What Is Dmdm Hydantoin — And Is It Safe To Use?

Written by Urvi ShahNov 30, 2023
What is DMDM Hydantoin —  and is it safe to use?

Most of us gravitate toward products that have a longer shelf life, which is why we steer clear of naturally-sourced formulas for the skin or hair that spoil soon. What sets a product with an extended life apart from one that expires too soon? Do you ever wonder whether there’s an ingredient that extends the life of your shampoo, conditioner, or body-wash? And, if there is, what is it called? We were intrigued, and we decided to investigate.


Is there an ingredient that promises your product a longer shelf-life?

DMDM hydantoin: to use or to not use?


You must thank DMDM Hydantoin for slapping that extended date of expiry of your go-to shampoo. A preservative employed in the formulation of a product, DMDM Hydantoin protects cosmetics from microbial damage throughout their shelf lives by inhibiting the growth of yeast, fungus, and bacteria. It releases the chemical formaldehyde as it breaks down in a product to prevent mould or bacteria from damaging your beloved body-wash. And, as surprising as it sounds, it is found in fruits and vegetables as well!

Recently, though, the preservative has encountered excessive scrutiny after being linked to claims of irritation on the scalp and skin, loss of hair, and contact dermatitis and eczema by individuals with an existing allergy to formaldehyde. What’s the verdict?



DMDM hydantoin: to use or to not use?

DMDM hydantoin: to use or to not use?


A lot of your hair-styling tools are infused with DMDM hydantoin as well. If you’re allergic to formaldehyde, any exposure to the preservative can trigger unwarranted reactions on the body, but there's no scientific evidence backing these claims. A topic of contention, the preservative has become the focus of multiple lawsuits against brands selling products infused with it.

It's true that higher concentrations of formaldehyde have been linked to shortness of breath, wheezing, and irritation in the throat, eyes, and nose. So exposure to higher amounts of this preservative, inevitably, is hazardous. But the preservative is used in recommended amounts in cosmetics. It’s unlikely that it triggers these reactions in everyone.

There’s always a percentage of the population with sensitivity to any ingredient, not only this one. All you have to do to prevent contracting these allergies is to request a dermatologist to conduct a diagnostic patch-test to determine whether you’re allergic to the preservative or not.


Urvi Shah

Written by

A professional writer by day, and a poet by night, I'm a journalism graduate with experience in the news, travel, and food sectors. A frantic compiler of excerpts from books I've read, you can count on me to incorporate quotes and phrases into everyday conversations without a warning. On days I'm not working, I station myself in front of my laptop, and try to work my way through month-old drafts of my writings.


Shop This Story