FORMALDEHYDE AND FORMALDEHYDE-RELEASING PRESERVATIVES
Formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives (FRPs) are used in many personal care products, particularly in shampoos and liquid baby soaps. These chemicals, which help prevent microbes from growing in water-based products, can be absorbed through the skin and have been linked to cancer and allergic skin reactions.
FOUND IN: Nail polish, nail glue, eyelash glue, hair gel, hair-smoothing products, baby shampoo, body soap, body wash, color cosmetics.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR ON THE LABEL: Formaldehyde, quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, polyoxymethylene urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol (bromopol) and glyoxal.
WHAT IS FORMALDEHYDE? Formaldehyde is a colorless, strong-smelling gas used in a wide range of industries and products including building materials, walls, cabinets furniture and personal care products.
WHAT ARE FORMALDEHYDE-RELEASING PRESERVATIVES AND WHERE ARE THEY FOUND?In personal care products, formaldehyde can be added directly, or more often, it can be released from preservatives such as quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, polyoxymethylene urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, bromopol and glyoxal. MORE...
HEALTH CONCERNS: Cancer, skin irritation MORE...
VULNERABLE POPULATIONS: Infants, hair salon workers, nail salon workers.
REGULATIONS: Banned from use in cosmetics and toiletries in Japan and Sweden; in the EU, restricted in personal care products, and labeling is required in products that do contain these chemicals; concentration restrictions in Canada. The EU allows the use of Quaternium-15 up to 0.2% as a preservative in cosmetic products.
HOW TO AVOID: Read labels and avoid products containing the following ingredients: Formaldehyde, quaternium-15, dimethyl-dimethyl (DMDM) hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol (bromopol). In addition, choose nail products that are labeled formaldehyde-free or “toxic-trio-free” (formaldehyde, toluene and DBP). Skip hair-smoothing products—especially those sold in salons, as salon-based products are exempt from labeling laws. Don’t use expired cosmetic products or store cosmetic products in the sun because this can cause more formaldehyde to be released.