Monday, 22 August 2011

Skincare Chemicals to Avoid: Formaldehyde

  Today I will talk about a  toxic chemical called Formaldehyde. It is a colourless gas with a very strong odour. Despite being toxic, formaldehyde is widely used because of its low cost. It is used for things like pressed wood items, furniture, wall paneling, counter tops, permanent press fabrics, glues and adhesives. It can also be used to kill germs and as a preservative, and can therefore be found in skincare products.
 Formaldehyde is considered to be a cancerogen by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and United States Environmental Protection Agency. A recent study from the National Cancer Institute found that industrial workers who were at the highest levels of exposure of formaldehyde were several times more likely to develop various cancers. 
 You may think: how on earth can they manage to squeeze such a toxic chemical into skincare products? Well, somehow, they do. Formaldehyde is widely used in products like nail polish, due to its adhering properties. That stuff goes on our nails and stays on for days. Even more worryingly, a recent survey by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics reported that the majority of children's bath products contained traces of the chemical. Formaldehyde is present in the currently fashionable Brazilian Ceratin treatment, or Brazilian Blowout: a hair treatment aimed at taming unruly curly hair. Many women undergoing the treatment have complained eye and skin irritation, which is similar to the response to formaldehyde. You have to wear a gas mask and gloves for the treatment (see pic below!) which is not usually necessary when dealing with non-toxic ingredients. Administering the treatment also puts the salon workers at risk of increased exposure to the chemical. What is wrong with nice curly hair?!  
  You may think, well it's ok, I have checked the ingredients lists of my favourite products and they do not say 'formaldehyde' on them. The annoying thing about this chemical is that it has over 28 different names, making it hard to identify on labels. Examples of formaldehyde/formaldehyde-releasing chemicals are:

Dowicil 75; Dowicil 100; Dowco 184; Dowicide Q; 1-(3-Chloroallyl)-3,5,7-triaza-1-azoniaadamantane chloride; N-(3-chloroallyl) hexaminium chloride; hexamethylenetetramine chloroallyl chloride; 3,5,7-triaza-1-azoniaadamantane; 1-(3-chloroallyl)-chloride, DMDM-Hydantoin (especially present in shampoos:avoid!!), quaternium-15; diazolidinyl urea;  imidiazolidinyl urea (or Germall II); butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)(may be formaldehyde-releasing, present in lots of skincare)

  This makes it slightly more difficult to know how to avoid this toxic chemical. My advice is that if you see an ingredient on the list of some product and it looks suspicious, it is safer to check it out in case it is formaldehyde-releasing chemical. In terms of nail polish, there are numerous brands that pride themselves in not using formaldehyde and some other toxic chemicals in their colours (e.g. Priti, Zoya, Scotch), and explicitly say they are formaldehyde-free. They are just as good as any other nail polish brand. 
 Have you had any experience in finding out about formaldehyde being present in the most unexpected products? Please share!


  1. Right,here I find it even on toothpaste!!(i post it on my blog)...Isn't that so nasty?Even in the name of profit,the company shouldn't do that!I mean,we ingest it without noticing it!!
    Find this blog from hayley's blog.Nice,we have a common interest in safe cosmetic:) I follow you:)
    Visit mine if you don't mind..

  2. Oh no, that's horrible! What toothpaste is that? That's the one thing that I haven't gotten to cleaning up!
    Thanks for following! Hope you find it informative. Just had a look at your blog, its really nice! I will also follow! :)

  3. Ugh,I wish I can tell you here the brand.It's made by a multinational company.The crazy thing about law here in Indonesia is that if someone feel you making their name bad(by saying that they're bad),they can sue you on court.Last time we have this lady,Prita mulyasari whom sent e-mail to her friends and her friends forwarded her e-mail.Her e-mail was about her complaint of a hospital here who missdiagnosed her or things like that(I forget what exactly is).The hospital then sued Prita,put her in jail PLUS a fine worth appr.USD 22,000!! People symphatized her and donated her by collecting coins called"coin for prita"as the symbol of solidarity against"unfair"law.Maybe this sounds crazy for you,but that's what happens.And..thats why I don't want to review companies who have their products marketed here.About that company who makes that toothpaste here,it's a multinational company.That company bought small companies all over the world and bring it under one label.Gosh,I feel like in harry potter"you know who"stuff..I totally hate that unfair law,because it's not fair for customers here:(
    Sorry for the long comment.Thanks for following.Keep on blogging,eugenia:)Nice to know you:)
    Hey..I don't see your e-mail address there!

  4. Oh,I want to add:
    If we want to criticize something or someone here,we can't say it bluntly like"Oh hey,I found toxic in your product!".Instead,we should say"Your product is nice,bla bla bla,but I just don't like the fact that it's still contains a part which is toxic"..still,for serious allegation like"toxic",we don't know what company will react..In west maybe the company won't sue you,but's like don't know what will happens.. -___-