SCENTED TOYS, Tattoos, Body ArT & other cosmetics

SCENTED TOYS, Tattoos, Body ArT & other cosmetics
SCENTED TOYS, Tattoos, Body ArT & other cosmetics

For more than 30 years, Strawberry Shortcake has made her way into our homes in part because of her unique fruity scent.

Growing up I never thought twice about what made Strawberry Shortcake smell. But now I want to know. I've scrutinized its packaging on several occasions looking for a clue, but I could never find one because the "scented" ingredients marketed on the front of its packages aren't listed anywhere on the labels!

Considering the Strawberry Shortcake products I looked at were made in China (see image below) I'm going to assume they contain chemicals that aren't so healthy for our children to inhale, or put in their mouths.

But I'm just guessing, because I don't know for sure.

Because the ingredients aren't disclosed on the label.

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Even if Hasbro chooses to keep us in the dark about what makes up Strawberry Shortcake's unique scent, or fragrance, my friends at Women's Voices for the Earth (WVE) provide us with some insight with their in-depth report, Secret ScentsAccording to WVE, two to eleven percent of the general population is affected by a fragrance allergy, women are more susceptible than men, and children's fragrance allergies are quickly on the rise. Reactions include skin rashes, blisters, and bumps, as well as respiratory issues. WVE also mentions there are other possible health problems associated with the use of the term fragrance (including lowered immunity, and nervous system and respiratory issues), and more research is needed.

The term fragrance in the cosmetic world reminds me to the term artificial flavors in the food world – in both cases companies aren't required to disclose their ingredients in order to protect their proprietary formulas. Therefore, as consumers we never really know what we're getting.

It's time for Hasbro to provide consumers with full disclosure labeling. If they continue to hide the ingredients of their toys, we can only assume they have something to hide.


My kids LOVE temporary tattoos. They're fun, and I've even sported a couple myself. Looking at their ingredients you can see they are made with petroleum (listed as mineral oil (paraffinum) above and paraffin wax below), and synthetic dyes.

Below are the ingredients of Melissa & Doug's "My First Temporary Tattoos" for ages three and up:

I wouldn't want my three old putting these on her body.

An ingredient I want to mention here is isophorone. The reason it is in purple is because more research is needed to determine whether or not it is toxic to humans. That said, according to the EPA, isophorone is classified as a Group C, possible carcinogen. Current studies show that long term exposure via inhalation can cause dizziness, depression, and fatigue.

As David Pollock pointed out earlier, up to 60 percent of the chemicals we put on our skin are absorbed, and temporary tattoos are no exception. Temporary still means a day or several days so he recommends avoiding them.

A friend of mine recently told me his daughter went to a friend's birthday party and a portion of the entertainment included putting tattoos on all the kids. A few days after the party his wife tried to remove it but it wouldn't come off. According to my friend, his daughter's tattoo lasted two weeks! He said it was the last time he would allow his daughter to put temporary tattoos on her skin.

Body Art

Totally Me! is another Toys "R" Us private label brand. Like tm!, you can see this airbrush tattoo kit contains dangerous chemicals like parabens, and synthetic dyes.

Snazaroo's Face Painting Sticks are easy to use and make face painting fun! Snazaroo's website states its products are non-toxic and fragrance-free. However, it still contains petroleum (paraffin liquidum) and synthetic dyes so take note if you are trying to avoid these ingredients. Petroleum, when used in cosmetics can clog pores so it is especially important to avoid putting it on your skin if you are prone to acne and rosacea.


Below are examples of different cosmetic brands sold at Toys "R' Us. They all contain parabens, phthalates and/or synthetic dyes. One of them even contains an artificial sweetener!

Barbie Lip Gloss
According the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep database, sorbic acid has been linked to allergies, octocrylene has been shown to alter cells in our bodies, and phenoxyethanol can cause skin, eyes and lungs irritation, and possibly organ system toxicity.

Disney Lip Gloss
In addition to petroleum, phthalates, parabens and the preservative BHT,  this Disney Lip Gloss set contains sodium saccharin, an artificial sweetener!!  Sodium saccharin is used as a flavoring agent in food, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics. In this case it is most probably added to mask the taste of other less-than-favorable flavors. According to the National Cancer Institute, the U.S. National Toxicology Program de-listed saccharin as a potential human carcinogen in 2000. Even so I still prefer NOT to give it to my children (early studies in rats showed a link to urinary bladder cancer).

My concern about having sodium saccharin added to this, and other similar products, is that it encourages our kids to lick their lips more often because it tastes sweet. Personally I don't allow my children to ingest artificial sweeteners, and to be honest, I was surprised to see it listed in the ingredients. (For more information on why I avoid artificial sweeteners, you can check out our Scary Seven list of ingredients to avoid.)

Glitter Nail Art
This Glitter Nail Art Kit contains more of the same harsh chemicals found in the other products pictured above. One ingredient I would like to bring to your attention is DMDM hydantoin. In this product, DMDM hydantoin is used to prevent bacteria from growing in the bottle of the clear nail polish.

The issue with this antimicrobial preservative is that it releases formaldehyde which has been linked to allergic reactions and cancer. Formaldehyde is a known human carcinogen, and according to The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, can cause issues for people when inhaled or absorbed through the skin even at low levels. When buying cosmetics look for products that state they are "formaldehyde free." If you see any of the following on a label, it means it contains formaldehyde or formaldehyde releasing ingredients: formaldehyde, quaternium-15, dimethyl-dimethyl (DMDM) hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol (bromopol).

If you live in Canada, the Canadian government does require companies to list the ingredients on cosmetic products. Health Canada created a cosmetic ingredients hotlist of chemicals prohibited or restricted for use in cosmetics. This isn't the case yet on a national level in the U.S. but several states, including California and Washington, have implemented laws governing the use of chemical ingredients, and labeling requirements for cosmetics.

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Andrea Donsky, RHN
Andrea Donsky, B. COMM is an international TV Health Expert, Best Selling Author, Nutritionist Podcast Host, and Founder of—a recipient of Healthline’s Best Healthy Living Blogs for 2019. As a pioneer and visionary in the health food industry, Andrea’s passion is to inspire people to make healthier choices. Andrea has combined her background and expertise as both a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and an entrepreneur ("She Boss!") to educate the public on living a healthy lifestyle through the creation of her businesses, books, articles, podcasts, videos, talks, and TV and radio media appearances. Andrea founded Naturally Savvy Media Inc. in 2007 in order to share her passion for healthy living, and love for natural products and companies. Among her numerous publications, Andrea co-authored Unjunk your Junk Food published by Simon and Schuster, a book that journalist, author and mother Maria Shriver endorsed: “Unjunk Your Junk Food has certainly made me more aware about the food that my children eat and the effects it has on our body and mind."</P. Andrea also co-authored two e-books entitled Label Lessons: Your Guide To A Healthy Shopping Cart, and Label Lessons: Unjunk Your Kid’s Lunch Box.