EWG Verified® Takes Aim at Toxic Ingredients in Consumer Products (2024)

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About the Program

What is the EWG Verified® program?

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EWG Verified® is a trademark licensing program that follows a published set of health standards independently developed by EWG's research team. EWG Verified is a mark consumers can trust. The program is grounded in science and backed by EWG’s decades of expertise assessing consumer products for health and safety.

With thousands of products on the market, it can be overwhelming to know which ones are safer and healthier for your family. The EWG Verified mark lets consumers make healthy purchasing choices more easily. When consumers search product aisles for the EWG Verified mark, they know that products bearing it are free from EWG's chemicals of concern and meet our strictest criteria for transparency and healthfulness.

What Is EWG Verified: Personal Care Products?

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EWG Verified for personal care takes EWG's widely acclaimed Skin Deep® rating system one step further by requiring companies to submit significantly more detailed information to confirm they avoid ingredients that authoritative health bodies have flagged for potential health concerns; fully disclose their ingredients to consumers; ensure their products are adequately preserved and free of contaminants; and follow good manufacturing practices.

To be authorized to use the EWG Verified mark, a personal care product company must meet all our rigorous criteria and provide additional information not typically found on the product label – an effort to drive the market toward greater transparency.

Why should my company get our product(s) EWG Verified?

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If your values align with EWG’s, and you are committed to creating safer products with greater transparency, this program allows you to convey that your products meet EWG's strictest criteria, setting your products apart from others on the market. Specifically, the EWG Verified mark helps to:

  • highlight quickly and easily that your product meets EWG's strictest standards, which makes healthier shopping decisions easier for consumers.
  • demonstrate that your company’s values align with EWG’s in their commitment to using better ingredients and dedication to transparency.
  • move the market toward safer, more transparent products.
  • support EWG’s groundbreaking research.

In addition, your product will be highlighted on EWG's Skin Deep® website and on www.ewg.org/EWGVERIFIED as an EWG Verified product.

Where does revenue from the EWG Verified program go?

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Revenue generated by EWG Verified helps EWG assess whether products qualify for the program and ensures that EWG is able to continue its critical research and distribute it to consumers and beyond. EWG's research gives consumers access to the information they need to make smarter choices and push policymakers to strengthen weak and outdated regulations. EWG works continually to keep its research, consumer guides and databases up to date and accurate.

Will EWG Verified expand beyond personal care products?

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Yes. EWG Verified will continue to expand to other household products. We started with personal care products and have already expanded to household cleaners and diapers. Our goal is to develop the program to help people make healthier purchasing decisions in all aspects of their lives.

Criteria and Submission Questions

I represent a cosmetics company interested in having the EWG Verified mark on our products. How do I begin?

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The entire process, along with the criteria and required documentation, is described here. If you have any questions, please contact [emailprotected]

How does EWG determine whether a personal care product qualifies for the EWG Verified mark?

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EWG developed a strict set of criteria to evaluate which products are eligible for the EWG Verified mark. In the case of personal care products, the criteria include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Products must score green in EWG's Skin Deep database.
  • Products cannot contain any ingredients on EWG's "Unacceptable" list.
  • Products cannot contain any ingredients on EWG's "Restricted" list that do not meet the restrictions set by authoritative bodies and industry institutions.
  • Products must follow standard ingredient-naming guidelines.
  • Product labels must fully disclose all ingredients, including those used in fragrance.
  • Products must pass initial basic microbial challenge tests and repeat these tests as appropriate.

The complete criteria can be downloaded here.

What types of cosmetics or personal care products are eligible for the EWG Verified mark? Are there product types that are not eligible?

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Products in any of these product categories may be eligible for the EWG Verified mark:

  • baby products
  • hair products
  • makeup
  • nail products
  • skin products (including moisturizers and lip balms with SPF)
  • oral care products, including toothpaste and mouthwash.

See the complete list of eligible product types in the criteria document here.

Some product categories are not currently eligible for the EWG Verified mark. They are outlined in the full criteria document here.

Are all SPF products, including sunscreens, eligible for EWG Verified?

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Yes. Recreational sunscreens as well as certain personal care products that provide sun protection, such as moisturizers and lip balms with SPF, are eligible for EWG Verified.

Does EWG Verified account for the efficacy of SPF products?

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Yes. With the launch of EWG Verified sunscreens, our standards now address key performance efficacy gaps in recreational sunscreen products. SPF products are now evaluated for their protection against ultraviolet rays.

Where can I find EWG's "Unacceptable" list of ingredients for personal care products?

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EWG compiled a list of "Unacceptable" ingredients for personal care products based on a variety of health, ecotoxicity and/or contamination concerns. The complete list can be downloaded here.

Where I can find EWG's "Restricted" list of ingredients and the associated restrictions for personal care products?

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EWG's "Restricted" list for personal care products is based on restrictions set by authoritative and industry bodies. The restrictions include, but are not limited to, concentration, use and contamination. The full list can be downloaded here.

Where can I find the full set of criteria used to determine eligibility for the EWG Verified program?

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The complete criteria for personal care products eligibility can be downloaded here.

Does EWG conduct audits of products to make sure they continue to meet the criteria?

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The EWG Verified mark is valid for up to three years only. Once that period elapses, a company must resubmit its product information anew and complete the verification process if it wants to keep the mark on its product.

In addition, EWG reserves the right to test products carrying the mark at any time to ensure they meet our strictest standards, as outlined in the EWG Verified criteria.

EWG's Skin Deep® Database

What Is Skin Deep?

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Launched in 2004, EWG's Skin Deep database is an online guide for cosmetics and other personal care products that consumers use to find products with fewer ingredients that are potentially hazardous or haven't been thoroughly tested. Skin Deep combines product ingredient lists with information from more than 50 standard toxicity and regulatory databases to calculate a score for each product and ingredient.

The database provides easy-to-navigate hazard ratings for tens of thousands of personal care products. For more information about Skin Deep, visit https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/.

See https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/site/about.php to find out how products are scored.

How does EWG Verified differ from Skin Deep? Does this program make Skin Deep obsolete?

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EWG's Skin Deep is here to stay and will remain an important tool for consumers, as well as serving as the basis for EWG Verified.

Skin Deep is an educational tool for consumers that rates personal care products based on their ingredients. EWG Verified goes one step further by requiring companies to submit additional information that is not available on product labels. The EWG Verified program also offers an easily recognizable mark for companies to use on their products at point of sale to help them easily identify products that meet EWG's strict criteria.

Company Questions

How much does it cost to get EWG Verified?

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EWG Verified is a trademark licensing program that follows a published set of health standards independently developed by EWG's research team. The program, currently available in the personal care and cosmetics, household cleaners and baby diaper categories, is designed to facilitate participation by companies of all sizes and stages of development.

Costs for participation vary widely, generally on a sliding scale, based on factors such as company size and stage of development. Typical fees include an application fee, and annual licensing fee.

Revenue generated by the EWG Verified licensing program helps to support the assessment process necessary to determine whether products meet EWG's health standards. It also helps ensure that as a nonprofit, EWG can continue its critical research and mission.

Please email [emailprotected] with any questions or to learn more.

Where can the EWG Verified mark be displayed?

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The EWG Verified mark can be displayed on:

  • product labeling and packaging
  • company websites
  • sales and promotional materials

How long does the verification process take?

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The time required for completing the EWG verification process varies. It depends in part on the number of products being submitted and the potential need for additional documentation. Once you have submitted a complete application, allow two to four weeks for processing and completing the initial review.

If my company's product is approved for the EWG Verified program, how long is the mark valid?

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The EWG Verified mark is valid for up to three years. If your company wants to maintain the mark beyond that time, you have to resubmit your product for verification.

If I want the EWG Verified mark on my product, do I need to submit it to Skin Deep first?

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No. As part of the verification process, companies explicitly allow EWG to upload their product information to the Skin Deep database to verify that the product scores in the green range. There is no need to submit the information to Skin Deep first.

I have many products that score green on Skin Deep. Why aren't they automatically eligible for EWG's mark?

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A green score is only one component of EWG's verification criteria. There are other reasons your products might not qualify for the EWG Verified mark. For example, they may fall into a category that is ineligible for verification.

The complete set of criteria used to determine whether a product is eligible for EWG's verification program can be found here.

If you have additional questions about your product's eligibility, please contact [emailprotected].

My product contains a restricted ingredient. How do I prove it meets the restrictions?

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If your product contains a restricted ingredient, you will be prompted by EWG to submit documentation proving you comply with the restriction. If you have further questions, contact [emailprotected].

My company reformulated a product that had the EWG Verified mark on it. Do we need to go through the verification process again?

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Yes. The EWG Verified mark on a product is specific to that formulation. If the formulation changes, your company must resubmit the product for verification. If you have further questions, contact [emailprotected].

I have a product whose formulation includes a proprietary ingredient. Is it eligible for the EWG Verified mark?

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No. One of the criteria of EWG's verification is complete ingredient disclosure. To be eligible for the EWG Verified mark, manufacturers must disclose all ingredients on the product’s label and website.

How often does EWG review and update the criteria and "Unacceptable" and "Restricted" ingredient lists? What happens if a change affects my product's compliance with EWG's program?

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EWG reviews and updates the criteria and "Unacceptable" and "Restricted" lists once a year to reflect the latest in science, regulations and other relevant considerations. If changes are made to these lists that affect a product's compliance, companies have 18 months to make the necessary changes to the formulation and packaging or to submit the appropriate substantiating documentation. After the 18-month period, companies may no longer manufacture or distribute products with the EWG Verified mark that do not comply with the new "Unacceptable" or "Restricted" lists.

My product is no longer in the eligible score range for EWG Verified. What do I do?

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EWG conducts an annual science and criteria update and review. During this time, we may add new references and findings to ensure that ingredient and product scores reflect the latest scientific understanding. If, because of this update, your product's score increased to something outside eligible scoring range for the VERIFIED program, it will no longer be in compliance with the EWG Verified criteria. Should this happen, EWG will notify you of this status change and you will have 18 months either to reformulate and resubmit your product to regain compliance or to remove the EWG Verified mark from your product packaging and associated materials.

Not all of the ingredients in my products score green. Is it still eligible for EWG Verified?

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Yes. For a product to be eligible for EWG Verified, the overall product score must be green, scoring below our hazard threshold. Depending on the specific ingredients, it is very possible to have green-scoring product with ingredients that are outside of the green range.

Are there EWG Verified products with yellow-scoring ingredients?

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Yes. To achieve verification, products must score below our threshold for hazard concerns, and companies must demonstrate that their ingredients and products meet all of EWG’s strict criteria. Depending on several factors, including the number of ingredients and the hazards associated with them, it is possible for the overall formulation to be verifiable with a yellow-scoring ingredient.

Are there third-party certifiers for EWG Verified or EWG Reviewed for Science?

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No. We are aware of misleading statements from third parties providing services to assess and review formulations against leading safety standards including EWG Verified standards. EWG does not use or have accredited third party organizations for our EWG Verified or EWG Reviewed for Science programs, and our science, standards and algorithms are continually being updated. For brands and formulators seeking adherence to EWG’s strictest standards, whether seeking certification or Skin Deep score improvement, our EWG Reviewed for Science consultancy program is the safest option to ensure compliance.

How To Contact Us

I have additional questions and/or comments. How do I submit them?

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Consumers: [emailprotected]

Cosmetics companies: [emailprotected]

EWG Verified® Takes Aim at Toxic Ingredients in Consumer Products (2024)
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