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Avon Will Remove Triclosan from Products – What Will Replace It?

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Even before the US Food and Drug Administration began mulling a rule late last year that would require companies to prove products containing the antimicrobial triclosan are both safe and effective, cosmetic makers were sending out press releases by the droves, announcing their intention to remove the chemical from product lines.

Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble and Colgate-Palmolive have been reformulating to rid their products of triclosan - a suspected endocrine disruptor - for two years now. Avon joined that list this week, announcing that it will begin phasing the chemical out of "the few" products in its line that include it.

As has been the case with other companies, Avon cites customer concern as its reason for reformulating, and has been tight-lipped about what will replace triclosan. "We are not going to use it in new products and the process is underway for identifying alternatives or changing formulations for the small number of existing products that had included triclosan among their ingredients," Avon spokeswoman, Jennifer Vargas, told the Guardian.

Triclosan's potential for hormone disruption (the science is strongest in support of its potential to disrupt thyroid function) is particularly problematic for Avon, which is arguably more visibly tied to pink-ribbon marketing and breast-cancer awareness than any other cosmetics company.

For it to lag behind Johnson & Johnson, whose commitment to phase out potentially carcinogenic chemicals (including phthalates, triclosan, parabens, and preservatives that release formaldehyde) is now considered the industry standard for product safety among major manufacturers, is a problematic counterbalance to its position as the cosmetics industry poster child for breast cancer awareness.    

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