Preservatives in the Spotlight – Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate

Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate is a cosmetic preservative used shampoos, baby wipes, cleaning agents, cleansing bars, lotions and many other household products. It is used as an alternative to parabens and is a formaldehyde-containing chemical.

According to, it is derived from the naturally occurring amino acid, glycine. It is often used in cosmetics and skincare products as a natural alternative to parabens, although the process used to create Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate requires synthetic actions. It is considered an effective preservative because of its ability to cover a broad spectrum of microbes and protect formulas against bacteria, yeast and mould.

The website goes on to say that the Cosmetics Database has found Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate to be a low hazard ingredient, and non-irritating, non-sensitizing, non-toxic by skin absorption and non-mutagenic. However, even at concentrations less than 1%, this ingredient has been shown to cause skin and eye irritation and may be more irritating than the parabens it is replacing.

Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate also has the potential to be contaminated with formaldehyde, and can also break down into formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, toxin and irritant that is rated as a high hazard by the EWG. However, this is not considered to be a frequent occurrence, and the amounts of formaldehyde resulting from Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate is negligible.

According to Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate causes respiratory tract allergies, oral toxicity, headache and nausea. It triggers severe skin allergies and eye damage. Is particularly detrimental to the respiratory tract and the central nervous system, and can negatively affect the digestive tract, the eyes and the skin.

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