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Formaldehyde Is Unsafe in Hair Straighteners

September 30, 2011

CIR issues thumbs down on methylene glycol, too.

At its 120th meeting in Washington DC this week, the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel (CIR) reached its final conclusion on the safety of formaldehyde and methylene glycol as used in hair straightening products and found them to be unsafe under present conditions of use.


CIR, an independent, non-profit body of scientific and medical experts that assesses the safety of ingredients used in cosmetics in the US , initiated the review at the request of FDA, the Professional Beauty Association, and the Personal Care Products Council (the Council).

The Expert Panel noted that the safety of methylene glycol and formaldehyde in hair straightening products depends on a number of factors, including the concentration of formaldehyde and methylene glycol, the amount of product applied, the temperature used during the application process, and the ventilation provided at the point of use. The Panel concluded that under present practices of use and concentration, formaldehyde and methylene glycol are unsafe in hair straightening products.

“CIR reached its conclusion after a comprehensive review of the available safety data and information and a robust discussion of this difficult and complex issue. We support the panel’s findings,” said Jay Ansell, Council scientist and vice president of cosmetic programs.

The panel also concluded that formaldehyde and methylene glycol are safe for use as a preservative in cosmetics at minimal effective concentration levels and that they do not exceed established limits and are safe in nail hardening products in the present practices of use and concentration.

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