When I was pregnant with my first daughter, I started researching environmental health concerns. I’m a journalist so my research became a book, co-authored with a close friend: The Complete Organic Pregnancy. Eight years, three more books, and a new four-month-old daughter later, I'm still alarmed by how many unsafe substances my girls—and all children—are exposed to daily. It upsets me how much is unknown. It's impossible to safeguard kids against the unknown.
If the press is to be believed, this is something the actress Halle Berry worries about, too. She's pregnant with her second child. During her first pregnancy, it was reported that she was interested in organics and was planning an eco-friendly nursery.
That's why I'm asking her, mom to mom, to use her considerable influence as a celebrity to help close a consumer health loophole that a lot of people don't even know about.
Fragrances—which are in everything from perfumes to lotions to diapers to food –are considered government protected trade secrets. This means that companies don't have to tell consumers which chemicals make up the "fragrance" on their product’s ingredient list. The word "fragrance" is a placeholder for unknown mixtures of potentially hundreds of chemicals.
The problem? Many of the undisclosed ingredients in any given fragrance have been linked in various studies to allergies, asthma, hormone disruption, and even cancer. In one study, one of Halle Berry's perfumes was found to contain several of these toxic chemicals.
Halle Berry has five perfumes in her name. Her latest fragrance, Closer, is up for a popular fragrance of the year award. I'm asking her, as another mom who cares about children's health and the environment, to set a trend by disclosing the individual ingredients in her perfumes. It would be great if Coty, Inc. stopped using potentially unsafe chemicals, but if they at least tell consumers what's in the Halle Berry perfumes, it's one less unknown for us parents. I hope it will inspire other fragrance manufacturers to be more transparent, too.
Congrats on your pregnancy and the success of your Closer fragrance this year!
If the press is to be believed, you were into organics for your first pregnancy; I was happy to read you said her nursery was going to be eco-friendly. So important. You’d think our government would be protecting kids, but it isn’t. There are a lot of product formulas that are considered government protected trade secrets--things we all use daily.
Maybe you don’t know what lurks in fragrance. Most people don’t. Maybe your fragrance company and business partner just rents your good name and profits from it--dragging you into this. Your trusting fans probably assume you personally curate your fragrances. I’m sure they’d be surprised to learn that the products contain undisclosed chemicals that could potentially harm them, including possibly allergens, asthmagens, hormone disrupters, and even carcinogens.
So here’s my ask: Will you buck the trend and become a trendsetter? Will you ask your business partner Coty, Inc. to publicly disclose the individual ingredients in your perfumes? If you did this, parents wouldn’t have to work against the unknown. I’m not even asking for Coty, Inc. to stop using potentially unsafe chemicals, though that would be incredible. I just want disclosure.
Full label disclosure would make a big difference in some households, or even day care centers. I know you care about children's health, and clean air for all of us. Can we count on you to disclose any allergens, asthmagens, hormone disrupters, and carcinogens in your fragrances? Please say yes.
I hope you’re feeling well.