Procter & Gamble reformulates Herbal Essences to reduce ‘toxic’ chemicals

By Katie Nichol

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Herbal essences, Cosmetics, Personal care

Procter & Gamble is reformulating its Herbal Essences range to reduce the concentration of 1,4-dioxane in the products, according to a preliminary agreement between P&G and environmentalist David Steinman.

According to The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, the consumer products giant agreed to reformulate the hair care products after Steinman, founder of the Green Patriot Working Group, filed a notice of intent to sue in California.


1,4-dioxane is a contaminant produced during the manufacturing process of some personal care products such as shampoos, liquid soaps and bubble bath. It is generated through a process of ethoxylation; where ethylene oxide is added to other chemicals to make them less harsh.

Under the State of California’s toxic enforcement act, Proposition 65, 1.4 dioxane has been listed as chemical known to cause cancer

However, as the ingredient is considered a contaminant rather than an ingredient by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it is not required to be listed on personal care product labels.

Tests of 1,4 dioxane levels conducted by Steinman on a Herbal Essences shampoo revealed it contained 24 parts per million (ppm).

According to The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, prior legal actions relating to 1,4 dioxane in the state of California indicated that under Proposition 65, the actionable level is above 10 ppm.

According to Procter & Gamble, 10 ppm is not a regulatory requirement.

"To our knowledge, there has been no action taken by the CA Office of the Environmental Health Hazard assessment (OEHHA - the company responsible for implementation of Prop 65) to change the Prop 65 regulation to equate to an in-product exposure level of 10 ppm,"​ Jennifer Chelune, of P&G corporate external relations told USA.

Reformulation in progress

Although P&G has agreed to reformulate the Herbal Essences range, the company believes its products are compliant with Californian regulations.

A letter of agreement about the reformulation from P&G’s attorneys, Nixon Peabody, stated, ‘the company believes that each of its products, including Herbal Essences branded products complies fully with California’s regulatory scheme’.

"Levels of 1,4 dioxane in current and previosuly marketed P&G products are below limits recognised as safe by numerous regulatory bodies around the world," ​reiterated Chelune.

Nevertheless, the letter stated that the a company-wide reformulation was underway to reduce the concentration of 1,4 dioxane to a level of 10ppm or below across all 18 Herbal Essences products.

This process involves changing supplier specifications and manufacturing methods, something which is currently being undertaken, the company claims.

All production for the reformulation of 17 of the 18 Herbal Essences formulae is expected to be achieved before July 1, 2010, with the entire process expected to be complete no later than the end of January 2011.

Related topics: Market Trends

Related news

Show more

Follow us


View more