What is it?

“Aminomethyl propanol is a clear, colorless liquid that neutralizes acids to form salts and water. It is an alkanolamine.” – Wikipedia

What are the effects?

This substance belongs to the groups:

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) identifies that this substance

“causes serious eye irritation, is harmful to aquatic life with long lasting effects and causes skin irritation, causes serious eye damage.”

Apart from the ingredients actual side effects, aminomethyl propanol could also form nitrosamines in products.

To avoid the formation of nitrosamines it should never be mixed in the same cosmetic formulations as nitrosating agents. However, as nitrosating agents, i.e. all nitrites, are very common to cosmetic ingredient compounds, especially in preservatives, it is unfortunately quite common that the reaction occurs.

The formed nitrosamines are one of the most well-known carcinogens: ca 90 % of all nitrosamines tested are said to be carcinogenic.  

This substance is restricted for use in cosmetic products within the European Union as is belongs to the chemical group “monoalkanolamines and their salts”. The restrictions say

“Maximum secondary amine content: 0.5%”, and it should not be used with nitrosating systems; “Minimum purity: 99%, Maximum secondary amine content: 0.5% (applies to raw materials), Maximum nitrosamine content: 50 microgram/kg – Keep in nitrite-free containers.”


Even though it is not listed on the list of ingredients, products with aminomethyl propanol may contain impurities from:

  • Nitrosamines –  Linked to endocrine disruption, cancer, organ system toxicity, and is prohibited to use in cosmetics in the EU and Canada.

How is it used?

Aminomethyl propanol is used as a pH adjuster and buffer-solution in all kinds of cosmetic products*. It has been found in hair care, skin care, and body care products.

In its use as a  pH adjuster, mainly in hair colors and hair-straightening formulation that a strong adjuster,  it can be found in concentrations above 12%. This is well-above the non-toxic level.

We use the European Commissions definition of Cosmetics:
“Cosmetics range from everyday hygiene products such as soap, shampoo, deodorant, and toothpaste to luxury beauty items including perfumes and makeup”.

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