Preservative Sensitization—Safety With and Safety Without

Olivia B. Hughes, Andrea D. Maderal, Antonella Tosti

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Preservatives serve the necessary purpose of preventing microbial contamination and maintaining cosmetic product integrity and safety; however, there are limitations to their use. Preservatives, including formaldehyde (FA) and formaldehyde releasers (FRPs), isothiazolinones, iodopropynyl butylcarbamate (IPBC), methyldibromoglutaronitrile (MDBGN), parabens, thimerosal, and triclosan, are a leading cause of allergic and irritant contact dermatitis, and there is increasing evidence that some may even cause toxic effects including endocrinological effects. One approach to minimizing these effects is the use of self-preserving or preservative-free cosmetic formulations. This article will outline these preservatives, their role in cosmetics, scientific evidence for allergy and toxic effects, and potential alternatives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)345-358
Number of pages14
JournalCurrent Treatment Options in Allergy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Contact dermatitis
  • Cosmetics
  • Endocrine effects
  • Preservative free
  • Preservatives
  • Toxicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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