Formaldehyde is present in cabbage, pears, brussel sprouts and even our bodies. It’s great at preventing bacteria, yeast and mold growth and it’s often a component in ingredients (in the form of formalin) used to preserve cosmetics. In concentrations above 0.1 ppm, formaldehyde may cause an irritation.
Some preservative ingredients do not directly have formaldehyde, but instead are formaldehyde donors. This means that over time that ingredient will emit a very small amount of formaldehyde in the form of gas into the air as it decomposes in the product. For instance, Diazolidinyl Urea, an ingredient in the broad spectrum preservative Germaben, is a formaldehyde donor.
So how much is safe? Well, there isn’t a set answer on that. According to www.womenshealthmag.com:
“It depends whom you ask. While the FDA, which oversees the cosmetics industry, does not prohibit nor regulate the use of formaldehyde in cosmetics (except for nail polishes), the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR), an independent panel of experts that determines the safety of cosmetic ingredients, recommends that cosmetic products should not contain formaldehyde at amounts greater than 0.2 percent, for health and safety reasons, says Halyna Breslawec, Chief Scientist at the Personal Care Products Council. In aerosol products, the CIR recommends that formaldehyde not be used at all. Ultimately, though, these are just recommendations that cosmetic companies aren't mandated to follow.” http://www.womenshealthmag.com/style/safe-cosmetics.
While the amount of formaldehyde, given off by one ingredient out of three in a preservative used at 0.5% spread out over time, might be minuscule to one person, it might be too much for another. This is why we offer Optiphen and Optiphen ND, both of which are not formaldehyde donors.
Optiphen ND: http://www.brambleberry.com/Optiphen-ND-P5714.aspx
For more information about Formaldehyde: http://personalcaretruth.com/2011/04/april-is-national-formaldehyde-month/
Infographic about Formaldehyde Donors: http://www.cosmeticsinfo.org/ingredient/formaldehyde