As scientific evidence of the health risks associated with nanoparticle ingredients in cosmetics and sunscreens grows, a new survey shows that companies are reluctant to tell their own consumers about whether or not they use the controversial ingredients. Friends of the Earth today released the results of an anonymous consumer survey that it commissioned, surveying 140 sunscreen and cosmetics companies regarding their use of nanoparticles.

“For the parent of a child with sensitive or damaged skin, accurate information about sunscreen ingredients is essential”, said Friends of the Earth’s nanotechnology spokesperson Georgia Miller.

“Yet our survey found a high degree of industry secrecy, with several companies refusing outright to tell their customers whether or not they use nanoparticles.”

“Nearly half the companies included in our anonymous survey failed to give a straight answer about their use of nanoparticles, even after being told the person asking the questions used that company’s products and was concerned about health risks.”

“Clarins, M.A.C. Cosmetics, Tropicare and Skinceuticals refused explicitly to answer questions about whether their products contain nanoparticles.”

“Our survey also revealed problems in the reliability of company-provided information. Jurlique, a brand marketed as ‘natural’, told the consumer that its products do contain nanoparticles, having assured Friends of the Earth in a previous survey that its products are nano-free.”

“Many companies don’t even know whether or not their products contain nanoparticles. Australis, Cover Girl, Shiseido and Target said they didn’t know, or were unable to answer questions about the use of nanoparticles in their cosmetics”.

“The fact that big name brands do not have access to reliable information about the nano-content of their ingredients is alarming. Without this information these companies cannot take adequate measures to protect their workers from unsafe occupational exposure, or provide honest and accurate answers to the public.”

“Given the widespread use of nanoparticles in sunscreens and cosmetics, mandatory labelling of nano-ingredients is needed urgently to enable consumers and manufacturers to make informed choices”.