Addressing misinformation on the internet about EWG’s ratings systems

A recent viral social media post about a Bath & Body Works air freshener makes inaccurate and misleading allegations about EWG’s product ratings systems.

So let’s clear a few things up!

Companies can’t pay for better ratings

Contrary to what the post claims, EWG does not charge a fee for a product to be rated in either our Skin Deep® cosmetics database or our Guide to Healthy Cleaning.

Companies cannot pay to have a better hazard score in EWG’s databases.

We don’t recommend air fresheners

It is unclear why the post in question associates EWG with a product that is not rated in our databases – and is an air freshener, a product category we’ve suggested for over a decade that consumers consider avoiding altogether

EWG has previously conducted tests for airborne pollutants and indoor air quality after air fresheners and other cleaning products were used, and we are currently conducting another round of product tests to understand how products with fragrance may affect health.

Our work has and will always put protecting public health first.

How ratings work in Skin Deep and the Guide to Healthy Cleaning

U.S. law allows manufacturers of personal care and cleaning products to use almost any ingredient they wish, including known carcinogens and substances that can harm fetal and infant development. And the government doesn’t review the safety of products before they’re sold. To fill those gaps, EWG developed its Skin Deep and Guide to Healthy Cleaning.

Skin Deep includes ratings for over 87,000 products from more than 2,800 brands. To build it, our staff scientists have compared almost 9,900 ingredients on personal care product labels and websites to the information in nearly 60 toxicity and regulatory databases.

EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning includes ratings for over 2,500 products from nearly 200 brands. Unlike manufacturers of cosmetics and personal care products, companies that make cleaning products are not required to list on the package, bottle or box the ingredients they put in their formulations. This lack of disclosure can make it almost impossible for consumers to find the healthiest products, and it means that to build the guide, EWG’s researchers had to go beyond labels.

We’ve compared more than 1,000 ingredients listed on cleaning product labels, websites and worker safety documents with the information available in government, industry and academic toxicity databases and the scientific literature.

We make all our ingredient and product ratings, scoring methodology and references available to the public.

Featured Guides
You have questions. We have answers.

We built our consumer guides to help you learn about the hidden health dangers in your food, water and everyday products to make better decisions.

How EWG VERIFIED® actually works

The EWG VERIFIED mark is given only to products that meet our strict standards.

An EWG VERIFIED product is evaluated beyond what’s listed on the ingredient label. For these products, our scientists conduct a rigorous review of test data, ingredient safety substantiation reports and ingredient concentrations. A VERIFIED evaluation consists of a thorough, three-month process to ensure a product meets our rigorous requirements for transparency and health.

Many personal care and household cleaning product ingredients are not listed on labels. The generic term “fragrance” is one example. Many consumers may not realize that the U.S. government doesn’t review the safety of ingredients used in personal care or cleaning products before they go on the market. The EWG VERIFIED program helps nudge companies to disclose more ingredients and use less hazardous ingredients.

An EWG VERIFIED mark on a product means the the product goes above and beyond its green rating in EWG’s Skin Deep or EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning, because the company has disclosed more about its formulations and manufacturing processes.

It is important to EWG that all companies, regardless of size, can participate in the VERIFIED program, so we offer discounted rates, waived fees, or both.

EWG’s resources

EWG scientists have also researched and helped develop simple tip sheets for consumers concerned about the ingredients in their personal care and cleaning products, bug repellents and more. These are available for free here.

For decades, EWG has fought to protect public health and eliminate the public’s exposure to toxic and concerning chemicals in cosmetics, consumer products and drinking water. As part of that mission, EWG has developed free and publicly available consumer resources such as Skin Deep, launched in 2004, spotlighting products that disclose their ingredients and avoid the use of concerning chemicals.

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