Sunday, December 16, 2012

Take a Whiff of This
Consumer Reports ShopSmart(SM)

We tested eight fragrances to check for phthalates. Five of them are top sellers from some of the largest perfume manufacturers, including Celine Dion Parfums Eau de Toilette Spray by Coty, Clinique Happy Perfume Spray, Elizabeth Taylor White Diamonds Eau de Parfum, Estée Lauder Beautiful Eau de Parfum Spray, and Liz Claiborne Curve Eau de Toilette Spray. Here's what else we tested and our surprising findings:

* All the fragrances we tested contained at least these two phthalates: Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), which is banned in cosmetics in Europe, and diethyl phthalate (DEP), which is not banned and was present in much larger amounts. Our findings seem counter to a fragrance-industry survey that reported DEHP use is down to zero.

* Two products--Aubrey Organics Jade Spice Eau de Parfum and Aveda Love Pure-Fume Essence--went into the test group because the companies say they don't contain any phthalates. But we found DEP, DEHP, and diisodecyl phthalate (DIDP) in the Aubrey Organics product. Aveda's perfume contained DEP and DEHP.

* Estée Lauder says that DEP is the only phthalate used in any of its products, but we found DEHP along with DEP in Estée Lauder Beautiful and its Clinique Happy. (The company also owns Aveda.) A Liz Claiborne representative told us that none of its products contains DEHP, but we found that chemical--plus DEP--in Liz Claiborne Curve.

* We tested Christian Dior Poison Eau de Toilette Spray because in 2002, tests by the Environmental Working Group, Health Care Without Harm, and Women's Voices for the Earth found that it had four types of phthalates, more than any of the other 16 fragrances tested. The 2002 study found DEP, DEHP, dibutyl phthalate (DBP), and benzyl butlyl phthalate (BBP) but our tests showed only DEP and DEHP.

* We bought Happy, Poison, and Beautiful in both the U.S. and Europe, and found the E.U.-banned phthalate DEHP in all the samples.

* No fragrances mentioned phthalates on their labels. But by law, they can list the word "fragrance" without citing any of its components, including phthalates.

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