Skip to main content

Natural Awakenings Central New Jersey

ASK DR. DESAI? Ingredients to avoid in personal care products, Part 7

by Dr Desai,

This is the seventh of many articles wherein I will discuss ingredients that you may want to avoid in products. Millions of consumers use personal care products such as sunscreens, moisturizers, & shampoos every day. Yet, how many of these consumers either bother to read the ingredients or know what’s in them? In the seventh installation of this series, I wanted to cover a class of compounds called BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) which may be found in personal care products such as lipsticks and moisturizers and as food additives in many food products.

What is BHA or BHT?

BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) is a white or yellowish waxy solid and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene), a white powder are closely related phenolic chemicals.

What is the purpose of BHA or BHT in personal care products?

BHA or BHT are antioxidants that are used to stabilize fats or oils in personal care products.

What kind of products are BHA or BHT found in?

BHA or BHT are found in lipsticks, moisturizers, and many food products.

What health risks are associated with Diethanolamine or DEA compounds?

The Food and Drug Administration considers BHA "generally recognized to be safe" or GRAS, which is the government's standard for safety as a food additive and preservative and has set limits on its use, generally upto 0.02% However, BHA has shown to be carcinogenic in rats and and other animals and the National Institutes of Health's National Toxicology Program has concluded that BHA can be "reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen." International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified BHA as a possible human carcinogen. While the European Commission has considered BHA as a category 1 potential endocrine disruptor. In contrast, evidence for BHT as a carcinogen has not been conclusive. The IARC has listed BHT as unclassifiable for humans but has found that there is limited evidence that it causes cancer in animals. Other data has suggested that BHT might act as a weak endocrine disruptor and may impact organs like the liver, lungs, thyroid and kidney.

So the next time you buy moisturizers, lipsticks or food products try and choose formulas that are BHA or BHT free. Stay tuned for the next monthly installation of this series to learn about what else you need to be on the lookout for and avoid.

Let Dr Desai answer your questions about natural personal care products. Please send your questions to [email protected] or call 908-236-6742. For more information, visit

Receive Free Digital Issues! Sent Monthly To Your Inbox!


Hug A Mate
Dig Business
Learn More About Natural Awakenings
Follow Us On Facebook