You needn’t be a self-described irredeemable hippie like me to avoid sources of formaldehyde. Both the International Agency for Research on Carcinogens and The National Toxicology Program categorize this chemical as a carcinogen.
You may think that you’re safe from formaldehyde exposure, since it’s been years since you dissected that frog in high school. Unfortunately, this toxin could likely be hiding in the products you apply to your body and, as a result, is being absorbed and inhaled on a daily basis.
Sources of formaldehyde in hair products
The following ingredients are known as a formaldehyde releasers or formaldehyde donors. As derivatives of formaldehyde, the following additives release formaldehyde at levels 1/10th of the original chemical. That number, however, comes from the industry-funded Cosmetic Review Panel (healing journey four years ago). When billion dollar industries fund research on the safety of their products, I take the results with a grain of salt. As I discussed in my post on cell phone radiation, funding bias is a real and pervasive influence. So the accuracy of that formaldehyde impact could be reasonably questioned.
With the drastic toxicity of formaldehyde, even a fraction of the chemical presents a burden to our body, especially when used on a daily basis. Further, research on the biological impact of chemical preservatives considers only one chemical at a time. Many experts believe that the combination of multiple preservatives is more toxic than the sum of its parts.
Carefully scan all your haircare, as well as other personal care products, for the following formaldehyde releasers:
- DMDM hydantoin, a preservative found in over 2,000 products listed on the Skin Deep Database, such as Ahava Anti-Dandruff Shampoo.
- Glyoxal – With the highest toxicity rating on the Skin Deep Database, this preservative is found in products from Bed Head and Liquid Keratin.
- Imidazolidinyl Urea – Brands that attempt a “natural” spin on marketing, such as Macadamia Natural Oil, use this preservative.
- Diazolidinyl Urea – This hides in well-known brands such as Almay and DevaCurl products.
- Methylene Glycol – Found in chemical smoothing treatments such as The Brazilian Blowout, this ingredient may be responsible for making countless stylists sick from frequent exposure.
- Polyoxymethylene Urea – The Skin Deep Database doesn’t currently list hair products with this toxin, although it is still used in cosmetics and skincare.
- Quaternium-15 – This formaldehyde-based preservative is found in Johnson’s Baby Shampoo!
- Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate – Again, brands positioning themselves as “natural” (such as Giovanni, Earth Science, and Siberian Pure Herbs) use this preservative.
My Favorite Non-Toxic Hair Care
Whenever I discuss haircare, whether on the blog or with friends, I feel compelled to share my experience with Morrocco Method, the 100% raw haircare that I’ve used for years.
When I first began my healing journey four years ago, I diligently ditched any questionable ingredients in my hair and body care. But, with formaldehyde-containing preservatives and other nasty additives in seemingly innocuous brands, I suddenly found myself without many options. As a matter of fact, I searched for a year before I found a line which met my ingredient standards. (Yep, a whole shampoo-less year while I experimented with DIY haircare with rather disastrous results).
The holistic approach of Morrocco Method –Morrocco Method and lunar hair cutting – transformed the health of my hair and scalp. Most importantly, I know I am using only the most pristine ingredients… all of which are pure enough to eat. If you want to start your holistic hair care journey, I put together a deluxe-sized sample packet of my favorite MM products. Grab the samples and learn more here!
Have you purged chemicals from your haircare?