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Avon to phase out triclosan

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Avon Products, Inc., a beauty brand that is celebrating 125 years in the marketplace, has announced that it will phase out triclosan, a hormone-disrupting chemical often used as a preservative for its antimicrobial properties. Consumer advocacy group Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is hailing the move.

"Avon has made a decision to phase out triclosan from our cosmetic and personal care products," the company announced in its corporate responsibility report. "We have made this decision based on the preferences expressed by some of our customers for products without triclosan." The company further states, "We are no longer using triclosan in new product development, and have begun replacing it in existing products [...] only a small number of products are affected by these actions."

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, which has led consumer efforts to reform product formulations, cites peer-reviewed, published scientific evidence on its web page about the dangers posed by triclosan. Triclosan is attracted to fat cells and can accumulate in human tissue, persisting for years. It has been identified as an endocrine (hormone) disruptor, with effects on androgen, estrogen, and thyroid hormone functioning. Moreover, the FDA has recently announced that there is no evidence to support its claims of superior microbe-fighting power when compared to soaps and body washes that do not include it.

Given the abundance of scientific evidence for the role of triclosan in a wide variety of harms -- from promoting breast cancer to speeding the development of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria -- Avon's decision comes not a moment too soon.