What is it?
Quaternium-15 is a preservative found in a variety of cosmetics, topical pharmaceutical preparations, and industrial substances. As a preservative, it has activity against bacteria, fungi, and molds.

How can I avoid it?
Skin contact with quaternium-15 is required for it to cause a rash. Discontinuation of exposure to products containing quaternium-15 should result in improvement and/or the resolution of your dermatitis. The most common cause of allergic contact dermatitis from quaternium-15 is cosmetics preserved with this chemical. By law, all products made in the U.S. for topical use have the ingredients listed either on the product package or the box that contains it, so check the labeling of ingredients in your cosmetics. At work,
request a Safety Data Sheet (SDS) to help identify potential sources of exposure.

Some individuals who are allergic to formaldehyde are also sensitive to quaternium-15 since quaternium-15 releases small amounts of formaldehyde. Quaternium-15 sensitive individuals may need to avoid preserved with formaldehyde or formaldehyde-releasing agents, such as:

  • Diazolidinyl urea (Germall II)
  • DMDM hydantoin (Glydant)
  • Imidazolidinyl urea (Germall)
  • 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,30diol (Bronopol)
  • Tris nitromethane (Tris Nitro) Tris Nitro is an industrial biocide and is not usually found in skin, hair, or cosmetic product
Quaternium-15 is most frequently found in hair-care products such as conditioners, rinses, and shampoos as well as several popular moisturizing lotions and a number of cosmetic products. 

Other products may include:
  • Adhesives and glues, including joint cement, and printing pastes
  • Construction materials
  • Disinfectants
  • Skincare products/Cosmetics:
    • Antiperspirants/Deodorants
    • Body powders
    • Eye make-up:
      • Liners
      • Shadows
      • Mascara
    • Hair sprays, gels, tonics, and lotions
    • Hair colorants/“Permanents-relaxers”
    • Soaps/Cleansers
    • Shampoos/Conditioners
    • Moisturizers
    • Make-ups, powders, concealers, blushes
    • Make-up removers
    • Shaving products
    • Wipes
    • Sunscreens
  • Medications, topical, prescription, and over the counter such as
    • Anesthetics
    • Antiseptics
    • Contact lens solution
    • Contents of vitamin E capsules used topically
    • Creams, ointments, solutions
    • Eye drops
    • Foot and other powders
    • Nasal decongestants
    • Traditional Chinese medications
    • Wound dressings
  • Cleaning products, waxes, and polishes
  • Inks (water-based)
  • Latex paints
  • Laundry starch
  • Metalworking fluids
  • Paper or paperboard
  • Polyvinyl alcohol
  • Pressed wood, such as particleboard, medium-density fiberboard (MDF), plywood, oriented strand board (OSB)
  • Pulp and paper
  • Smoke from charcoal fires, wood, kerosene, and coal
  • Spinning emulsions
  • Textile finishing solutions
  • Tobacco and cigarette smoke
  • Toners
Other names for Quaternium-15:
  • 1-(3-chloroallyl)-3,5,7-triaza-1-azoniaadamantane chloride
  • Azoniaadamantane chloride
  • Chloroallyl methenamine chloride
  • Cis-1-(3-chloroallyl) 3,5,7-triaza-1-azoniaadamantane chloride
  • Dowicil 200
  • Dowicil 75, 100, 200 (chemically similar)
  • Methanamine-3-chloroallylochloride
  • N-(3-chloroallyl) hexaminium chloride
  • Preventol D-1
  • Formaldehyde
  • Imidazolidinyl urea
  • Dowco 184
  • Dowicide Q
  • Hexamethylenetetramine chloroallyl chloride
  • 3,5,7-triaza-1-azoniaadamantane
  • 1-(3-chloroallyl)-chloride
Potential cross-reacting/co-reacting substances:
  • Bromonitropropanediol
  • Diazolidinyl urea
  • DMDM Hydantoin
  • Imidazolidinyl urea
  • Tris nitromethane (Tris Nitro) Tris Nitro is an industrial biocide and is not usually found in skin, hair or cosmetic product
  • Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate
Cross-reactivity among the various quaterniums has not been shown to occur. Follow your doctor’s advice about avoiding all quaterniums.


How safe is it?

Hang tight. We're thinking.