The Use of Formaldehyde-Releasing Preservatives in Personal Care Products
Preservatives help guarantee a product’s freshness and quality long after you take it home, and prevent the growth of harmful bacteria that can cause skin irritation or other problems.
Formaldehyde has been widely used as a preservative in personal care products. It is an organic compound that is present in all living organisms – found in the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat. In fact, human cells have about 3 parts-per-million (ppm) formaldehyde and it’s common in food as well – some fruits have 60 ppm.
Government regulators in Europe, Asia and North America allow maximum concentration of formaldehyde up to 2,000 ppm in personal care products. They have concluded that it poses no harm to humans at these levels because our bodies process it quickly and it does not accumulate.
Our Position on Formaldehyde-Releasing Preservatives
We never add formaldehyde directly to our products. Instead, we use what are known as formaldehyde-releasing preservatives, which release tiny amounts of methylene glycol, the alcohol form of formaldehyde, over the shelf life of a product. This means that all of our products stay significantly below the levels considered safe by regulators.
While the small amounts of formaldehyde preservatives in food and personal care products are safe, we understand that for many of you it’s more than just a question of safety. In response to the concerns you’ve expressed, we will phase out formaldehyde releasers from all baby products worldwide, in keeping with a commitment we have already made. In addition, we will phase out formaldehyde releasers in adult products, making rare exceptions for adult products only when alternatives are not feasible or safe in formulation with other ingredients.
- Cork M, Carr J, Sultan A, Moustafa M, Danby S, Messenger A, Fenton P. “A case of life-threatening infections due to preservative absence in a topical cream and audit demonstrating magnitude of the problem”. IPA (2010) International Pediatric Association – 26th International Congress of Pediatrics.
* No endorsement, approval, association, or sponsorship of Our Safety & Care Commitment by the organization listed is stated or implied.