Print this article
- 05/29/2017

SC Johnson Tops Industry with Skin Allergen Transparency

H&PC Today

Continuing its leadership in ingredient transparency, SC Johnson has announced that it will disclose the presence of 368 potential skin allergens that may occur in its products.

“For us, transparency is a matter of principle. We’re interested in helping people make the best choices for their families,” said Fisk Johnson, Chairman and CEO of SC Johnson. “Just like when we started listing preservatives, dyes and fragrances, we didn’t stop with the industry standard. We want to tell the whole story. This is just the next step we are taking in our journey to be more and more transparent.” Other companies use similar ingredients. SC Johnson considers it important to disclose these ingredients particularly for people with a pre-existing skin allergy.

SC Johnson has added the list of fragrance and non-fragrance skin allergens to its ingredient website, WhatsInsideSCJohnson.com, and by 2018, this website will also list skin allergens when contained in a product. This new transparency initiative goes beyond regulations in the European Union and also in the United States where there are no rules requiring allergen transparency.

“This is a groundbreaking disclosure of allergens in cleaning products from SC Johnson. By taking these steps, SC Johnson will help millions of consumers be smarter about chemicals in cleaning products that have the potential to cause allergic skin responses. And SC Johnson is once again raising the bar for other companies. This level of transparency is sweeping across other industries and is rapidly becoming the new normal for companies, like SC Johnson, who place a premium on giving consumers more, rather than less, ingredient information,” said Ken Cook, President and Co-Founder of Environmental Working Group.

“We understand that other companies might choose not to do the work to communicate low levels of potential skin allergens in their products. For SC Johnson, with our decades-long commitment to being more and more transparent, we are continuing on a path to provide more and more information to the people who buy our products so they can make choices that are best for them and their families,” said Johnson.

Developing a Comprehensive Skin Allergen List

To determine its comprehensive list of potential skin allergens, SC Johnson scientists analyzed more than 3,000 data sets from public and industry sources for potential skin allergens identified on country regulatory lists, fragrance industry lists, the European Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety reviews, dermatology clinic data and individual supplier safety data sheets. The company then shared its findings for validation with experts in the fields of dermatology, immuno-toxicology, fragrance toxicology and allergens.

The expert panel that validated the study methods includes:

  • David Basketter, D.Sc., independent consultant and recognized international expert on allergy; former Director of Safety Research, Unilever 
  • David Bickers, M.D., Chairman, Department of Dermatology, Columbia University 
  • Peter Cadby, Ph.D., former Head of Product Safety at Firmenich 
  • Axel Schnuch, M.D., University of Göttingen; retired Head of IVDK (Information Network of Departments of Dermatology) 
  • Peter Thorne, Ph.D., Head of Department of Occupational & Environmental Health, University of Iowa; Director of Environmental Health Sciences Research Center

Currently, the consumer goods industry uses 3,000 fragrance ingredients published by the International Fragrance Association. However, in 2012, SC Johnson took the review of fragrance ingredients a step further with the creation of its Exclusive Fragrance Palette that narrowed the acceptable fragrance ingredients from 3,000 to approximately 1,300 used in SC Johnson products.

SC Johnson’s Skin Allergen Disclosure

The 368 ingredients that are potential skin allergens can be found here.

By 2018, SC Johnson will add potential skin allergens to the list of ingredients when contained in a product on its WhatsInsideSCJohnson.com website. The company’s worldwide ingredient disclosure program is currently active in more than 30 countries in North America and Europe, with rollout efforts underway for Asia and Latin America.

Allergens & Allergic Reactions

A skin allergen is a substance that the immune system recognizes as a threat and attacks. The presence of a potential skin allergen does not mean, however, that it will automatically cause a person to develop a skin allergy or a skin allergy reaction. What matters is the dose or the amount of exposure: the general consensus among the scientific community is that a dose of less than 0.01 percent is unlikely to cause a reaction for most skin allergens in rinse-off products. This new transparency initiative will disclose potential skin allergens down to 0.01 percent, the same standard as the European Union.

Skin allergies can be created or induced when a non-sensitized person is exposed to an allergen over time and above a certain minimum dose. This is called “induction.” After a person develops a skin allergy to a given substance, they may have a reaction like redness or a rash. This is called “elicitation” and occurs even when coming into contact with that substance at a lower level or from a different source. SC Johnson takes care to use ingredients with potential skin allergens only in amounts so low that it would be highly unlikely to create a new skin allergy or trigger a skin allergy reaction.

SC Johnson reviewed both natural and synthetic skin allergens in its products. In many cases, naturals can have more skin allergens than synthetics.

SC Johnson’s History of Transparency Leadership

SC Johnson’s transparency legacy includes many important milestones:

  • 2009: Launched U.S. ingredient disclosure program, followed soon after by Canada.
  • 2012: Published Exclusive Fragrance Palette, the complete list of approved fragrance ingredients for SC Johnson products.
  • 2014: Published list of ingredient restrictions, increasing transparency on how SC Johnson makes ingredient choices.
  • 2015: Began rolling out product-specific fragrance disclosure, sharing more than 99.9 percent of ingredients in most product formulas.
  • 2016: Launched Glade® Fresh Citrus Blossoms collection with 100 percent fragrance transparency.
  • 2016: Launched European ingredient transparency program at WhatsInsideSCJohnson.com

Today, the company’s WhatsInsideSCJohnson.com website provides easy-to-understand lists of ingredients for SC Johnson products in more than 20 languages.