Friday, March 25, 2011

Ingredient Investigation: Formaldehyde

You’re not dead yet, so why would you want the same carcinogenic chemical used to embalm bodies, on or near your hair, skin, and nails? 

Find out the freaky facts about formaldehyde hiding in your family's products...

 Consumers can find toxic formaldehyde in:
  • hair & nail products
  • antiperspirants
  • makeups
  • baby lotions
  • bubble baths
  • soaps
Formaldehyde is a colorless gas produced by the oxidation of methyl alcohol.  It has been linked to damaged DNA, lung cancer in rats, & it has even lead to coma & death when ingested.  This highly reactive carcinogen has an irritating effect on the mucous membranes, and if it is taken internally, the effects can range from severe abdominal pain to internal bleeding & loss of the ability to urinate.  For members of the beauty business industry, formaldehyde is known as a disinfectant & preservative commonly used to clean cosmetic tools.

Lauryl Sulfate containing products sometimes include formaldehyde but may not list it as an ingredient.  The secret is to know how formaldehyde may be listed. 

The gas is known to use the aliases:
  • cormalin
  • formic aldehyde
  • methanol
  • methyl aldehyde
  • oxymethane  
This chemical is sometimes released by DMDM hydantoin, quaternium-15, diazolidinyl urea, and imidazolidinyl urea.

The use of formaldehyde is banned in cosmetics in Sweden and Japan.  I think the USA should jump on the bandwagon & keep people safe from harm by fighting this fight on our soil.  To check the toxicity of your products, The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database allows visitors to search for a variety of commonly used products & check their hazard ratings.  I can’t stress enough how important it is to CHECK THE INGREDIENT LABEL on your beauty products!  Cosmetics are among the least regulated & there are very little long-term studies done to see the effects the chemicals they contain have on the body.

My Resources Are Your Resources
  • The Body Toxic by Nena Baker
  • No More Dirty Looks by Siobhan O’Connor & Alexandra Spunt
  • A Consumer’s Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients by Ruth Winter, M.S.
3 must-have books full of information on ingredients and making smart choices.
This is such an informative site.  I urge you to browse the page, check your products’ ratings, & uncover new choices with safer scores.


Anonymous said...

This was so interesting. I didn't think much of the chemicals listed on my shampoo and never even looked at the ones on my other personal products. I am going to check all the ingredients listed from now on. I thought formaldehyde was a thing of the past and banned. Thanks for the info.

Sariana said...

@ Anonymous, Thank you for the comments. Unfortunately, some hazardous ingredients are disguised with different names & still used today. I'm happy to hear that you're going to check your labels from now on. All the best!

Anonymous said...

I'm realizing now that I am allergic to formaldehyde (bought new bras from Victoria's Secret, which gave me a horrible, scarring rash - found out that there are lawsuits against the company for the use of formaldehyde in their bras).

Thanks for posting this. It is really tricky to find where this toxic chemical is hiding, and under what 'aliases.'

I too am now reading my labels much, much more closely.