[Ingredient] Disodium EDTA

cosmetic ingredient disodium edta

Disodium EDTA (Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid – yeah, we can’t pronounce it either) is a less than desirable preservative. It is generally used in place of parabens so the product can claim a ‘paraben free’ status. It can also be used as a stabilizer or to enhance the foaming of a product.

It can also act as a penetration enhancer. Although it doesn’t seem to penetrate well itself, it does break down the skin’s natural protective barrier, making it easier for other potentially harmful ingredients to sink deeper into your skin and perhaps even into your bloodstream.

Disodium EDTA is also a known carcinogen and is formaldehyde-releasing in its function.


Can be harmful if swallowed or if it comes in contact with the skin. Can cause skin irritations and serious eye irritation and damage – which is very concerning considering it’s found in many eye creams.

Harmful if inhaled and may cause respiratory irritation. Organ toxicity can also occur through prolonged or repeated exposure.

It’s also quite harmful to aquatic life with long lasting effects.


  • Known carcinogen (a substance capable of causing cancer in living tissue).
  • It is found in a lot of products – from eye creams, to moisturisers and even baby products. You could be applying it multiple times a day through the use of different products.
  • There is still a lot of work that needs to be done to identify the long term effects however, given the research available to us today, it is one ingredient you should seriously consider not using.

Ingredient Reviews are designed to provide easy to understand information relating to ingredients that can be found in skincare and other body products.

While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information provided, no guarantees are made. We do our best to cite medical journals and clinical studies to substantiate all information and claims. In some cases, we may not have a lot of information to work with in which case, we may provide 'general' advice based on the information we do have available.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding the information provided here, please feel free to contact us.

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