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2D structural formula of Sodium hydroxide


What is it?

“Sodium hydroxide, also known as lye and caustic soda,is an inorganic compound with formula NaOH. It is a white solid ionic compound consisting of sodium cations Na+ and hydroxide anions OH−.” Wikipedia

What are the effects?

This substance belongs to the groups:

Sodium hydroxide is restricted for use in cosmetics in the European Union. The substance is listed in anexx III by CosIng, the European Commission database for information on cosmetic substances and ingredients.

Sodium hydroxide is on the Red List* from Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a project of Breast Cancer Prevention Partners (previously the Breast Cancer Fund). They list sodium hydroxide as an occupational concern.

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) identifies that sodium hydroxide “causes severe skin burns and eye damage.”

* “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?

Sodium hydroxide is used as pH adjuster and denaturant (makes the cosmetics unpalatable) in cosmetic products. The substance is very alkaline and used to lower the pH value. It can be found in products such as moisturizers, nail cuticle solvents, facial treatments, bar soaps, shampoos, hair straighteners, anti aging products, sunscreens, conditioners, tooth whitening products, baby lotions, after shaves, and body firming 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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