Concomitant contact allergy to formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasers remains common among patients with allergic contact dermatitis. Concentration of free formaldehyde in cosmetic products within allowed limits have been shown to induce dermatitis from shortterm use on normal skin.
The aim of this study was to investigate the formaldehyde content of cosmetic products made in Lithuania. 42 samples were analysed with the chromotropic acid (CA) method for semi-quantitative formaldehyde determination. These included 24 leave-on (e.g., creams, lotions) and 18 rinse-off (e.g., shampoos, soaps) products. Formaldehyde releasers were declared on the labels of 10 products. No formaldehyde releaser was declared on the label of the only face cream investigated, but levels of free formaldehyde with the CA method was >40 mg/ml and when analysed with a high-performance liquid chromatographic method – 532 ppm. According to the EU Cosmetic directive, if the concentration of formaldehyde is above 0.05% a cosmetic product must be labelled “contains formaldehyde“. It could be difficult for patients allergic to formaldehyde to avoid contact with products containing it as its presence cannot be determined from the ingredient labelling with certainty. The CA method is a simple and reliable method for detecting formaldehyde presence in cosmetic products.
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