Allergen Highlight: Formaldehyde and Formaldehyde Releasers

November 16, 2022

By: Anjuli Mehrotra

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You’ve probably heard about the chemical, formaldehyde, but did you know that this infamous chemical is also present in products used throughout your home, including your skincare — as well as parts of your home itself? Formaldehyde is commonly used as a preservative in a variety of products, including some of your personal care products.

What is It?

Formaldehyde is a colorless, strong-smelling gas used as a preservative and, occasionally, as a disinfectant in personal care products, household materials, and some industrial exposures.

Why is It a Problem?

You probably have heard that it isn’t considered healthy to be exposed to this chemical. From an allergy perspective, formaldehyde can be absorbed through the skin and has been linked to allergic skin reactions and skin irritations like watery eyes; burning sensations in the eyes, nose, and throat; and coughing & wheezing.

Where to Find It

Formaldehyde can be found as a preservative in new clothing and bedding. It is also found in skincare and personal care products, including creams, moisturizers, hair care, soaps, shampoos, and cosmetics (makeup).

Other Names for Formaldehyde

The challenge in identifying formaldehyde in your products is that it comes in many forms and goes by many names. They include:
  • Formalin
  • Formic Aldehyde
  • Methaldehyde
  • Methyl Aldehyde
  • Methylene Oxide
  • Methanal
  • Oxymethylene

Formaldehyde-Releasing Agents

In addition to the many forms of formaldehyde, it’s also crucial to avoid products with ingredients that convert to formaldehyde.
Why is this a problem?
Many companies have started to take formaldehyde out of their products. Unfortunately, though, many of them are replacing it with formaldehyde releasing agents, which aren’t as well known to the general public. The problem is that, ultimately, these agents release small amounts of formaldehyde over time, leading to exposure once again.
Formaldehyde-releasing substances include:
  • Bronopol
  • Glyoxal
  • Diazolidinyl Urea
  • DMDM Hydantoin
  • Quaternium-15
  • Imidazolidinyl Urea
  • Diazolidinyl Urea
  • Polyoxymethylene Urea
  • Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate
  • And many more!!

How to Avoid Exposure

Read the labels on your products to avoid the ingredients listed above. Additionally, products containing formaldehyde-releasing agents are sensitive to heat and light as well. Avoid using expired products or products that have been left in the sun.
As you can see, formaldehyde is a bit of a chameleon in the world of allergens. Knowing how to identify its variants and precursors goes a long way toward avoiding this allergen in your personal environment.

Evme’s Promise

At Evme, we aim for “sans allergenic” (without allergens), identifying and excluding thousands of potential allergens and irritants that are commonly found in products, so you can avoid dermatitis, stinging, and redness. Formaldehyde is one of those “no-no” ingredients. As a result, Evme will never include formaldehyde or formaldehyde-releasing agents in our products.

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