Unilever to Disclose Some (but not all) AXE and Other Fragrance Ingredients

Unilever, the company responsible for making disabling products like AXE (aka LYNX) has announced they will be expanding their product ingredient lists  to include fragrance ingredients above 0.01 percent (100 parts per million) in a product’s formulation (via the SmartLabel app, but not on the actual labels *)

Here’s what we need to know:

* 20 parts per million (ppm) is the FDA’s standard for ‘gluten-free’ *

Which means that people who are allergic or “sensitive” can suffer serious and life threatening effects from substances at well below 100 ppm, and we still won’t know what is causing the symptoms, or what we need to avoid to stay alive.

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This plan may help people who aren’t knowingly or immediately affected by fragrance exposures to choose their products more wisely, but it doesn’t go nearly far enough to help those of us who are disabled by or have life threatening reactions to their products.

Edited to add:

Unilever’s fragrance transparency is a major green-wash at 100 ppm, when gluten-free has to be below 20 ppm, and people with isothiazolinone (aka MI) allergy react to as little as 3 ppm, perhaps less.

Also,  long-term health limit for fumes from dry-cleaning solvents has dropped from 20 parts per billion to an infinitesimal 2 parts per billion because long-term exposure to even very low concentrations can result in cancer, as well as fetal development problems for pregnant women.

Other interesting tidbits about Unilever:


“We are developing technologies that help us do more with less. For example, we have introduced a technique called ‘encapsulation’, which holds the fragrance in the product until it is used, when a trigger – like moisture, daylight, heat or friction – releases it. This means that when you take a shirt out of your wardrobe, it still smells fresh and clean, even though it may have been washed weeks before.”

I wonder if they will also disclose the ingredients used to encapsulate the fragrance ingredients that make them longer lasting?  Or if they will also be developing any methods to remove all traces of their products for those of us who suffer debilitating adverse effects from them?

Some of the news reports about adverse effects caused by exposures to AXE

“It is news when said inappropriate Axe use causes a school-wide shutdown.

Eight students were hospitalized, and two others were taken to their own doctors, after someone released the especially pungent body spray in a sixth grade classroom at 1 p.m. Emergency crews rushed to Medgar Evers College Preparatory School in Brooklyn to investigate the “hazardous” smell.

This isn’t the first time Axe body spray has terrorized educational facilities.

A Pennsylvania high school had to ban the spray in March after a student was hospitalized after exposure to its fumes. A year earlier, Connecticut high school officials said that a fire alarm went off after a student’s “overabundance” of Axe spraying in a locker room.” ~ TIME magazine

“According to the official complaint, J.Z. has never suffered an anaphylactic reaction outside of the school grounds and “can tolerate exposure to the normal scents found in contemporary American society, and reacts only to freshly sprayed perfumes, colognes, and body sprays (such as Axe) lingering in the air.” ~ abc NEWS 2010

Freedom High School student allergic to Axe body spray to be home-schooled
http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/bethlehem/index.ssf/2013/03/freedom_student_allergic_to_ax.html

Airborne Anaphylaxis: My Son’s Fragrance Battle
http://allergicliving.com/2014/06/23/airborne-anaphylaxis-my-sons-fragrance-battle/

‘Proprietary Ingredients’ Should Not Come Before Children’s Health. Ever.
http://www.womensvoices.org/2016/04/29/proprietary-ingredients-should-not-come-before-childrens-health-ever/

Brandon’s family repeatedly asked Unilever to reveal the ingredients in AXE to figure out what was landing him in the hospital, and Unilever refused.

SO WHY IS UNILEVER DISCLOSING MORE INGREDIENTS NOW?

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and the Breast Cancer Fund ran a petition campaign asking Unilever to disclose the ingredients in AXE and their other products, and it was promoted by groups like U.S. PIRG, Women’s Voices for the Earth, STINK, among many others on facebook and elsewhere.

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Now, thanks in large part to the organizations mentioned above, and to everyone who signed the petitions,  Unilever is  revealing ingredients above 100 ppm, but since 20 parts per million (ppm) is the FDA standard for ‘gluten-free’,  this new disclosure policy may or may not help Brandon and many others find out what is nearly killing them/us.

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Unilever employs approximately 8,000 people in the United States – generating more than $9 billion in sales in 2016.

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The information will still NOT be on the labels, we will have to use a computer or wireless radiation emitting device to find out what ingredients they are revealing.

* About SmartLabel™

“The SmartLabel App, developed by the Grocery Manufacturers Association and available through the sponsorship of Unilever US, will work today with all of Unilever US’s participating products – totaling more than 1,700 products. Using the SmartLabel App on your smartphone you can scan a product’s UPC barcode to instantly open that product’s SmartLabel page on your mobile device.”

People can access SmartLabel and its information whether they are in the store, at home, or at work, by using a smartphone, tablet or desktop computer. There are several different ways to access SmartLabel:

Searching the web
Visiting our brand’s website
Using the SmartLabel Product Search
Scanning the UPC barcode with the SmartLabel App.

One more thing to know about Unilever

In 2016, Unilever bought out the Blueair air purifier company. When asked on Blueair’s  facebook page if these air purifiers removed all traces of AXE from the air, this was how they eventually responded:

Hi Linda! All our units ensure 5 air changes per hour when running on the maximum speed, which means that after one hour, the gas and odor levels will start to drop. The time it takes to get rid of all traces of perfume will depend on the amount of perfume dispersed, the type of unit and the filter used. To ensure the best efficiency for odor removal, choose an air purifier compatible with the size of your room and use a SmokeStop filter. Our SmokeStop filters have great efficiency against VOCs (gaseous pollutants) and PM2.5. You are very welcome to visit our “help me choose” tool or contact us for more info.”

Imagine having to inhale something for well over an hour, something that can disable you for for days if not weeks, or could land you in a hospital within minutes of a small exposure, before the levels start to drop. In other words, it’s not that helpful as an assistive device or to address accessibility barriers.

One might also wonder about conflicts of interest when a company that manufactures products that pollute the air and water, then sells products that filter some of the pollutants out.

Let’s keep up pressuring them until their products are actually safe!

P.S. If you are from Unilever and want to tell me that your products are safe and meet all regulations, then I invite you to send someone from upper management who can live in my slippers for a week.

And watch STINK if you haven’t already.

Watch via facebook:

or click HERE to watch STINK on VIMEO

Be fragrance-free! It’s good for you! It’s good for me!

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11 responses to “Unilever to Disclose Some (but not all) AXE and Other Fragrance Ingredients

  1. Great article! And we’ll made points! Had a look at the ingredients disclosed and very little that’s not on the label already. Axe/lynx should be banned it’s vile can’t believe anyone would voluntarily spray it on themselves – have we lost our minds and sense of smell completely! Find it especially hard as workmen seem to be pressurised to wear it and spray it before coming to fix things – scared of smelling like sweat! Have to wash everything touched after they leave as lynx stills like glue to everything…I believe companies already encapsulating ie in washing powder….just sniff a jogger who releases a toxic trail with ever step polluting parks and green spaces. Unilever need to be taken to task about the build up of ingredients from their products in our bodies and the allergic reactions. Even my groceries smell of it ..especially if shelf packers wear the stuff….keep up the great work !

  2. We definitely need to keep up the pressure to have ALL ingredients on the actual label AND banning all ingredients that are toxic either alone or used in conjunction with other ingredients. It saddens me that we live in a time when the health of our children especially (and all humans) is not a priority to so many. Ignorance is not bliss. Education is the key to freedom from toxic oppression. Thanks for putting all the time and effort into this post when I know how difficult it is to have MCS and do this much research. Wishing you (and everyone) fresh air and good health.

    • I saw so many people cheering about how great this initiative is… and I just knew there was a catch after they were denying dying people the info, so, I went to look up food allergy labeling laws and sure enough the limits are a lot lower (I was surprised they weren’t zero). After leaving comments on so many fb posts over the past days, it became easier to just put a post together here to refer people to.

      • That’s one of the problems, people are willing to be happy with a tiny concession. We all need to read the even tinier fine print of what they are not telling us.

        • With so much doublespeak and so many alternative facts, we really can’t trust many who are making money from something.
          I don’t remember how I learned to observe doublespeak or innuendo without projecting what I thought or wanted it to mean, but listening to exactly what the words did or didn’t say, and the omissions were more important than what was said, because many statements are crafted to be vague while they make people fill in the blanks and make assumptions in their own minds about what was said, when it wasn’t said at all, and there was never any intention of carrying out what they made people think they were going to do (does anyone know of any simple tutorials on that?)…

          • I don’t know any tutorials but a while ago I saw something where like every other letter was missing in the words of a paragraph and you could still read it. So I know what you mean. I don’t remember where I saw it though. We do the same thing filling in the “gaps” all the time when talking to people.

  3. I don’t get the “Smart Label” thing. All the ingredients should be ON the packaging. The consumer should not have to take extra steps to find out what the ingredients are. Also, I wonder about people with severe EMF sensitivity who can’t look things up on a computer. I agree that this is a good first step and much more needs to be done. So much more.

    • I remembered people talking about a proposal to put GMO ingredients online instead of on labels, and needing an app (and wireless device) when shopping, and when I looked this Unilever thing up, it was the Grocery Manufacturers Association’s app, the same group that had put so much effort and money into fighting GMO labeling. The high 100 ppm limit makes more sense in this light too… they are still trying to hide things that can and do have profound adverse effects on us.

  4. Also, Unilever should really take Axe off the market already! Disclosure will not help the fact that this stuff is really toxic.

  5. I have just been informed that 20 ppm is way too high for safety with many ingredients. For example, methylchloroisothiazolinone (MCI), a biocide/preservative, is also used as a fragrance ingredient. People with isothiazolinone allergy react to as little as 3 ppm, perhaps less.

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