Formaldehyde Release From Personal Care Products: Chromotropic Acid Method Analysis

Anne Nikle, Marna E Ericson, Erin M Warshaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Background: Preservatives such as formaldehyde and formaldehyde releasers (F/FRs) are found in personal care products. Studies from Europe and Israel have indicated that products with undeclared F/FRs on product labels may have detectable levels of formaldehyde. Objective: The aim of the study was to determine the presence of formaldehyde in samples of US personal care products. Methods: Fifty-four baby and adult products were tested with the chromotropic acid method. A blinded investigator graded the color change as mild, moderate, or strong. Results: All 8 products declaring F/FRs resulted in a deep purple color change, indicating a strong reaction. Of the 46 products with undeclared F/FRs, 4 (8.6%) were found to release formaldehyde. All 4 resulted in a light purple color change, indicating a mild reaction. Conclusions: Overall, 4 of 54 products (7.4%) had label information, which did not match chromotropic acid method testing results. Clinicians and formaldehyde-allergic individuals should be aware of the limitations of product ingredient labeling in managing allergic contact dermatitis to formaldehyde.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-73
Number of pages7
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by an American Contact Dermatitis Society for the Clinical Research Award.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2019 American Contact Dermatitis Society.


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