Update: In a time when everything from the weather to politics feels like one big guessing game, it's comforting to know that a few major corporations are making an effort to be more transparent with consumers — especially when it comes to what you're putting on your skin. Joining the roster of Target and Unilever, both of which promised to be more upfront about the ingredients lists on beauty products, Procter & Gamble — the company behind Olay, Herbal Essences, SK-II, and Pantene — announced a similar initiative.
By the end of 2019, P&G brands will post all fragrance ingredients across 2,000 products publicly, all the way down to the .01 percentile. "Our goal is to give people information that is clear, reliable and accessible," Kathy Fish, the company's chief technology officer, said in a press release. "We’re providing more information about fragrance ingredients because we believe this will build even greater trust in the quality and safety of all of our products."
It's great news for sensitive types... and pretty much anybody else who's wondered what on earth kind of scent goes inside an Herbal Essences shampoo to earn itself such an explosive response.
This story was originally published on February 9, 2017.
Let's be honest, trying to decipher an ingredients label on the back of a beauty product can be pretty damn overwhelming — unless you studied bio-chemistry in college, of course. (Pop quiz: What's the difference between isododecane and isohexadecane?) And, surprisingly, the most basic of the descriptors is actually the most puzzling: "fragrance." For years, beauty brands have used this word — which stands for another list of many, many ingredients — and the vague descriptor can cause serious problems for those with sensitive skin or allergies.
But according to WWD, Unilever — the behemoth beauty company that owns Dove, Suave, TRESemmé, Caress, and more — is rolling out a new transparency initiative that will change all that. By the end of the year, the company will be more forth-coming about what fragrance ingredients are in its products, listing them all via SmartLabel, a mobile app. Now, instead of the generic "fragrance" that's currently printed on most mass beauty items, you'll get a detailed description of every oil, extract, or chemical used to create the scent.
"The initiative goes beyond labeling requirements to provide in-depth product and ingredient information," a rep for the company said in a statement on Tuesday.
This kind of information is incredibly important to those who are sensitive or allergic to certain ingredients. Now, instead of having to avoid fragrances altogether in fear of a reaction, consumers can choose exactly what's right for them. Smells like progress to us.