumers.  
  • PhilGeisPhilGeis Member, Professional formulator
    EWG specific credentialing is as Mark observes- too much of a rip off for most to accept.
    The issue is broader as the same sentiment is expressed in Priority Chemical Lists from Sephora, Target,  etc. that drive to weak preservative systems - and offered as fairly common practice in posts to Perry's discussion forum.    
  • MarkBroussardMarkBroussard Member, Professional Chemist
    Yes, Perry, that is true.  There could come a day when EWG compliant is just something that many companies do and it is no longer a differentiating factor in the market. 

    As of now, most retailers are focusing on specific ingredients, Phenoxyethanol being the current bad boy.  But, I can foresee retailers creating a special EWG-compliant product section on their website and in their stores much like they are doing for Sustainability and Clean Beauty.
    Chemist/Microbiologist formulating in the Organic & Naturals arena under ECOCert/Natural Products Assn/Whole Foods/National Organic Program guidelines focused skincare & haircare products. 

    See website for details www.desertinbloomcosmeticslab.com
  • MarkBroussardMarkBroussard Member, Professional Chemist
    @chemicalmatt

    "We support EWG VERIFIED™ the gold standard in the health & wellness certification"

    That comes directly from the EWG website
    Chemist/Microbiologist formulating in the Organic & Naturals arena under ECOCert/Natural Products Assn/Whole Foods/National Organic Program guidelines focused skincare & haircare products. 

    See website for details www.desertinbloomcosmeticslab.com
  • PhilGeisPhilGeis Member, Professional formulator
    edited August 25
    Disagree Mark - P&G adds very significant major market presence to EWG "credentialing". 
    Retailer ignorance in their priority chemical lists, with cowardly FDA, EU, PCPC and cynical marketers clearly put consumers at risk. 
    "We support EWG VERIFIED™ the gold standard in the health & wellness certification" - what garbage.
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