Statement by Beth Jonas, PhD, Chief Scientist Personal Care Products Council In Response to Formaldehyde in Hair-Straightening Products

Washington, D.C. – “Consumer and product safety are top priorities for the cosmetics and personal care products industry, with careful and thorough scientific research and development serving as the foundation for everything that we do.   

“The Personal Care Products Council (the Council) is a non-voting industry liaison member of the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel. CIR, an independent, non-profit body of scientific and medical experts that assesses the safety of ingredients used in cosmetics in the U.S., initiated a review at the request of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Professional Beauty Association, and the Council.  In 2011, CIR issued a final conclusion on the safety of formaldehyde and methylene glycol as used in hair straightening products and found them to be unsafe under present conditions of use.

“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.  They concluded that under present practices of use and concentration, formaldehyde and methylene glycol are unsafe in hair straightening products. 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.  The ingredients are also safe in nail hardening products in the present practices of use and concentration.

“The Council fully supports the Expert Panel’s findings.

“It’s important to note that FDA has clear authority to regulate the safety of these products under the Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act, which requires that every product and its individual ingredients be substantiated for safety before they are put on the market, and that those products’ labels be truthful and not misleading.  

“Workplace safety and workers’ rights practices of our business partners are very important to our member companies.  Like many companies today, cosmetics companies believe that their responsibility does not begin and end with their own operations, but extends to the entire product value chain.  Our contracts with business partners outline our expectations for ethical business practices. These often include provisions for labor rights, and health and safety. Violation of these provisions can result in cancellation of these partnerships.  

“We take great pride in the high quality employment opportunities offered by the cosmetics industry to nearly 3.6 million people in the U.S.  We remain fully committed to safe and ethical business practices and urge the same of our business partners.”