Follow us twitter facebook
Edition: Global
Click here to subscribe toour free weekly newsletter click here
Industry buzz

Formaldehyde unsafe as used in hair straighteners, CIR said

After months of polemics over the safety of hair straighteners containing high concentrations of formaldehyde, the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel (CIR), classified formaldehyde and methylene glycol as “unsafe under present conditions of use” in these products.

The CIR Expert Panel gathers scientists, dermatologists, pharmacologists and toxicologists, under the aegis of the U.S. Personal Care Products Council, with the mission to independently and scientifically assess the safety of ingredients used in cosmetics in the U.S. The Panel assessed the safety of formaldehyde and methylene glycol at the request of FDA, the Professional Beauty Association, and the Personal Care Products Council, after a succession of safety alerts regarding hair straightening treatments with high formaldehyde levels.

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. “In no case should the formalin [1] concentration exceed 0.2% (w/w), which would be 0.074% (w/w) calculated as formaldehyde or 0.118% (w/w) calculated as methylene glycol,” said the CIR.

Molecular structure of formaldehyde

Molecular structure of formaldehyde

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 at the Personal Care Products Council.

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 do not exceed established limits and are safe in nail hardening products in the present practices of use and concentration (1 – 2%). [2] However, the Panel did note that “the present practices of use of nail hardeners do include instructions that admonish users to limit application of the material to the nail, allow it to dry fully, and to not get the material on the skin.

It is now up to the FDA to decide whether or not to restrict the use of these substances in cosmetic products placed on the US market.



[1Formalin is an aqueous solution wherein formaldehyde (gas) has been added to water to a saturation point, which is typically 37% formaldehyde (w/w).

[2In the European Union, formaldehyde paraformaldehyde can be used at a concentration up to 0,2 % as a preservative in cosmetic products (except for oral hygiene products where it is limited to 0,1 %) expressed as free formaldehyde. The use formaldehyde is also permitted up to 5 % calculated as formaldehyde in nail hardeners.

© 2011 - Premium Beauty News -
latest news

MakeUp in Paris: The countdown has started before the 2020 edition

The next edition of the BtoB trade show dedicated to the make-up and skincare value chain will be held on June 18th and 19th at the Carrousel du Louvre. Once again, MakeUp in Paris will gather key suppliers of packaging, formulation and full-service solutions for the make-up and skincare markets. The event will feature: latest (...)

read more
job opportunities
Experts’ views
On center stage, the floral bouquet is making its come back

Émilie Coppermann
On center stage, the floral bouquet is making its come back

Just like fashion that is eternally being reinvented, perfumery also works in cycles. And the floral accord is no exception. The very essence of femininity, today floral fragrances are less invasive than in the 1980s, as was the case with Poison by Christian Dior. At the end of the 1990s, floral accords were replaced by clean musky (...)

read more


We use cookies to give you a better browsing experience. By continuing your visit to this site, you accept the use of cookies. Read more and set cookies