Other ConcernsUse restrictions (high), Non-reproductive organ system toxicity (moderate), Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs) (high), Occupational hazards (high), and Contamination concerns (high)
SYNONYMSBIFORMAL, BIFORMYL, DIFORMYL, ETHANDIAL, ETHANE-1,2-DIONE, ETHANEDIAL, ETHANEDIONE, GLYOXAL, GLYOXAL (FORMALDEHYDE RELEASER), GLYOXYLALDEHYDE, and OXALALDEHYDE
Restricted: EWG VERIFIED products cannot contain this ingredient without adequate substantiation
Glyoxal is an antimicrobial preservative that 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. In the U.S. approximately 20% of cosmetics and personal care products contain a formaldehyde-releaser and the frequency of contact allergy to these ingredients is much higher among Americans compared to studies in Europe.
See how this product scores for common concerns.
HIGHAllergies & Immunotoxicity
LOWDevelopmental and Reproductive Toxicity
- DATA SOURCES
Products with this Ingredient
|Known human any toxicant or allergen||Open scientific literature|
|Human skin toxicant or allergen - strong evidence||Cosmetic Ingredient Review Assessments|
|Limited evidence of immune system toxicity or allergies||CPS&Q - Classification & Labelling|
Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs)
|Classified as irritant||CPS&Q - Classification & Labelling|
|Allowed workplace exposures restricted to low doses||CPS&Q - Classification & Labelling|
|Limited evidence of occupational hazards||CPS&Q - Classification & Labelling|
|Single case study detailing occupational hazards||National Library of Medicine HazMap|
Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive)
|Classified as a high human health priority||Environment Canada Domestic Substance List|
|Classified as not expected to be potentially toxic or harmful||Environment Canada Domestic Substance List|
|Recommended restricted in cosmetics - use, concentration, or manufacturing restrictions - Product type restrictions or differences noted in safety assessment by industry panel||Cosmetic Ingredient Review Assessments|
|Restricted in cosmetics (recommendations or requirements) - use, concentration, or manufacturing restrictions - any||CosIng|
|Determined safe for use in cosmetics, subject to concentration or use limitations - Safe for use in cosmetics with some qualifications||Cosmetic Ingredient Review Assessments|
|Cancer - limited evidence||Open scientific literature|
|Mutagen - limited evidence||CPS&Q - Classification & Labelling|
|Risk assessment method deficiencies and data gaps - Maximum reported "as used" concentration is basis of safety assessment by industry safety panel (Cosmetic Ingredient Review, CIR) - implicit safe concentration limit in product||Cosmetic Ingredient Review Assessments|
|1716 studies in PubMed science library may include information on the toxicity of this chemical||NLM PubMed|
|Not suspected to be an environmental toxin||Environment Canada Domestic Substance List|
Persistence and bioaccumulation
|Not suspected to be persistent||Environment Canada Domestic Substance List|
|Not suspected to be bioaccumulative||Environment Canada Domestic Substance List|
- Open scientific/peer reviewed literature
- CIR (Cosmetic Ingredient Review). 2006. CIR Compendium, containing abstracts, discussions, and conclusions of CIR cosmetic ingredient safety assessments. Washington DC.
- CPS&Q (Consumer Products Safety & Quality) formely known as ECB (European Chemicals Bureau). 2008. Classification and Labelling: Chemicals: Annex VI of Directive 67/548/EEC through the 31st ATP.
- NLM (National Library of Medicine). 2006. HazMap — Occupational Exposure to Hazardous Agents.
- EC (Environment Canada). 2008. Domestic Substances List Categorization. Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) Environmental Registry.
- European Commission. 2013. Cosing, the European Commission database with information on cosmetic substances and ingredients. Accessed on March 1, 2013 at http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/cosmetics/cosing/ .
- NLM (National Library of Medicine). 2012. PubMed online scientific bibliography data. http://www.pubmed.gov.
Cosmetics and personal care products are not required to be tested for safety before being allowed on the market. The Skin Deep® scoring system was designed to help the public understand whether a product is safe to use or whether it contains ingredients of concern.
Every product and ingredient in Skin Deep gets a two-part score – one for hazard and one for data availability. The safest products score well by both measures, with a low hazard rating and a fair or better data availability rating.HOW WE DETERMINE SCORES
The Skin Deep ingredient hazard score, from 1 to 10, reflects known and suspected hazards linked to the ingredients. The EWG VERIFIED™ mark means a product meets EWG’s strictest criteria for transparency and health.
The Skin Deep data availability rating reflects the number of scientific studies about the product or ingredient in the published scientific literature.