What is it?

“Ammonia or azane is a compound of nitrogen and hydrogen with the formula NH3. The simplest pnictogen hydride, ammonia is a colourless gas with a characteristic pungent smell.” Wikipedia

What are the effects?

This substance belongs to the groups:

This page refers both to and ammonia aqueous (with water in the formula) and ammonia anhydrous (no water).

These substances are restricted for use in cosmetics within the European Union. CosIng has set the “Maximum concentration in ready for use preparation” to 6% (as NH3). CosIng is the European Commission database for information on cosmetic substances and ingredients.

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) have registered that ammonium hydroxide (ammonia that contains water in the formula)  “causes severe skin burns, eye damage and is very toxic to aquatic life, and may cause respiratory irritation.”

Ammonia anhydrous (no water) is classified by ECHA as a substance that “causes severe skin burns and eye damage, is toxic if inhaled, and is a flammable gas… is toxic to aquatic life with long lasting effects and may cause respiratory irritation.”

How is it used?

Ammonia is used for its properties of buffering (stabilizes the pH) and masking (reduces or inhibits the basic odor of products) in cosmetic products*. It is common to find it in cosmetics such as hair products and grooming products.

It is also common to find this substance in pharmaceuticals and cleaning products, for example used as an ingredient in window cleaners. Other reported uses are in the meat industry, where it is mainly used for its pH properties when preparing beef.

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”.

Read about the other ingredients.


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