Polyaminopropyl Biguanide (PHMB) is a disinfectant and a preservative used in many sunscreen, cosmetics, including BB and CC creams and in cleaning solutions for contact lenses. It is also an ingredient in many deodorant body sprays.
Even though PHMB has antibacterial properties, it has also been shown to be harmful. There's evidence based on results of studies on humans and animals that is carcinogenic (causing cancer), mutagenic (causing gene mutation), and toxic. It's suspected primarily of affecting the reproductive system.
Based on the data available, the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) has also concluded that PHMB is not safe when used as a preservative in a concentration higher than 0.3-percent in cosmetic products. And in the EU, PHMB was banned in personal-care products after being labeled a Category 2 Carcinogenic Agent in 2015.
The safe use could be based on a lower use concentration and/or restrictions with regard to cosmetic products' categories.
Where is PHMB banned?
PHMB can still be found in products, even from major brands, and in many sunscreens and cosmetics in the United States.
The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) classifies Polyaminopropyl Biguanide as “fatal if inhaled, causes damage to organs through prolonged or repeated exposure, is very toxic to aquatic life with long lasting effects, is harmful if swallowed, causes serious eye damage, is suspected of causing cancer and may cause an allergic skin reaction.”