Panel deems it safe for use in cosmetics and nail hardening products; however unsafe in the present practices of use and concentration in hair smoothing products

Phoenix, AZ (October 6, 2011) – On September 28, 2011, at its 120th meeting in Washington, the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel (CIR) concluded that formaldehyde and methylene glycol is safe for use as a preservative in cosmetics when formulated to ensure use at the minimal effective concentrate and nail hardening products in the present practices of use and concentration; however, unsafe in the present practices of use and concentration in hair smoothing products (aka hair straightening products). The CIR is an independent, non-profit body of scientific and medical experts that assesses the safety of ingredients used in cosmetics in the U.S. This review was the result of a request by the FDA, the Professional Beauty Association (PBA) and the Personal Care Products Council (the Council).

The panel remained concerned about sensory irritation adverse reports consistent with measured air levels of formaldehyde in salons using hair smoothing products containing formaldehyde/methylene glycol, but also cited additional studies that demonstrated exposure to formaldehyde could be minimized with the proper procedures and use of personal ventilation devices.

CIR looked at several factors relating to formaldehyde and methylene glycol in hair straightening products in assessing the safety issues. Those factors included: the concentration of formaldehyde and methylene glycol in hair straightening products, the amount applied the temperature at which the service is performed, and ventilation.  The CIR report is the latest in a series of challenges to the safety of hair straightening products containing formaldehyde, methylene glycol or formalin, or releasing formaldehyde during the procedure. As PBA has previously reported, the FDA and OSHA also have taken recent actions regarding formaldehyde-releasing products or treatments.

“The Professional Beauty Association will continue to monitor the progression of this issue and educate our members and the industry accordingly. We continually strive for optimal scientific clarification and research related to product safety issues that affect our industry. With these recent findings, it is important for the industry to be aware of the CIR’s findings and continue the professional beauty industry’s commitment to the manufacture, sale and use of hair smoothing and other professional beauty products,” said Steve Sleeper, PBA’s Executive Director.

The CIR Expert Panel findings are posted on the CIR Web site,