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Today's Chemical:


EWG Skin Deep Hazard Score:


What is it:

TBHQ is a phenolic preservative and stabilizer used in cosmetics, varnishes, lacquers, and resins. 

What are its risks:

  • A number of animal studies have found it to be mutagenic or carcinogenic at high doses.  (Source)(Source)
  • Potential skin or eye irritant at full strength.  (Source)

Steph's Opinion:

TBHQ is a phenol, so it does have the potential to interfere with the way estrogen and estrogen receptors work in the body.  There have been no studies to asses the possible estrogenic activity of this chemical.  Couple this fact with its potentially mutagenic properties, and I'd deem this an ingredient to avoid. 

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Reader Comments (5)

I have just come across your blog whilst researching about ingredients for my personal products. Thank you Stephanie for all your research.

It seems that a lot of preservatives are bad, but I do add wtaer to my creams as i prefer the feel of them and they are less greasy so would need to add one. What preservative woudl you suggest? I use to use the raw shea butter on my skin but it takes a while to absorb in.

Also I heard Vit E is a preservative so could this be used and how long woudl i be able to keep my creams for?

Thank you, keep it up. Pleeeease!

Thu, May 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLoulou

Vitamin E is a great antioxidant that will keep your oils from spoiling, but it won't protect you from bacterial growth.

Fri, June 1, 2012 | Registered Commenter[Stephanie Greenwood]

heads up TBHQ isn't just in listed products above, I'm finding it in alot of food items.i.e. candy, crackers, etc. yum! this onslaught of chemicals in our everyday products is criminal. thanks for your research and info, keep up the good work.

Sun, August 12, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterchristie

I have found TBHQ in all bulk cooking oils sold in the local restaurant supply shop. This shop supplies a great majority of eating establishments in the second largest city in our state. When i asked if they could please order bulk oils without this preservative i was given an unequivocal no. The reason was that they ordered what was lest expensive. I am afraid to eat out.

Tue, May 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDana

Dear Sir:

Last year, 2016, I began scrutinizing the ingredients in Halloween candy.

Some companies are putting in TBHQ and PBHG.


Susan Hoelzel

Mon, September 18, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSusan C. Hoelzel

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