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BHT (Butylated Hydroxy Tolulene)

Today's Chemical:

BHT (Butylated Hydroxytolulene)

What is it:

A fat-soluble anti-oxidant and preservative in foods, cosmetics, and industrial compounds.

Why it's a risk:

  • When the body metabolizes BHT, it creates free radicals in your body that can create damage to cell's DNA (Source, Source)  
  • One study found that it works both to promote and inhibit tumors, depending on what other chemicals are present in the body. (Source)
  • Is known to be an estrogen mimicker.  (Source)
  • Is known to penetrate the skin (Source)
  • Carries a small risk of skin sensitization or allergic reaction (Source)

Types of products it's in:

Lipstick, eyeshadow, lip gloss, foundation, moisturizers, lip balm

A few brands that use BHT:




Irish Spring




Cover Girl

Pysicians Formula

Steph's Opinion:

Some ingredients I'm kind of on the fence about.  This is not one of them.  This is definitely an ingredient that I personally avoid, especially because of its risk of being a xenoestrogen, because it's fat soluble, and because it's proven to be absorbed through the skin.

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Reader Comments (8)

It's in every chewing/bubble gum too. Gross! :(

Fri, April 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMe!

Is this the same BHT that is used as a food preservative?

Fri, September 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCharlotte

Yes, this is the same BHT used in foods.

Sun, September 5, 2010 | Registered Commenter[Stephanie Greenwood]

Oh great, and it's fat-soluble... Congrats, another agent if my man-tits.

Mon, February 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCed

So I just found this ingredient in my hair grease. Softee light and natural hair grease. So this is bad?

Mon, June 10, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterempress1love

it's in my son's favorite Rice Krispies;(

Fri, June 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTatiana

It's in a new hair product I just bought. It hails from the Dominican republic (EMERGENCIA TRATAMIENTO SUAVIZANTE INTENSO CONTROL VOLUMEN ) and is all the rave on youtube. Purchased with considering the ingredients. Noticed the strong menthol/eucalyptus smell and feel on hands as applied it to my hair. Long behold I found BHT, when after researching on the web was the first characteristic indicator of this chemical when added to products containing extracted fats from fruit and plant material.

Sat, September 12, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKiki

It's used in hair oil brands like Patanjali kesh kanti in India. Is it harmful?

Mon, November 21, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterprateek

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