Natural Beauty: Formaldehyde in Beauty Products

June 3, 2014
Natural Beauty: Formaldehyde in Beauty Products - Peaceful Dumpling

Formaldehyde in Beauty Products: What lengths would you go to for straight hair or the perfect mani?

Animal-free isn’t always synonymous with healthy. Parabens, for example, appear in several vegan and cruelty-free beauty products. Likewise, formaldehyde (you know, that stuff they use to embalm people) sneaks into a slew of beauty products and treatments.

Not only does this wicked-smelling chemical contribute to skin irritation, formaldehyde is a carcinogen. On top of that, chronic exposure may lead to respiratory problems and immune-system toxicity. Not so pretty.

It’s not uncommon to find some form of formaldehyde in: antiperspirant, keratin hair straightening treatments (a.k.a “The Brazilian Blowout”), hair dye, and nail polish.

Of course, if you get a straightening treatment once a year or hit the salon for a mani only on special occasions, you may not be exposing yourself to enough formaldehyde to put yourself at serious risk (maybe). But please consider the salon technician who may have to administer multiple Brazilian Blowouts a week. The less we support toxin-containing brands, the better for everyone.

Although the Brazilian Blowout and offending nail polishes have gotten a lot of press lately—and formaldehyde-free alternatives are becoming more widely available—the beauty industry hasn’t completely abandoned this troubling chemical.

To complicate matters, formaldehyde-free usually isn’t the only consideration on the conscious shopper’s mind. While I was transitioning to natural beauty products and veganism, I was thrilled to learned that several drug-store brands have eliminated formaldehyde from their nail polishes—only to be crushed that most of these brands still tested on animals (hello, Revlon).

Fortunately, safe and cruelty-free nail polishes are storming the market. Here are just a few thrilling lacquers that are good for your skin (for toxin-free purposes, think of your nails as skin!) and your summer wardrobe:

LVX Formaldehyde-Free Vegan Nail Polish


NCLA Nail Polish


Sheswai Formaldehyde-Free Nail Polish



Kure Bazaar Formaldehyde-Free Nail Polish

Kure Bazaar

Scotch Natural Non-Toxic Vegan Nail Polish

Scotch Naturals

If you’re in the market to (semi) permanently straighten your locks, you may consider Zerran Reallisse Vegan Hair Smoothing Treatment. This non-toxic, non-smelly treatment is safer for both your and your stylist.

Looking to dye your hair sans toxic overload? Read about natural hair dye options here.

(Of course, there is always the option of embracing your natural hair texture and color, but we understand that a girl’s gotta get a little creative with beautiful vegan-self sometimes :))

Your turn: Tell us about your favorite non-toxic & vegan beauty swaps! 


Related: What is Dimethicone?

Are Charcoal Beauty Products Safe?

The Non Toxic Manicure

Letting Go of Synthetic Perfume




Photos: korigami oki kami via Flickr, LVX, Sheswai, Scotch Naturals, NCLA, Scotch Naturals

Peaceful Dumpling Beauty Editor and creator of Bisou du Jour, Mary Hood Luttrell lives with her husband in Corpus Christi, Texas. Mary is a freelance writer and writing and blogging consultant. A lover of whole foods, Mary delights in learning new ways to prepare vegan dishes. Mary also enjoys reading and writing poetry, art journaling, running, and practicing yoga and ballet. Follow Mary on her blog Bisou du Jour, Instagram and Pinterest.


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