Industry research finds formaldehyde exposure not a problem for consumers in cosmetics

By Michelle Yeomans

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Personal care products, Cosmetics

Industry research finds formaldehyde exposure not a problem for consumers in cosmetics
A recent investigation into the effects of inhalation exposure to formaldehyde (FA) from personal care products and cosmetics has revealed negligible risk to human health, according to industry experts.

Scientists appointed from L'Oreal, TNO, Beiersdorf, and Cosmetics Europe measured consumer exposure to formaldehyde from personal care products containing FA-releasing preservatives.

According to the report, the process invloved applying facial moisturiser, foundation, shower gel, shampoo, deodorant, hair conditioner, styling gel and body lotion on six study subjects at the ‘90th percentile amount of EU PCP consumer use'  

Thereafter, FA air concentrations were said to be measured in an empty room, in the presence of study subjects prior to PCP use, and for one hour (breathing zone, area monitoring) after PCP use.

On a closer look, the authors found that the air levels following product use were a fraction of those considered to be safe and also lower than those found in indoor air and expired human breath.

In comparison to formaldehyde air concentrations prior to application, the average concentration was increased but not significantly," they said. Adding “overall, our data yielded evidence that inhalation of (FA) from the use of PCP containing FA-releasers poses no risk to human health."

International industry concerns

In recent years, the cosmetics industry worldwide has voiced many concerns over the exposure to formaldehyde, launching numerous investigations – particularly in the hair smoothing area.

Last month, Brazilian Blowout products were fined $600,000 in fees, penalties and costs and ordered by the courts to warn consumers and hair stylists that two of its most popular hair smoothing products emitted formaldehyde gas after consumers complained of burning eyes and nose and in some cases hair loss.

The move was welcomed by many organizations; in particular the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics who had been monitoring the case and have been extremely vocal in its desire for companies to be forced to publicly disclose the presence of cancer-causing chemicals in cosmetics.

Related topics: Regulation & Safety

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