Formaldehyde (CAS no. 50-00-0)

Formaldehyde is a simple chemical compound made of hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon, with the formula CH₂O. It is a colorless, strong-smelling gas at room temperature. It is a critical building block in the synthesis of many other chemical compounds.

Usage in Cosmetics:
Formaldehyde is used in cosmetics and personal care products as a preservative to prevent the growth of bacteria and other microbes, extending the shelf life of these products. Common products that may contain formaldehyde include shampoos, conditioners, body washes, nail polishes, and hair smoothing and straightening products. Formaldehyde may also be found in eyelash glues, hair gels, and some color cosmetics.

Other Names or Synonyms:
Formaldehyde is also known as methanal, formalin (when dissolved in water), formol, and methyl aldehyde.

Skin Sensitivities and Allergies:
Formaldehyde is a well-known skin sensitizer and can cause allergic skin reactions such as contact dermatitis in sensitive individuals. Exposure to formaldehyde may result in redness, swelling, itching, and blistering of the skin. People with pre-existing skin conditions or sensitive skin are particularly at risk.

Other Risks:
Aside from skin sensitivities, formaldehyde is classified as a carcinogen by various health organizations. Prolonged or excessive exposure to formaldehyde can potentially lead to certain types of cancer. It can also cause eye irritation and may trigger asthma and other respiratory problems.

Regulatory Information:
Formaldehyde is subject to regulation and restriction in many regions. In California, under Assembly Bill No. 496 (CHAPTER 441), the use of formaldehyde in cosmetic products is banned starting January 1, 2025. This prohibition is in line with the state's efforts to protect public health by banning harmful ingredients in cosmetics. The legislation specifies that no person or entity shall manufacture, sell, deliver, hold, or offer for sale in commerce any cosmetic product that contains formaldehyde (among other listed ingredients) from the specified date.

It's important for sensitive skin consumers to check the ingredient list of cosmetics and personal care products for formaldehyde or other potential irritants and allergens to ensure they are making safe and informed choices.

How safe is it?

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