What is it?

“Bronopol (INN) is an organic compound that is used as an antimicrobial. It is a white solid although commercial samples appear yellow… Bronopol is produced by the bromination of di(hydroxymethyl)nitromethane, which is derived from nitromethane by a nitroaldol reaction. Chemical formula C3H6BrNO4” Wikipedia

What are the effects?

This substance belongs to the groups:

This is a preservative similar to Bronidox.

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has registered Bronopol as “very toxic to aquatic life with long lasting effects, is harmful if swallowed, is harmful in contact with skin, causes serious eye damage, causes skin irritation and may cause respiratory irritation.”

Bronopol is on the Red List* from the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a project of Breast Cancer Prevention Partners (previously the Breast Cancer Fund) because it is possibly contaminated by formaldehyde and nitrosamines.

The Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS ) from the European Union classifies Bronopol as an effective nitrosating agent. Meaning it can contribute to the formation of nitrosamines in products.

The SCCS also concludes “Bronopol decomposes into nitrosating agent(s) and formaldehyde and this may contribute to enhance nitrosamine formation by the catalytic effect of formaldehyde Thus, whenever these preservatives are coformulated with constituents having secondary amine structures, substantial nitrosamine formation is to be expected.”


Even though it is not listed on the content list, Bronopol may contain impurities from:

  • Formaldehyde – linked to cancer, damaged fertility and allergies
  • Nitrosamines – linked to cancer, endocrine disruption, organ system toxicity, developmental toxicity and damaged fertility.

* “The Red List includes chemicals found in personal care products that pose serious, chronic health concerns including cancer, hormone disruption, and reproductive and developmental harm. The list also flags chemicals that are banned or have use restrictions by the U.S. or other world governments, ingredients that adversely impact worker health, and ingredients that are widely used in products marketed to women of color.” – Campaign for Safe Cosmetics

How is it used?

Bronopol is used as an antimicrobial preservative (helps control the growth of micro-organisms on the skin) in cosmetic products*.

The substance can be found in cosmetics like moisturizers, conditioners, sunless tanning products, makeup removers, after shave, facial cleansers, body wash and scrubs.

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”.

Did you find this ingredient in a product?

Comment and share with a link!