(NaturalNews) The dermatology department at the University of Cape Town (UCT) in South Africa has revealed startling new test results on hair-straightening products. Many Brazil-based hair product brands have tested high for carcinogenic formaldehyde, at levels five times the legal limit.
In cosmetic products, formaldehyde exists in a liquid state, as formalin. When heated during a hair treatment, formaldehyde turns into a gas and becomes unstable and dangerous when breathed in or absorbed.
At low levels, the carcinogen can cause skin and eye irritations and can even disrupt pregnancy or cause dizziness. At higher levels, through chronic exposure, formaldehyde can cause the formation of respiratory and blood cancers such as leukemia and lymphomas.
Brazilian keratin-type hair products found loaded with formaldehyde
The UCT study revealed that most Brazilian keratin-type (BKT) hair products are loaded with formaldehyde. According to the test results, local market hair treatment products and brands sold online may pose serious health risks due to "unacceptably high and dangerous concentrations of formaldehyde."
Nonhlanhla Khumalo, who led the UCT study, unleashed the findings but didn't reveal the product names. Now, consumer groups and hairstylists in South Africa are calling out for the specific product names to be revealed and published.
The study, published in the February issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatologists, revealed test results for seven international BKT shampoo brands sold in South Africa. Six of the hair-straightening products contained formaldehyde at disturbing levels, ranging from 0.96 percent to 1.4 percent. These concentrations exceed the average legal limit by fivefold. For example, the US Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel establishes the maximum concentration of formaldehyde at 0.2 percent, which is a common limit maintained by most countries.
Hair treatment products deceive consumers with "formaldehyde-free" label
The products tested not only exceed legal limits for formaldehyde, but some of the labels were found to be deceptive as well. Most shocking was that five of the toxic products were labeled "formaldehyde-free"
The researchers, including laboratory worker Dr. Mbulelo Maneli and associate professor Peter Smith, said, "The false labelling of products as formaldehyde-free exposes unsuspecting consumers and hairdressers to adverse effects. Industry monitoring is needed to improve compliance and protection of hairdressers and consumers."
Hair stylists becoming aware of hair products that cause side effects
Elsabe Sheppard, director of the Hair Academy of South Africa, said that hairstylists have noticed certain hair products causing burning eyes and even dizziness.
"This is a very popular product, used in salons all over. I am concerned about the health of hairstylists working with this daily," Sheppard said.
"It is unacceptable that manufacturers reap profits from the products sold to salons, knowing the dangers. I wonder if they use it on their own family?"
Sheppard would like to see label warnings printed on hair products similar to those printed on tobacco products, which warn consumers of potential cancer risk and other irritation factors.
"Hairdressers, as well as the public, will be less likely to use these products, knowing the dangers," she said.
Terry Scott, a hairstylist who uses products like these daily, said that companies should be held accountable when their labels deceive the public.
He said, "I think those distributors should be rapped across the knuckles. Recall those products and stop selling them under false pretences."
Paul Fox, who owns 12 salons in South Africa, is urging UCT to release the brand names. Fox said many hair dressers have noticed skin reactions from some products that may even induce a dry cough.
OSHA reveals list of hair products containing formaldehyde, warns against use
The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration researched a plethora of hair product brands that contain obscene amounts of formaldehyde. Some of these brands even sound healthy, with names that contain natural ingredients like acai. These formaldehyde-loaded brands include but are not limited to: Brazilian Blowout, Acai Professional Smoothing Solution, Professional Brazilian Blowout Solution, Cadiveu, Brasil Cacau, Acai Therapy, Copomon/Coppola, Keratin Complex Smoothing Therapy, Natural Keratin Smoothing Treatment, Natural Keratin Smoothing Treatment Blonde, Express Blow Out, Marcia Teixeira, Brazilian Keratin Treatment, Advanced Brazilian Keratin Treatment, Chocolate Extreme De-Frizzing Treatment, Soft Gentle Smoothing Treatment and Soft Chocolate Gentle Smoothing Treatment.
Other names used for formaldehyde, disguised on product labels
Furthermore, OSHA revealed that formaldehyde may be labeled as several different substances, since it is unstable as a gas during a hair treatment process. Formaldehyde may be disguised as formalin, methylene glycol, methylene oxide, paraform, formic aldehyde, methanal, oxomethane, oxymethylene, timonacic acid or thiazolidinecarboxylic acid.