I never thought I needed to worry about formaldehyde in my shampoo. The only time I remember hearing about it was in my human physiology class in college. As we were examining dead body parts like lungs and old arteries my teacher explained that formaldehyde was once used to preserve dead bodies, but they no longer use the chemical because it is too harmful to the workers and could cause cancer. I thought, what an awful chemical!
Since that alerting moment in my lab class I have learned that formaldehyde is still being used in small amounts to preservative our products and as a disinfectant or a fungicide. Currently, it is found in our personal products ranging from deodorant, nail polish, nail hardeners, face wash, cosmetics, shampoo, or even body wash.
And yes, it still carries a handful of health concerns: it has the ability to cause cancer, it can negatively effect the immune system, respiratory and skin systems. It can also cause DNA damage and trigger asthma.
In my book Switching Products with Samvid I mention that Johnson and Johnson uses the ingredient in their baby shampoo. Although, if you look at their ingredient list you might be at a loss of where to find it. It is listed as quaternium-15, which is a formaldehyde releasing preservative. This type of preservative has the ability to continually release formaldehyde in small amounts over time.
Other names for formaldehyde that could be listed on the back of your products are:
Methylene glycol (liquid form)
If it is too dangerous to use on dead bodies, why is it commonly found in our body products?
Some alternatives to Johnson and Johnson could be Badger Baby Soap Bar, Everyday Shea Babies and Up, or Angel Baby Shampoo and Body Wash. Check the back of your products, is there formaldehyde in them?