We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Are the Uses of DMDM Hydantoin?

By Maggie J. Hall
Updated May 21, 2024
Our promise to you
All The Science is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At All The Science, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Dimethylol dimethyl hydantoin (DMDM hydantoin), is a common preservative ingredient found in cosmetics production, construction materials, and household products. The chemical compound is typically added to products in minute quantities as an antimicrobial agent. Certain consumer advocates fear that when combined with other chemicals, the substance may cause cancer. Some individuals may develop skin irritations while using topical products containing this chemical formulation.

Other names for the compound include 1,2-demithylol-5,5 dimethyl hydantoin and dimethyl-2,4-imidazolidinedione. DMDM hydantoin is generally an organic compound that prevents bacterial, fungal, and viral development. By regulation standards, products usually contain only 0.1% to 0.6% of the substance. Different physical forms of the compound include a colorless liquid, a crystalline powder, or white to grey colored flakes. The compound consists of dimethyl hydantoin and formaldehyde.

Common cosmetic products containing DMDM hydantoin include hair conditioners, gels, and shampoos. Manufacturers also frequently use the substance in cream and lotion-type skin care products. Many industries incorporate the compound for its fungal and mold resistant properties. The substance might accompany ingredients used for adhesives, inks, and latex paints. Herbicides, paper, and photography supplies commonly contain this ingredient.

In addition to DMDM hydantoin, some cosmetic compounds may contain dimethicone, methylparaben, and formaldehyde. Dimethicone is an oily emollient used for skin softening. Methylparaben and formaldehyde are also antimicrobial preservatives. Formaldehyde, or CH2O, is a known carcinogen. Other names for the chemical are formalin, methyl aldehyde, morbicid acid, and oxymethylene.

DMDM hydantoin, and similar substances that include diazolidynyl urea and quarternium-15, draw concern from consumer protection specialists because they have the ability to release formaldehyde. Advocates believe this reaction occurs continuously and slowly, regardless of environmental factors. The formaldehyde then reverts into a pungent, harmful gas. Industrialists claim that formaldehyde release only occurs when ingredients undergo high temperature exposure. Federal regulatory agencies limit the amount of formaldehyde releasing agents products may contain, but environmentalists argue that there are no limitations on these potentially harmful chemical reactions.

Some individuals develop allergic skin reactions when exposed to this preservative. These irritations typically appear as eczema or contact dermatitis. The chemical substance is generally easily removed from the skin by washing with soap and water. Health care providers suggest that once irritation occurs, individuals abstain from using products containing this ingredient. DMDM hydantoin is known to possess irritant properties and chemical workers can develop eye, skin, and lung irritations when working with the substance in large quantities.

All The Science is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By anon333440 — On May 05, 2013

I always consider what I learned in Environmental Psych in college: the concept of "Clinical Ecology" --the idea is that if your toiletry products contain only 1/10th of 1% of a chemical preservative, then that doesn't sound too bad. BUT when you consider the total load of all the cosmetics, lotions, deodorant/perfume, hair products, as well as chemical cleaning products, air fresheners, etc., we use in our homes, then there may be a significant level of chemical load on our bodies. Something to consider, especially with the higher incidence of cancer these days.

It always leads me back to, "Better safe than sorry," so that more & more often I'm going for natural, preservative-free products and using good old dish soap to clean around the house (floors, tubs, sinks, fixtures--it gets your pots shiny, doesn't it?).

By jennythelib — On Aug 27, 2011

@MissDaphne - Deep breath! Look around. Most of look all right, yes? So we haven't been poisoned by our shampoo yet.

First, here's the thing about the urine - it's where toxins are *supposed* to go. It means that your kidneys filtered it just like they should.

Yeah, there are some gross chemicals out there. You can seek lower-chemical products at health food stores or nicer grocery stores (my Wegman's for instance, has a nice natural section). Some things you can even make yourself. Or you can take the step I take - I realized that I only really need to wash my hair every other day. Just like that, I have reduced my shampoo-related chemical exposure by 50%!

You can also find websites that rate cosmetics and personal care items by their chemical composition and the toxicity of those chemicals. The one I use is called HealthyStuff. Look at it occasionally if you're in the market for a new hand lotion or whatever, but in general, try not to worry so much!

By MissDaphne — On Aug 26, 2011

Cosmetics seriously contain * formaldehyde*? Isn't that incredibly toxic? I keep reading that hundred of chemicals are found in the urine of babies, pregnant women, you name it. BPA in canned goods, who knows what in my shampoo - how can a mom protect herself and her family?

All The Science, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

All The Science, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.