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Photo – Anne Beck Christensen

First of all, what is PHMB if you have not heard of it?  PHMB is polyhexamenthylene biguanide (what!).  This ingredient can be found in many popular products in the U.S. but has been banned in other countries (similar to hydroquinone).

PHMB is a synthetic polymer used as a broad-spectrum preservative and antimicrobial agent.  It can be found in skin care products, cosmetics, eye-care solutions, wound and surgery care products.

Why is it harmful?

PHMB is reported to have carcinogenic properties that may affect the reproductive system (Oh my!).  The Scientific Committee on Safety reported PHMB is unsafe when used in a concentration higher than 0.3% in a product.  The European Union banned this ingredient labeling it as a Category 2 carcinogenic agent as far back as 2015.

If you are concerned about which product has this ingredient, the following is a list of popular products that still have the ingredient in its formulation:

The 36 products found on the shelves are listed below:

  • Sephora Express Cleansing wipes face, eyes, lips pro-vitamin B5
  • Vichy Pureté Thermale soothing eye make-up remover
  • Vichy Pureté Thermale 3 in 1 one step cleansing micellar solution
  • La Roche-Posay Micellar Water sensitive skin
  • La Roche-Posay Physiological micellar solution sensitive eyes
  • La Roche-Posay Respectissime Waterproof eye makeup remover sensitive eyes
  • La Roche-Posay Physiological eye-make up remover sensitive eyes
  • La Roche-Posay Solution Micellaire Physiologique sensitive skin
  • Garnier skin naturals Micellar Cleansing Water normal & sensitive skin
  • Garnier skin naturals New pure active micellar cleansing water
  • Garnier skin naturals Micellar cleansing wipes
  • L´Occitane en Provence Milk veil
  • L´Occitane en Provence  Gentle toner enriched with shea
  • L´Occitane en Provence Ultra rich shower cream
  • L´Occitane en Provence Amande milk concentrate
  • L´Occitane en Provence Delicious hands with almond milk
  • L´Occitane en Provence Dry skin foot cream 15% shea butter
  • L´Occitane en Provence L´Occtitan after-shave balm for men
  • L´Occitane en Provence Cade after-shave balm for men
  • L´Occitane en Provence Bavx after-shave balm for men
  • L´Oreal Paris Eye & lip extress make-up remover
  • L´Oreal Paris Micellar cleansing water
  • Garnier skin naturals Micellar Cleansing Water
  • Garnier skin naturals Eye make-up remover 2in1
  • Embryolisse Lotion Micellaire*
  • Panduro Hobby Junior Face paint crayons*
  • HH Simonsen  Gray / Mud*
  • Plaisir Cleansing facial wipes – all skin types*
  • Dennis Knudsen Skin complex facial cleansing wipes – all skin types*
  • Satessa Fugtige plejeservietter aloe vera*
  • Satessa Fugtige plejeservietter sensitiv*
  • Biocura Fugtgivende renseservietter – til ansigt og øjne – med aloe vera ekstrakt*
  • Biocura Fugtgivende renseservietter – til ansigt og øjne – med provitamin B5*
  • Tromborg Anti cellulite serum*
  • Helosan Original*
  • Helosan Fodsalve*

*The manufacturers of these products have informed The Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals that either they no longer using PHMB, that there is a mistake on the label, or they have withdrawn the product from stores.

To read more on this topic, click on the following articles:

Hayes, M. (2017). Bustle, “What is PHMB & Is It Bad?  Why this skin care ingredient isn’t banned in the USA”. Retrieved August 2, 2017, from https://www.bustle.com/p/what-is-phmb-is-it-bad-why-this-skin-care-ingredient-isnt-banned-in-the-usa-70037

Sondergaard, A. (2016). Forgrugerradt Taenk Kemi, “Banned and potentially cancer-causing substance still found in personal care products”. Retrieved August 2, 2017, from http://kemi.taenk.dk/bliv-groennere/banned-and-potentially-cancer-causing-substance-still-found-personal-care-products

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