Exposing the Formaldehyde Myth

formaldehyde is a nail polish ingredient, which is also completely incorrect.  Here are the facts: a major ingredient used in nail polish is called “tosylamide formaldehyde resin”.  This resin is originally made using several substances, including formaldehyde gas, but the resin is totally different. It is very thick, sticky, doesn’t evaporate and has completely different properties from formaldehyde gas.  This resin can contain tiny trace amounts of formaldehyde residuals, but those levels are well below those found in nature. Formaldehyde is created in many naturally-occurring processes.  Yes, formaldehyde is a natural and organic substance that is normally found in many foods up to 0.0098%. Trace amounts naturally occur in even organically grown pears, apples, carrots and tomatoes.  In nail polish, the trace formaldehyde residuals are about the same as what naturally occurs in some foods. Also, scientific studies done in salons have proven that nail products don’t increase levels of formaldehyde in the salon air, so why the concern? Unless these advocacy groups think organically grown apples and carrots are also dangerous, they must be greatly over exaggerating the health risks.

The third incorrect claim is that certain preservatives used in some lotions, creams, shampoos, body washes, etc. release so much formaldehyde gas that they can cause cancer. What is the scientific truth? The most effective preservative ingredients for these types of cosmetics will very slowly release even lower amounts of formaldehyde than what is found in foods.  In general, they release about 100 times lower levels or about 0.0001%.   As you now know, this will immediately mix with water in the product and instantly convert into methylene glycol, so there’s virtually no chance of inhaling harmful levels of formaldehyde gas.  The same thing happens to the trace levels of formaldehyde that naturally occurs in food, which is why formaldehyde gas inhalation isn’t a problem with cosmetics. Remember, formaldehyde gas only rarely causes nasal cancer and when it does, these problems are only found in people who inhale significantly large dosages for long periods of time, e.g. formaldehyde manufacturing plant worker. These extremely beneficial preservatives can help ensure the safety of cosmetic products, so it’s important to not to unfairly slander them.  These preservative may occasionally cause skin irritation and allergic sensitivity in a small percentage of the population, but show no adverse effects for the overwhelming majority of people who use products protected by these important ingredients.

You can see that when the science behind this issue is examined, it becomes clear and obvious that the claims about formaldehyde in cosmetics causing cancer are not only incorrect; the entire issue has been dramatically exaggerated and overstated. Next time you hear that “formaldehyde” is a cancer causing ingredient in cosmetics, you’ll know this is NOT true!  You’ll also know that whoever made this statement doesn’t understand the facts. Please set them straight. Save this article so you can give it to them.  Educators, please share this information with your students.  It hurts the entire beauty, cosmetic and personal care industry when misinformation like this goes uncorrected. We need to set the record straight and you can help.

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