Benzoic Acid in Cosmetics Not for Cats


Benzoic Acid as Preservative

benzoic acid in cosmetics

Nostradamus, Michel de Nostredame (1503-1566)

The first Benzoic acid came from heating gum benzoin.

Nostrodamus, 16th century physician, did this. However, this chemical converts to the toxic benzene when combined with vitamin c. Benzene causes injury to the brain and spinal cord. One might wonder if his famous predictions were enhanced by benzoic-benzene neurotoxicity.

Today, we make benzoic acid from toluene, also a well known neurotoxin.

Cobalt and Manganese are part of this process. All in all, none of these, even in trace amounts, has health at its core.  Cats will die from exposure to 1% benzoic acid. If there is vitamin C around the mixture will form benzene, also a neurotoxin. 

Benzoic acid generates phenol by a number a reactions. Phenol begins the synthesis of nylon. In general, this molecule does not fit well into mammalian physiology.

Benzoic acid as a topical fungicide has a real use, often used to treat skin conditions. But its biggest use is with food preservation. About 139,000 tons of Benzoic acid are made in the US annually. That is enough to give almost every one in the USA one pound. We limit foods to 0.01% benzoic acid. Cosmetics may have 0.5-2.5%. For your information, keep benzoic acid out of reach of cats. Felines lack the capacity metabolize benzoate-like chemicals safely.

Most believe benzoic acid injures the skin and eyes, because going above certain percentage levels in  air results in irritation.

Nevertheless, its wide-scale use in cosmetic and food manufacturing keeps a ready market for its manufacture. We know that a tincture of benzoin has multiple uses in medicine. It aids in dressing changes of complex wounds. All these uses result from its powerful suppression of bacterial growth. Like all preservatives, each has a relative toxicity between man and microbe. Therefore, Shelf life vs availability creates the business of food and cosmetic preservatives.

toxic to cats
reacts with ascorbic acid (vit C to form Benzene)
EWG: 3