Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives are chemical compounds that release formaldehyde over time. Formaldehyde is a gas with strong antimicrobial properties, and these preservatives employ its usefulness in thwarting the growth of microorganisms in products, helping maintain formula stability. The formaldehyde-releasing preservatives are synthetic and created by combining chemicals with formaldehyde.
Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives find applications in industrial processes, household cleaners, and personal care products. In the cosmetics industry, they are frequently used as preservatives to prolong the shelf life of products by impeding the growth of microorganisms. They help stop the spoilage of cosmetics and preserve the formulas.
The ‘pro’ of formaldehyde-releasing preservatives in cosmetics is their effectiveness in preventing microbial growth, especially in water-based formulations that are prone to contamination. These preservatives help safeguard the cosmetic products’ stability, reducing the risk of adulteration from microbes.
However, there are concerns associated with the use of formaldehyde-releasing preservatives in cosmetics. One major caveat is the potential for allergic reactions and skin sensitization. Formaldehyde itself is a known skin sensitizer, and even if released in small amounts from these preservatives, it can still cause allergic reaction.
Another consideration is the debate surrounding the safety of formaldehyde. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has categorized formaldehyde as a human carcinogen, connecting it to certain types of cancer. However, the formaldehyde released from these preservatives is generally at low levels and within regulatory limits set by authorities such as the European Union or the United States.
Natural alternatives to formaldehyde-releasing preservatives include essential oils (such as tea tree, oregano, lavender, thyme, or rosemary), grapefruit seed extract, and certain plant-derived compounds such as potassium sorbate. These substitutions can afford some preservation, but it is vital to note that they may not have the same broad-spectrum antimicrobial effectiveness as formaldehyde-releasing preservatives, unfortunately.
Ultimately, though, due to its potential as a carcinogen, many natural and organic-focused companies eschew formaldehyde-releasing preservatives; Heal Yes! certainly avoids them!