Safety Information

Expert Panel for Cosmetic Ingredient Safety

The safety of quaternium-15 has been assessed several times by the Expert Panel for Cosmetic Ingredient Safety (Expert Panel). In its 2017 review, the Expert Panel acknowledged that quaternium-15 can release formaldehyde,a skin sensitizer, in cosmetic formulations, but concluded that the ingredient is safe in the present practices of use and concentration (i.e., up to 0.2%). 

The Expert Panel evaluated data on the absorption of quaternium-15 through the skin, concluding, in a laboratory study, that it did not cause developmental effects when applied dermally and is not genotoxic or a dermal irritant at concentrations above 5%. However, various studies completed in North America have indicated an increase in sensitization to quaternium-15 among patients. Due to concerns about potential skin sensitization to quaternium-15, the Expert Panel limits its use in cosmetics and personal care products to up to 0.2%.

Quaternium-15 is listed in Annex II, and may not be used in cosmetics products marketed in Europe. It is listed under the International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI) name Methenamine 3-chloroallylochloride (entry 1386).



What Is It?

Quaternium-15 is a cream-colored powder used to formulate a variety of cosmetics and personal care products, including lotions, eye makeup, facial makeup, shampoos and baby products.

Why Is It Used?

Quaternium-15 is used as a preservative to kill, or prevent or inhibit the growth and reproduction of microorganisms. It is effective against yeast, molds and bacteria. The use of preservatives in cosmetics and personal care products protects them from inadvertent contamination by the consumer during use. Quaternium-15 is also used as an antistatic agent.