Hidden Chemicals: BHA

Are Your Cosmetics Dirty Or Clean?

BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) are synthetic antioxidants that are often used as preservatives in cosmetics.


  • lipstick & lip gloss
  • eye shadow
  • moisturizers
  • shampoo and conditioner
  • antiperspirant and deodorant
  • fragrance



Possible Allergen: Both of these compounds can induce allergic reactions in skin (1).  

Cancer:  The International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified BHA and BHT as possible human carcinogens (2)

Encochrine Disruption: The European European Commission on Endocrine Disruptors lists BHA as a priority substance, as evidence suggests it interferes with hormone function (3).

Developmental and Reproductive Toxicity:  Studies carried out found that high dosage exposure of BHA correlated to underdevelopment of the male and female reproductive systems in rats (4)

At this time, the use of BHA is unrestricted in both Canada and the USA, though California state law requires BHA to be listed as a possible cancer causing ingredient.  

Read More

  1. BHA
  2. Coal Tar Dyes
  3. DEA
  4. Dibutyl Phthalate
  5. Formaldehyde
  6. Parabens
  7. Parfum
  8. PEG Compounds
  9. Petrolatum
  10. Siloxanes
  11. Sodium Laureth Sulfate
  12. Triclosan


  1. U.S. National Library of Medicine, in Haz-Map: Occupational Exposure to Hazardous Agents, 2010,
  2. IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans vol. 17 (Paris: International Agency for Research on Cancer), vol. 40 (1986).
  3. Study on Enhancing the Endocrine Disrupter Priority List with a Focus on Low Production Volume Chemicals, Revised Report to DG Environment (Hersholm, Denmark: DHI Water and Environment, 2007)
  4. Jeong SH et al, “Effects of butylated hydroxyanisole on the development and functions of reproductive system in rats,” Toxicology, vol. 208, no. 1, pp. 49-62, 2005.