Addressing misinformation on the internet regarding EWG’s rating systems

A recent viral social media post about a Bath & Body Works air freshener makes inaccurate and misleading claims about EWG’s product rating systems.

So let’s clear up a few things!

Companies can’t pay for better grades

Contrary to what the publication claims, EWG does not charge a fee for a product to be reviewed in our two Skin Deep® Cosmetic Database or our Guide to healthy cleansing.

Companies cannot pay to have a higher hazard score in EWG’s databases.

We do not recommend air fresheners

It’s unclear why the post in question associates EWG with a product that isn’t rated in our databases – and is Air Freshener, a category of products we’ve suggested for over a decade and consumers consider completely avoid.

EWG has already conducted air pollutant and indoor air quality testing after using air fresheners and other cleaning products, and we are currently conducting another round of product testing to understand how scented products can affect health.

Our work has always prioritized the protection of public health.

How Notes Work in Skin Deep and Guide to Healthy Cleansing

US law allows manufacturers of personal care and cleaning products to use almost any ingredient they wish, including known carcinogens and substances that can harm fetal and infant development. And the government does not review the safety of products before they are sold. To fill these gaps, EWG has developed its Skin Deep and Guide to healthy cleaning.

Skin Deep includes reviews for over 87,000 products from over 2,800 brands. To build it, our staff scientists compared nearly 9,900 ingredients on personal care product labels and websites to information from nearly 60 toxicity and regulatory databases.

The EWG Guide to Healthy Cleaning includes ratings for over 2,500 products from nearly 200 brands. Unlike manufacturers of cosmetics and personal care products, companies that make cleaning products are not required to list on the package, bottle or box the ingredients they put in their formulations. This lack of disclosure can make it nearly impossible for consumers to find the healthiest products, and it means that to construct the guide, EWG researchers had to look beyond labels.

We compared over 1,000 Ingredients listed on cleaning product labels, websites, and worker safety documents with information available in government, industry, and academic toxicity databases and in the scientific literature.

We make all of our ingredient and product reviews, rating methodology, and benchmarks publicly available.

You have questions. We have answers.

We’ve designed our consumer guides to help you uncover the hidden health hazards in your everyday food, water and products so you can make better decisions.

How EWG VERIFIED™ actually works

EWG VERIFIED is a licensing program where a company pays an evaluation fee for EWG scientists to review their product. If the product is approved, then the company pays a license fee to use the EWG VERIFIED mark on packaging and marketing materials.

The EWG VERIFIED mark is awarded only to products that meet our strict standards.

An EWG VERIFIED product is rated beyond what is listed on the ingredient label. For these products, our scientists conduct a rigorous review of test data, ingredient safety substantiation reports, and ingredient concentrations. A VERIFIED review is a thorough three-month process to ensure a product meets our rigorous transparency and health requirements.

Many ingredients in personal care and household cleaning products are not listed on the labels. The generic term “perfume” is an example. Many consumers may not realize that the US government does not review the safety of ingredients used in personal care or cleaning products before they are marketed. The EWG VERIFIED program helps companies disclose more ingredients and use less hazardous ingredients.

An EWG VERIFIED mark on a product means the product goes beyond its green rating in EWG’s Skin Deep or EWG’s Healthy Cleansing Guide because the company has disclosed more information about its formulations and manufacturing process.

In other words, the EWG VERIFIED mark moves products up Skin Deep or our Guide to healthy cleaning because a product meets our strict criteria, not because the company bought a better rating.

It is important to EWG that all companies, regardless of size, can participate in the VERIFIED program. So we offer discounted rates, waived fees or both.

EWG Resources

EWG scientists have also researched and helped develop simple tip sheets for consumers concerned about the ingredients in their personal care and cleaning products, insect repellents and more. These are available for free here.

For decades, EWG has fought to protect public health and eliminate public exposure to toxic chemicals of concern in cosmetics, consumer products, and drinking water. As part of this mission, EWG has developed free and publicly available mainstream resources such as Skin Deeplaunched in 2004, highlighting products that disclose their ingredients and avoid the use of chemicals of concern.

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