Benzalkonium Chloride


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Benzalkonium Chloride

Biocide, preservative and surfactant associated with severe skin, eye, and respiratory irritation and allergies, benzalkonium chloride is a sensitizer especially dangerous for people with asthma or skin conditions such as eczema. Benzalkonium chloride is found in many household disinfectants and cleaning supplies. Regular use of products containing antimicrobials such as benzalkonium chloride could leads to the development of resistant bacteria in homes and food processing facilities.

Function(s): Antimicrobial Agent; Antistatic Agent; Cosmetic Biocide; Deodorant Agent; Surfactant -Suspending Agent; PRESERVATIVE

Other names: Alkyl Dimethyl Benzyl Ammonium Chloride; Benzalkonium Chloride Solution; Quaternary Ammonium Compounds, Benzylcoco Alkyldimethyl, Chlorides; Alkyl Dimethylbenzyl Ammonium Chloride; Alkyldimethyl (Phenylmethyl) Quaternary Ammonium Chlorides; Ammonyx; Arquad Dmmcb-75; Barquat Mb-50; Bayclean; Benirol; Benzalkonium A

Source:  EWG

Source: EWG

Overall hazard:
Cancer concerns:
Developmental & reproductive toxicity: ○○○○○○○○○○○○ 
Allergies & immunotoxicity:
Use restrictions:


Natural or synthetic?


What Is It?

In cosmetics and personal care products, Benzalkonium Chloride is used in the formulation of shampoos, personal cleanliness products, skin cleansers, and skin care and eye makeup preparations.

Why is it used in cosmetics and personal care products?

Benzalkonium Chloride is used to prevent or inhibit the growth and reproduction of microorganisms in finished products. It also functions as a foam booster and as a detergent, where it helps water to mix with oil and dirt so that they can be rinsed away.

Safety Information: 

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) permits Benzalkonium Chloride to be used in Over-the-Counter (OTC) first aid antiseptic drug products. The safety of Benzalkonium Chloride has been assessed by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel. The CIR Expert Panel evaluated scientific data and concluded that Benzalkonium Chloride, at concentrations up to 0.1% free, active ingredient, was safe as a cosmetic ingredient.

More safety Information: 

CIR Review: Benzalkonium chloride was nonmutagenic in several different cell assays. It was a skin and ocular irritant at concentrations greater than 0.1%. This cosmetic ingredient was not a sensitizer to humans at concentrations of 0.1%, but may be a sensitizer among individuals with diseased skin. It was concluded that Benzalkonium Chloride can be safely used as antimicrobial agent at concentrations up to 0.1%.

FDA: Link to Tentative Final Monograph for Topical Antimicrobial Drug Products

Benzalkonium Chloride is listed in the Cosmetics Directive of the European Union in Annex III and in Annex VI. It is authorized for use at maximum concentrations of 3% in rinse-off hair care products and 0.1% in other products, and must be labeled with conditions of use and warnings.

Link to the EU Cosmetic Regulation:


BNoéma Editor