December 5, 2022


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Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate? Formaldehyde Releaser??

4 min read
I was looking at a few new water/aloe based sprays to try in the last few days.  I came across one I won't name because I haven't bought it, let alone used it to know what it does and doesn't do

I was looking at a few new water/aloe based sprays to try in the last few days.  I came across one I won’t name because I haven’t bought it, let alone used it to know what it does and doesn’t do.  However, you KNOW the first thing I did was look at the ingredients list to see whether it’s worthy or whether it’s garbage.  I know that’s harsh but…yall know me.
The product itself looks as if it’s an all natural product, and even has “Organics” in it’s trademarked name.  Oh, it almost got past me!

Anyway, among the ingredients list were great ingredients like Certified Organic Aloe Vera gel, Panthenol, Biotin and Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein.  But also on that list was Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate.

I haven’t paid too much attention to this ingredient up until now, so of course I ran to EWG’s Skin Deep website to check it out.

What I noticed first is it’s not listed as just “Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate”.  It was listed as “Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate (FORMALDEHYDE RELEASER)”. YIKES!   That was all I needed to see!

According to online information, Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate is used as a preservative, mild hair conditioning agent and humectant.  It is reportedly the main ingredient in the preservative called “Suttocide A”.

It’s score on EWG was 6 (the higher the number, the worse it is).  For comparison, Formaldehyde itself has an EWG score of 10 (highest).

It’s derived from glycine, an amino acid which helps create muscle tissue and regulate blood sugar levels.  Glycine itself, in hair products, is used as a hair/skin conditioning agent and a “buffering agent”.

According to,  Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate is made not through a natural reaction but through a series of “synthetic modifications, alterations and reactions”.  So makes the point that while it’s “naturally derived”, it’s not a “natural ingredient”. But I’m sure it’s not the only ingredient used everyday in a number of products which is created in that fashion.

It goes by a number of different names too, so click over to EWG to see if any of those names look familiar on your products.  On that page, you’ll see the following information:

“Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate is an antimicrobial preservative which works by forming formaldehyde in cosmetic products. People exposed to such formaldehyde-releasing ingredients may develop a formaldehyde allergy or an allergy to the ingredient itself. “

Girl, whuuu?? I could have sworn I’ve seen this ingredient somewhere before in something I’ve used.  But I can’t remember off the top of my head just now.

Apparently, this is a common ingredient in a number of products.  So I’m certain I’ve seen it before, but no alarm bells went off.

But wait a minute!  I don’t want to be an alarmist or anything so don’t take this post as me screaming about it.  LOL!  The truth is there are a number of ingredients which are/were inside hair and body products that release formaldehyde (Urea is another well-known one).  I don’t think I’m breaking news here.

It’s rarely one single ingredient which has a direct scientific link to chronic illnesses and diseases.  Rather, it is the accumulation of the effects from such ingredients which concern people.  It may not be an issue for you to use 1 or 2 products which questionable ingredients.

However, think about the sheer number of products many of us use everyday:  body wash, shaving cream/depilatory cream, body moisturizer, shampoo, conditioner, leave-in conditioner, moisturizing cream, styling gel, heat protectant,  curling spray, oil sheen spray, defrizzing serum… and that’s BEFORE we get to the makeup and nails!

If just half of those products contain ingredients which produce formaldehyde — even in the tiniest amounts — I would never tell them their concerns are completely invalid.

All of this to say, when looking at a product, don’t be fooled by the front label or the other ingredients listed…even if it looks totally harmless or is made by a company which also manufactures other truly natural products.



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