Formaldehyde is a toxic and carcinogenic ingredient and a potential allergen. In cosmetic products, there are two types of formaldehyde – pure formaldehyde added to the product, which is classified as FORMALDEHYDE in the list of INCI ingredients or so-called “hidden formaldehyde” that is released from specific preservatives under certain conditions.

Pure formaldehyde is almost no longer added to cosmetics as a preservative but is more often added to nail polishes. If you want to avoid formaldehyde in nail polish, look for FORMALDEHYDE on INCI ingredients list… and do not buy the ones containing it if you want to avoid this “evil” one. Nowadays, with so many options of nail polishes in the stores, it would be almost a sin to choose the ones with formaldehyde. Just as a little warning: the price does not always determine the choice of ingredients in nail polishes – in all price ranges we can find the nail polishes with formaldehyde.

Formaldehyde is a toxic and carcinogenic ingredient and a potential allergen

The second type of “hidden formaldehyde” is currently the predominant group of formaldehyde in cosmetics. Contrary to the preservatives of parabens, which can be easily detected in the list of ingredients, the names of these preservatives are a little more “complicated”. Below is the list of formaldehyde releasers used in cosmetics – bolded ones are according to my review of formulations currently the most common:

  • Diazolidinyl Urea
  • Imidazolidinyl Urea
  • Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate
  • Benzylhemiformal
  • 2-Bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol
  • 5-Bromo-5-nitro-1,3-dioxane
  • Quaternium-15
  • DMDM Hydantoin
  • Methenamine

These preservatives are, however, allowed to be used in cosmetic products (in EU, for the time being), but despite the small allowed concentrations of formaldehyde releasers, we can question the impact they have on our health over a longer period. Everyday use of cosmetics, repeated touch-ups of makeup during the day, blogging/vlogging – where the frequent use of cosmetics is a necessary part of hobby or job … are definitely a good reason for not buying products with these ingredients (if your favourite makeup products contain such a preservative, at least avoid them in skin care).

So do a favor to your health + encourage cosmetic brands that are more ingredients conscious and produce cosmetics without adding formaldehyde releasers to their formulations.

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