Home PageUncategorizedFormaldehyde in my “Natural” Shampoo?

Formaldehyde in my “natural and organic” shampoo? Yikes! …and I’m not too happy about being green washed! What is Diazolidinyl Urea? It’s not formaldehyde – but it releases formaldehyde as it slowly breaks down into the shampoo. Let me tell you how that chemical works – but first I’ll tell you how Diazolidinyl Urea came to my attention…

The bottles of shampoo that made me think!

The bottles of shampoo that made me think!

I’ve always though it was worth the extra money to buy products in the “organic and natural” sections of the supermarket (in my case Hannaford) or big box stores (for me – that’s Target!). How sad was to find out through a friend that those products aren’t as safe as I though – for both my family and the environment!

My friend Karen has always been as conscience about the environment as I – rightly owning a shop in Saratoga Springs called “Green Conscious Home” – and when I brought her two shampoos I was using for myself and my kids we were shocked when we took a closer look at the ingredients.


I found I was a victim of classic greenwashing – a claim of “natural” means nothing. Companies can add a small percentage of “organic” ingredients to a product that’s chock full of harmful ingredients and mislead us. A green leaf on the label, a slick advertising campaign, and a few healthy “claims” and we’re all buying it – lock, stock and barrel.

How each Diazolidinyl Urea molecule breaks down into 4 molecules of formaldehyde

How each Diazolidinyl Urea molecule breaks down into 4 molecules of formaldehyde

So, let’s get back to that Diazolidinyl Urea.

It’s a way for companies to sneak formaldehyde – yes that same stinky formaldehyde that preserved the fish and frog I dissected in high school – into their products. According to the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as many as 1 in 5 personal care products contain formaldehyde, a known carcinogen.

It’s in the products because of formaldehyde releasers – chemicals that when added to the products slowly decompose to release molecules of formaldehyde. It’s a potent way to get shelf life – the longer the product sits, the more formaldehyde it will contain as the formaldehyde releaser breaks down.

Diazolidinyl Urea is one of those chemicals. Here are some formaldehyde releaser to look out for on labels, from the Environmental Working Group website:

DMDM hydantoin
Imidazolidinyl urea
Bronopol (2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol )

As well as a carcinogen, formaldehyde also is a skin sensitizer – causing dermatitis, an inflammation of the skin.

I’ve put aside my misleading bottle of shampoo and found a safer shampoo I’m really happy with. I’ve become an ingredient detective, learning the hard way!


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