What is it?

“Polyacrylamide (IUPAC poly(2-propenamide) or poly(1-carbamoylethylene), abbreviated as PAM) is a polymer (-CH2CHCONH2-) formed from acrylamide subunits.” Wikipedia

What are the effects?

This substance belongs to the groups:

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a project of Breast Cancer Prevention Partners (previously the Breast Cancer Fund) is concerned about polyacrylamide as it can break down to acrylamide. It is not the polyacrylamide in itself that is of concern, rather that the substance is made up out of repeated molecules of acrylamide.

The European Union has banned acrylamide in cosmetics and the substance is also on the Candidate List since 2010. The EU also limit the amount of acrylamide allowed in products containing the ingredient polyacrylamide. The Unites States does currently not regulate the amount of acrylamide allowed in products containing polyacrylamide.


Even though it is not listed on the ingredient labels, products with polyacrylamide may contain toxic impurities from:

  • Acrylamide – linked to cancer, organ system toxicity, irritation, damaged fertility, and development toxicity. Acrylamide is on ECHA’s candidate list of Substances of Very High Concern and is banned orrestricted for use in cosmetics in many parts of the world.

How is it used?

In cosmetic products*, polyacrylamide is used as a stabilizer (improves the formulation’s stability and shelf-life) and fixer. The substance can be found in a wide variety of products, including moisturizers, anti-aging products, color cosmetics, hair products, and sunscreens and lotions.

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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Read about the other ingredients.