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.
The aim of the study was to determine the presence of formaldehyde in samples of US personal care products.
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.
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.
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.