The Cosmetic, Toiletry & Perfumery Association has refuted recent media claims that secondary amines used in some hair colouring products could react with tobacco smoke and exhaust fumes in the air, ultimately forming harmful chemicals such as nitrosamines, which are linked to cancer.
Nitrosamines are a group of substances (made from nitrogen and oxygen, and sometimes carbon) most of which are potentially harmful. They are banned from being present in cosmetic products, whether as ingredients or formed later in the product itself.
“The article in the Daily Mail raising safety concerns is not based on any new scientific research and does not bring any new information to light," CTPA stresses.
Thus, in this instance the Association felt the need to provide reassurance as it believes the article might cause alarm amongst the millions of people who colour their hair.
“There is absolutely no safety risk attached to the use of secondary amine hair dyes and that their safe use is underpinned by both proven science and strict legislation."
Secondary amines and nitrosamines
The chemistry of hair dyes in general, secondary amines and nitrosamines is well known and understood by industry and cosmetics law-makers and as such, there is already strict legislation in place to ensure that nitrosamine formation does not occur in hair colourants or any other cosmetic product.
This strict legislation requires that if a hair dye has any possibility of reacting to or forming a nitrosamine, the manufacturers must ensure the hair colourant is specially formulated to avoid any such reaction occurring. Furthermore, this strict legislation bans the use of nitrosamines in all cosmetic products.
"Nitrosamines are not formed on the skin by the use of different cosmetic products, neither will nitrosamines spontaneously occur if a hair dye were to be used in the presence of tobacco smoke or exhaust fumes."
Cosmetics industry stance on the issue
Last year, the European Commission’s committee of independent scientists reviewed the subject of nitrosamines and cosmetic products, and looked extensively at secondary amine hair dyes. It concluded that no additional changes were required to the existing regulation of nitrosamines and hair dyes.
“Consumer safety is the number one priority of the cosmetics industry. Manufacturers of hair colorants, and all cosmetics products, take pride in the rigorous, proven science behind each product on sale."