DMDM Hydantoin & Shampoo
August 9, 2021
DMDM hydantoin is a substance that works as a preservative in cosmetics and personal care products like shampoos, conditioners, moisturizers, facial cleansers, and makeup.
DMDM hydantoin extends the shelf life of the product. It prevents the product from spoiling and contamination with fungi, yeast and bacteria that can make people sick or give them rashes. Because who has a refrigerator in their bathroom to store beauty products?
Currently there is a class action lawsuit pending against shampoo companies that use DMDM hydantoin as an ingredient in their product. The suit claims the chemical may cause hair loss and scalp irritation in some people. There currently is a lack of research supporting this claim.
Formaldehyde in Shampoo
Part of the chemical breakdown process for DMDM hydantoin involves a small, consistent release of formaldehyde, a strong-smelling gas. Industry research has confirmed and reaffirmed the acceptable level of formaldehyde, as long as it does not exceed a certain amount in the product. For context, the amount of formaldehyde released is equivalent to naturally occurring levels found in a medium-sized pear. Formaldehyde is commonly used in the production of many building materials and products for your household – including hair products. Permanent-press fabrics contain formaldehyde; as do glues, adhesives, and particle board. You can also find formaldehyde in fingernail polish, shower gel and even lotions.
Health Issues Related to Formaldehyde
The use of Formaldehyde, the by-product of DMDM hydantoin breakdown, has been linked to the following health issues:
Allergic Contact Dermatitis
Products with formaldehyde releasing ingredients can cause allergic contact dermatitis or contact eczema in people who are sensitive to formaldehyde. The US FDA lists DMDM hydantoin as a common allergen in cosmetic products.
If regularly applied to the scalp, formaldehyde can cause trauma to the hair follicles and lead to hair loss.
Eye, Nose & Throat Irritation
Some people develop eye, nose, and throat irritation that can lead to breathing difficulties from inhaling formaldehyde. Reports of irritation are associated with hair salons, especially when hair products are heated with hair straighteners and blow dryers. Hair straightening treatments undoubtedly pose the biggest potential risk of formaldehyde exposure.
Formaldehyde is considered a probable carcinogen. Your risk increases if you are exposed at higher doses on a daily basis, like if you work in a morgue. Evidence is still inconclusive on the potential long-term effects of formaldehyde at low levels.
How to Avoid DMDM Hydantoin & Formaldehyde Exposure
Consider Substitutions for Cosmetic & Personal Care Products
If you are concerned about possible exposure to DMDM hydantoin and formaldehyde, the best way to avoid this ingredient is to read labels and look for substitutes for your cosmetics and personal care products that contain ingredients such as DMDM hydantoin, methylene glycol, quaternium 15, 3 dioxane, formalin, and formic aldehyde. Check the Skin-Deep database at www.cosmeticsdatabase.com to find safer products.
Increase the ventilation in your workplace and take breaks outside if you work with these beauty products on a regular basis.
Be Aware of the Chemicals in Your Personal Care Items
Jurisdictions like Canada, France, Ireland, California, Maryland, and Oregon have removed beauty products with unacceptable levels of formaldehyde from store shelves. But the reality is regulators cannot keep up with the development of chemicals on the market, so consumers need to be aware of what they are putting into their bodies.
Personal care products contain a wide variety of ingredients, including some known to be hazardous, and many that lack research to prove safe for one’s health. These products are applied directly to our skin where they are easily absorbed into our bodies.
These products do not require a formal SDS for consumer use, however SDS’s are required for consumer products if use in the workplace leads to prolonged exposure or excessive use. If you work in the cosmetic industry and may be exposed to shampoo and other personal care products daily Chemscape can help with you SDS management and chemical safety plans to keep your employees and your customers safer.
Here is a longer list of formaldehyde-associated ingredients used in consumer cosmetic and personal care products: