What You Need To Know About DMDM Hydantoin In Beauty Products

What we put on our skin is just as important as what we put in our bodies. But how often do we vet the ingredients of our favorite skincare and haircare products? Online databases make it easier to know what those long chemical compounds do and if they are truly safe. One ingredient you'll want to search for is DMDM hydantoin.


DMDM hydantoin is a preservative used to prevent cosmetics from spoiling. It is added to a number of products like hand soap, shampoo, moisturizer, and makeup remover. This preservative works by releasing small amounts of formaldehyde to stop bacteria and contaminants from accumulating, per WebMD. However, consumers are warning others about the use of this formaldehyde donor.

lawsuit filed against TRESemmé claims the company's use of DMDM hydantoin caused hair loss. Since the public got ahold of the controversy, social media swarmed with posts on whether the ingredient is toxic. But is this a hair loss myth, or do you need to avoid DMDM hydantoin?

Does DMDM hydantoin cause hair loss?

Having clumps of hair fall out after shampooing is a nightmare no one wants to experience. However, just because your cleanser has DMDM hydantoin doesn't mean the horror will come to life. Certified trichologist Gretchen Friese told InStyle, "According to scientific experts, DMDM hydantoin is safe as a cosmetic ingredient at normal levels of use in products." So as long as you use the product as intended, the experts do not consider the ingredient to be a risk to consumers.


Regarding the claims against TRESemmé, the haircare line is board certified dermatologist-approved. Dr. Muneeb Shah created a TikTok explaining, "DMDM hydantoin and other ingredients in the [TRESemmé] formula have never been shown to cause isolated hair loss in clinical studies."

So if you see DMDM hydantoin lurking in your ingredients list, do not fear. However, where this preservative can cause issues is with individuals allergic to formaldehyde or those with sensitive skin, according to Healthline.

DMDM hydantoin is a common allergen

DMDM hydantoin doesn't release enough formaldehyde to be dangerous to the average consumer. The minimal amount produced is equivalent to natural quantities of formaldehyde present in foods such as apples and pears. However, those allergic to DMDM hydantoin or formaldehyde should avoid this ingredient. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) lists DMDM hydantoin as a common allergen found in cosmetics. It can cause different allergic reactions such as irritation, redness, and contact dermatitis or eczema. So those with similar conditions or sensitive skin should avoid this ingredient.


Fortunately, there are several hypoallergenic skincare brands you can try if you have sensitive skin. DMDM hydantoin is present in a range of products, but you can find alternatives without the preservative. Avalon Organics' volumizing shampoo, CeraVe's lightweight oil-free moisturizer, and SEEN's magic hair serum are a few DMDM hydantoin-free cosmetics. If you're on the fence and want to look into products containing this preservative, you can check the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep database. In addition, you can always perform a patch test on any new haircare or skincare merchandise to know if you and the product are a match.