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What Is DMDM in Shampoo? | An Overly-Detailed Guide

You may have seen social media posts expressing concern over DMDM in shampoo. This has caused many people to wonder, “What is DMDM in shampoo?” Continue reading to learn why this it should matter to you.

What Is DMDM?

DMDM hydantoin is a preservative and microbial agent that is used in shampoo to prevent spoilage. It is part of a group of preservatives called formaldehyde releasers, and it releases very small amounts of formaldehyde during the lifetime of the shampoo. 

Although formaldehyde can be dangerous in large amounts, the amount in shampoos is no more than is found naturally in many fruits, including pears, bananas, apples, and more.

If you have heard people expressing concern about DMDM, you may have a lot of questions, including:

  • What is DMDM?
  • Is it dangerous?
  • Should I avoid it?
  • What are the risks and benefits?

We had the same questions, and we found the answers. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about DMDM in shampoo.

Why Is DMDM in Shampoo?

DMDM hydantoin is used as a preservative and microbial agent in shampoos to keep it fresh and free of bacteria. It is considered a formaldehyde donor, which means that it releases small amounts of formaldehyde to keep shampoo free of contaminants. 

DMDM is naturally occurring in many different foods, including the following:

  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Plums
  • Grapes
  • Carrots
  • Onions
  • Beef
  • Poultry
  • Seafood

In fact, most living organisms, including humans, make some formaldehyde as part of their metabolic system. In small amounts, formaldehyde isn’t dangerous, although it can be dangerous in large amounts. 

DMDM is added to shampoo to prevent spoilage. In addition to shampoos, you will find it in a wide range of cosmetics, skin care, and hair care products.

Is DMDM Bad for You?

People want to know if DMDM is bad for you because they have heard that formaldehyde can be dangerous. There are well-documented risks associated with formaldehyde exposure, and it is classified by the National Toxicology Program as a known carcinogen. 

Documented short-term risks include irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, and it can increase some people’s risk of asthma. In addition, the CDC warms that working with it can increase the chances of fertility problems or miscarriages. 

Some states, such as California, ban the use of formaldehyde in personal care products.

However, they do not regulate DMDM hydantoin, which is a formaldehyde releaser or donor. It is listed as a common allergen by the FDA, but it is considered safe to use as it releases very small amounts of formaldehyde. 

What TikTok Users Are Saying

One of the reasons that DMDM is a hot topic right now is because TikTok users have been warning people that DMDM contains formaldehyde and causes hair loss. In fact, some major brands, such as Tresemme and OGX have removed it from their formulas. 

Although DMDM releases trace amounts of formaldehyde, there is no evidence that it makes your hair fall out. People can suffer skin irritation, but it is not prevalent in the general population. 

Should You Avoid Shampoos That Contain DMDM?

Many people want to know if they should avoid shampoos that contain DMDM. It is an odorless substance that prevents the growth of bacteria and other contaminants in shampoo.

Recently, many users discovered that it releases formaldehyde, and it has been a hot topic on TikTok. Dermatologists say that anyone with a history of skin allergies may want to avoid it because it is linked to skin irritation.

But otherwise, scientific research shows that the amount of formaldehyde released from DMDM in shampoo is similar to the amount in a medium sized apple or pear. It is considered safe when used at these regulated levels. 

What Are the Risks and Benefits of DMDM in Shampoo?

The bottom line is that there are both risks and benefits to using shampoos that contain DMDM. Take a look at the following:

Risks of DMDM in Shampoo

Most experts say that DMDM is safe for us in shampoo because it releases a very small amount of formaldehyde. However, there are some risks. 

There is a possibility that DMDM can lead to allergic contact dermatitis or contact eczema in people who are allergic to formaldehyde. It is listed as an allergen by the FDA. Another cause for concern is the potential for hair loss and scalp irritation.

Although users have made claims that this is the case, there has been very little research showing that it is true. One risk is eye, nose, and throat irritation, as for some people breathing in formaldehyde can cause this problem.

However, this is also a small risk and is more common with heat related products that contain these ingredients. Finally, formaldehyde is a known carcinogen, and carcinogens are linked to cancer.

For the most part, experts are not sure of the long-term impact of using these products, but it takes long-term exposure in high quantities to increase this risk. The amount of formaldehyde released is very small in shampoo products that contain DMDM. 

Benefits of DMDM in Shampoo 

The primary benefit of having DMDM in shampoo is that it keeps it fresh and free of contaminants for long periods of time.

It does this by stopping or slowing the growth of bacteria, fungi, and yeast in the shampoo. This is beneficial because you don’t have to rush to use up a bottle of shampoo quickly. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is DMDM Hydantoin Safe in Shampoo?

DMDM Hydantoin is considered safe in shampoo at the current levels used. The FDA and the European Union, as well as an Independent Cosmetic Ingredient Review panel have scientific experts who approve the use at low levels.

Does DMDM Hydantoin in Shampoo Cause Cancer?

Although exposure to formaldehyde has been linked to cancer, it is unclear if exposure to the small amounts released in shampoo is problematic. The amount released is similar to that of an apple or a pear, and it is considered safe by the FDA.

So, What Is DMDM in Shampoo?

DMDM is a preservative and antimicrobial agent used in shampoo to prevent bacteria, fungi, and yeast from growing. It does release small amounts of formaldehyde over time, but it is considered safe by the FDA.

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