Cosmetics Directive amended to flag up hair dye allergy dangers

By Katie Bird

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags European union Allergy Immune system

The European Commission has changed the labelling requirements for formulations that contain certain hair dye ingredients.

Amendments to the Directive are in response to a conclusion from the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) (previously known as the SCCP – Scientific Committee on Consumer Products) that said contact allergies caused by hair dyes are an increasingly important health problem.

These types of reactions can cause ‘acute and severe dermatitis’ in affected individuals, according to the SCCS.

In an attempt to better inform the consumer of these dangers, the Commission has altered the warnings that must be included on the labels of oxidative hair dye products and some non-oxidative products that contain strong sensitising substances.

For the majority of substances, including phenylenediamines and methylphenylnediamines, the current warning which reads ‘Can cause an allergic reaction’ must be replaced with the following:

“Hair colorants can cause severe allergic reactions.
Read and follow instructions.
This product is not intended for use on persons under the age of 16.
Temporary “black henna” tattoos may increase your risk of allergy.

Do not colour your hair if:
- you have a rash on your face or sensitive, irritated and damaged scalp,
- you have ever experienced any reaction after colouring your hair,
- you have experienced a reaction to a temporary “black henna” tattoo in the past.”

These changes to the Directive will come into force on November 18, 20 days after its publication date in the Official Journal of the European Union, and member states are obliged ensure that all products entering the market comply with these changes by November 2011.

The Commission’s attempts to underline the allergy risks of hair dyes were announced shortly after a German symposium was held on the subject hosted by the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR).

BfR’s symposium looked at concerns about the ingredient's cancer risk as well as its potential to cause allergies.

According to the BfR president Professor Dr Dr Andreas Hensel, there is no risk of cancer through hair dyes for consumers, and substances under question for their potential carcinogenic effect have been banned for years.

However, allergies were deemed to be a problem.

“There is, however, a need for research on the problem of allergies caused by hair dyes,”​ Hensel said.

For more information on the changes, please click here​.

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