Be­ware the se­crets in hair prod­ucts

CityPress - - News - JEANNE VAN DER MERWE in­ves­ti­ga­tions@me­

Poi­sonous chem­i­cals in pop­u­lar Brazil­ian hair straight­en­ers can hide in plain sight, even if they are cor­rectly la­belled.

City Press last week re­vealed the names of six Brazil­ian straight­en­ers re­searchers at the Univer­sity of Cape Town (UCT) found con­tained roughly five times the per­mit­ted amount of formalde­hyde. Five were la­belled formalde­hyde free.

Con­sumer ad­vo­cates warn that formalde­hyde can be hid­den in a host of other names in cos­metic la­belling: methy­lene gly­col, methy­lene ox­ide, paraform, formic alde­hyde, methanal, ox­omethane, oxymethy­lene or ti­m­o­nacic acid.

Ja­nine Wil­son of the Cos­metic, Toi­letry & Fra­grance As­so­ci­a­tion of SA said the chem­i­cals might dif­fer slightly in com­po­si­tion, but all “let off a toxic gas when you add the heat­ing tongs”.

The UCT re­searchers bought their re­search sam­ples on­line, and three brand rep­re­sen­ta­tives told City Press last week they didn’t sell their prod­ucts on­line and couldn’t ver­ify the sam­ples’ au­then­tic­ity.

Wil­son said there was rel­a­tively lit­tle coun­ter­feit­ing of cos­met­ics in the lo­cal mar­ket­place, but lo­cal brand agents are un­happy about “grey im­ports” – those from the same man­u­fac­turer, though not sourced from the brand’s lo­cal agent.

“Grey im­ports are com­pletely le­gal, and they are sub­ject to the same scru­tiny by port health au­thor­i­ties as other cos­met­ics. The only con­di­tion on the sale of th­ese grey im­ports is that they must be mar­keted as such,” Wil­son said.

“So pro­vided you are buy­ing from a rep­utable out­let, the prod­uct should be safe, even if it is a grey im­port.” She said big brands were reg­u­larly sub­jected to spot checks to see whether la­belling con­tained any banned sub­stances.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the port health au­thor­ity told City Press they fo­cused more on food im­ports than cos­met­ics.

Lars Fis­cher of Hair Health & Beauty, which im­ports beauty prod­ucts, said port health au­thor­i­ties might not pick up on smaller ship­ments of il­le­gal prod­ucts or cos­metic in­gre­di­ents that are in­cor­rectly la­belled.

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