Benzalkonium Chloride: Should You Be Using Benzalkonium Chloride?



What Is Benzalkonium Chloride?

Benzalkonium chloride is an ingredient used in skincare and cosmetic products. It is mainly used in products such as shampoos, body washes, cleansers, eye makeup, and some skincare products. 

Benzalkonium chloride is mainly used to prevent the growth of bacteria in the products. However, it can also help to boost the foaming ability of cleansing products, helping to lift dirt and oils so that they can be washed away. 

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Benzalkonium chloride is also used as a preservative in contact lens solutions as well as in antibacterial soaps, antiseptics, and, interestingly, spermicides.

Benzalkonium Chloride

the good: Helps to stabilize products and prevent the spoiling of the ingredients in the product’s formulation.

the not so good: Like any ingredient, it can cause allergies for some people. It can also cause irritation and sensitivity in some people. This is part of the reason why it is limited to concentrations lower than 0.1%.

Who is it for? All skin types except those that have an identified allergy to it.

Synergetic ingredients: Works well with most ingredients.

Keep an eye on: Nothing to keep an eye on here.

Why Is Benzalkonium Chloride Used?

Benzalkonium chloride is used as a foaming and cleansing ingredient as a conditioner and as an anti-bacterial ingredient. 

Generally, it is used for its anti-bacterial effects, helping to stabilize formulations and prevent user contamination. Ensuring the product remains stable and free from bacteria is an important part of the formulation process as it allows for the product to remain safe whilst it is being used and to ensure the longevity of the product. 

In terms of its other benefits, its use as a cleansing and foaming agent as well as a conditioning ingredient allows its users to be diversified. These abilities mainly affect the consistency of the product and how it can be used but don’t necessarily improve the condition of the skin. 

Is Benzalkonium Chloride Safe?

The Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel, a group responsible for evaluating the safety of skincare and cosmetic ingredients has reviewed the research on benzalkonium chloride. The Expert Panel concluded that benzalkonium chloride is safe for its current uses and in the current concentrations in which it is used. It is regulated to be used in concentrations under 0.1%. 

References:Merchel Piovesan Pereira B, Tagkopoulos I. Benzalkonium Chlorides: Uses, Regulatory Status, and Microbial Resistance. Appl Environ Microbiol. 2019;85(13):e00377-19. Published 2019 Jun 17.



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