What Is BHT?

I’ve been on a tear lately doing all that I can to cover various skin care ingredients. Reason being, I want you to understand what’s in the products that you use and the impact that they have on things. Knowing what you’re putting into your body is super important and one of the reasons why I’m covering the ingredient BHT today. Trust me, you’ve seen it and you’ve used it before. Keep reading to learn what I’m talking about.

What Is BHT

What Is BHT And Is IT Bad For You?

When reading an ingredient list, you may eventually come across some familiar abbreviation, “BHT.” This stands for butylated hydroxytoluene. Sounds complex? Keep reading on, and find out what this is and what it does. I’ve covered it all, just for you.

The Origin

Butylated hydroxytoluene is an organic compound that’s used as an antioxidant in many skin and beauty applications. It can be produced by phytoplankton, green algae, and some cyanobacteria.

Additionally, it’s also synthetically produced and is a whitish to yellow crystalline substance. You’re probably thinking or asking yourself, “Why should I care?” Well, because it may or may not be good for you. Don’t think it doesn’t matter because it most definitely does. Anyway, back to the topic at hand. What else do you need to know about this ingredient? Well…

This ingredient has antioxidative properties and it is mainly used in foods that contain fats. BHT is also widely used throughout the pharmaceutical industry and the cosmetics industry due to its strong antioxidative ability. Remember, oxidation is bad for products, which is why you need ingredients like this.


The butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) is used in makeup and other skincare products like lipstick, blush, foundation, moisturizers, cleansers, and even perfumes.

In reference to cosmetics products, its main function is to prevent the oxidation and deterioration of the products. This is the oxidations that are commonly caused by free radicals. These are actually reactive oxygen species (ROS) (oxygen molecules that have lost one or more electrons, which have made them highly reactive).

It’s also used as an antioxidative agent in many foods and is rated as a food additive with the number E321.

The Effects

Since BHT is a powerful antioxidant, it is used in skin care products, in many foods and pharmaceutical products. It acts by neutralizing the free radicals and does so by donating a hydrogen atom, turning the peroxy radical into a hydroperoxide.

There are some researchers out there making claims that BHT has anti-viral properties given that it acts on the membranes of the viruses, effectively eliminating the virus. While I cannot confirm that, it’s what some of the experts are saying these days. I guess you’ll have to form your own conclusions.

Is It Toxic?

Generally speaking, this is rated as Generally Rated As Safe (GRAS) by the FDA. This means that it is safe to use as a food additive in concentrations of up to 0.02%.

Some researchers have looked into the possible toxicity of this ingredient and there are some interesting findings. There is no strong evidence pointing to it being a possible allergy-causing ingredient.

Reason being, the absorption of BHT through the skin is very limited. There is, however, a concern regarding the oral intake of a higher dose of BHT, which in such case can lead to adverse effects on the liver and kidneys. So, if you’re orally consuming processed foods that contain BHT, then you’ll want to cut down on them when and where possible.

There are some studies that have linked this ingredient as a carcinogenic and some that have linked BHT to being an anti-carcinogenic compound. It seems to contradict, but this is possible with many substances when taken orally or absorbed through (or simply those that come in contact with) the skin.

It can be considered a carcinogenic compound if ingested in high doses, as it acts on cytochrome C, which is linked to overactive apoptosis. Trust me this is no good and something that you’ll want to avoid for sure. It’s also linked to being an anti-carcinogenic, as its antioxidative properties prevent photocarcinogenesis. Sounds scientific and complex, that’s because it is, all you need to know is that you need to read the labels of everything that you use.


BHT is found in many foods, cosmetics, skin care products, personal care products, and also as an additive in pesticides, automotive oils. It’s commonly used as an ingredient in many plastics and rubbers. You’ll also find it in many household products and is even used in medical research at times.

The ingredient’s primary role is antioxidant and it is generally safe to use. But the various researchers out there have provided different results. All I can say is that you need to use common sense when it comes to using products and be aware of the types of ingredients that exist out there.

If you’re wondering how to find out what ingredients are in products, you’ve got two options. The easiest option is to simply check out the product label, however, not all list the complete ingredients info. In that case, you’ll want to head on over to the company website and search for the product and the ingredients.

Next up, if you still cannot find the ingredients list, then you’ll want to reach out to the company via email and ask them to confirm whether or not the products contain BHT or whatever other ingredients you’re worried about. The important thing here is that you’re taking action and doing the right things to keep your skin and body in tip-top shape. Whatever you do, just take action and do the right thing to protect yourself. Better safe than sorry, I guess.

What Is BHT?
Rate this post