Misleading marketing claims: Children’s products commonly bear claims like gentle and natural that are at odds with harsh, synthetic ingredients in the product.

  • Manufacturers are not required to substantiate marketing and label claims, and, consequently, parents cannot necessarily trust that claims are true. Our analysis shows that 19% of children’s products are labeled “natural,” 9% are “recommended” or “tested” by a doctor, pediatrician, dermatologist, or ophthalmologist, and 6% are labeled “safe.” According to FDA, companies can use marketing terms such as these “to mean anything or nothing at all” (FDA 2000).
  • 35% of all children’s products marked as “natural” on the label are not fully natural at all, but contain one or more artificial preservatives linked to allergic reactions, hormone disruption, or nervous system problems in laboratory studies.
  • 80% of children’s products marked as gentle and non-irritating (gentle, soothing, non-irritating, dermatologist approved, or free of harsh ingredients) instead contain ingredients linked to allergies and skin or eye irritation according to government and industry sources. Some manufacturers warn parents of children’s risks for allergies, including Johnson & Johnson, which includes warnings on some baby vapor bath and cream products that serious breathing problems could occur even when the products are used as directed.
  • 54% of children’s products marked as safe and non-toxic contain one or more of 20 top ingredients of concern* in children’s products, including chemicals linked to allergies, nervous system problems, cancer, reproductive risks, and hormone disruption.

Many children’s products contain potentially hazardous ingredients that contradict label claims


FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration). 2000. Clearing Up Cosmetic Confusion. FDA Consumer, May – June 1998; Revised May 1998 and August 2000. http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/fdconfus.html

* Top 20 ingredients of concern identified by EWG: 2-Bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol, BHA, DMDM hydantoin, oxybenzone, triclosan, boric acid (and sodium borate), dibutyl phthalate, toluene, fragrance, dyes, fluoride, ceteareth and PEG compounds, parabens, triethanolamine (TEA), benzyl and isopropyl alcohol, methylchloroisothiazolinone and methylisothiazolinone, iodopropynyl butylcarbamate.