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Hydrogen Peroxide

Nasty Ingredients
Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is a chemical compound used for its disinfectant, antiviral and antibacterial properties in a range of consumer products. While regulations for safe use vary in different countries, it is a known skin irritant and may be harmful if inhaled at moderate or high concentrations.

Hydrogen peroxide is a chemical compound that occurs naturally as small amounts of gas in the air. As a synthesized chemical, it is used in many household medicinal products at low concentrations (typically 3-9%). Upon rinsing and gargling or topical application, hydrogen peroxide oxidizes and produces free radicals which leads to oxidative damage to proteins and membrane lipids. This may inactivate and destroy pathogens and may prevent spreading of infection. Other uses for this chemical include as a bleaching or deodorizing agent in foods, textiles and personal care products; as a disinfectant in some cleaning products; and in chemical anaylsis and wastewater treatment. A highly concentrated form of hydrogen peroxide is also used in rocket propulsion.

Regulation of the safe use of hydrogen peroxide varies in different countries, based on the use and concentration. Its use in cosmetics is banned in Japan, and restricted in both Canada and the EU. The US Food & Drug Administration classify it as GRAS (Generally Recognised As Safe) as a food additive. Effects of low-dilution exposure to hydrogen peroxide are typically skin irritation at the site of contact. Though only likely to occur in an occupational or industrial environment, exposure to concentrated hydrogen peroxide can be toxic if taken by mouth, inhaled, or if it comes into contact with the eyes or skin. Personal protective equipment is essential to ensure the safety of any workers likely to be exposed. Little is known about the long-term adverse effects of exposure to hydrogen peroxide.

Other names: H2O2, Hydrogen Dioxide, hydrogenii peroxidum (EP)

Chemical class: Inorganics (Including minerals and oxides)


DermNet NZ. Hydrogen Peroxide.

CosIng Annex III. List of Substances Which Cosmetic Products Must Not Contain Except Subject to the Restrictions Laid Down (2021).

United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA). Food Additives: Hydrogen Peroxide.

INCI Name:
Hydrogen Peroxide
Antimicrobial Agent
Common name:
Hydrogen Peroxide
EWG score: The EWG score is a hazard score ranging from 1-2 (low hazard), 3-6 (moderate hazard) and 7-10 (high hazard) published by the Environmental Working Group. Their data is sourced from the Skin Deep® database and studies published in open scientific literature.
2 - 5 (depends on usage)