METHANOL

What is it?

“Methanol also known as methyl alcohol among others, is a chemical with the formula CH3OH (often abbreviated MeOH). Methanol acquired the name “wood alcohol” because it was once produced chiefly as a byproduct of the destructive distillation of wood. Today, industrial methanol is produced in a catalytic process directly from carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and hydrogen.” Wikipedia

What are the effects?

This substance belongs to the groups:

Methanol is on the Red List* from Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a project of Breast Cancer Prevention Partners (previously the Breast Cancer Fund). They classify methanol as a  developmental toxicant and of occupational concern.

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) identifies that methanol is “toxic if swallowed, is toxic in contact with skin, is toxic if inhaled, causes damage to organs and is a highly flammable liquid and vapour, and is suspected of causing cancer.”

The chemical is restricted for use in cosmetics in the European Union. CosIng has set the “Maximum concentration in ready for use preparation” 5% (as a % of ethanol and isopropyl alcohol). CosIng is the European Commission’s database for information on cosmetic substances and ingredients.

* “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?

Methanol is used as a denaturant (makes the cosmetics unpalatable), fragrance ingredient and solvent (dissolves other substances) in cosmetic products*. The chemical can be found in products such as hair conditioners, eyeliner and eyebrow pencils, facial creams and skin moisturizers, to mention a few.

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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