You may have noticed that there has been much talk and concern of cosmetic products containing formaldehyde recently.

Habia have pulled together some simple facts to guide and in some cases alleviate any fears.  
  • In the EU the manufacture of cosmetic products is strictly regulated by the European Cosmetics Directive (76/768/EEC) and transposed into UK law by the UK Cosmetic Products(Safety) Regulations. The basic premise of this legislation is that a cosmetic product must not cause harm to human health when applied under normal or reasonably foreseeable conditions of use.
  • The Cosmetics Directive allows the use of formaldehyde in cosmetics up to a concentration of 0.2% (except for products for oral hygiene, where the maximum is 0.1%), and it is also allowed for use in nail hardeners up to 5%.
  • Another legal requirement of the Cosmetics Directive is that all ingredients must be labelled on the pack. If formaldehyde is being used in the product then it will be labelled accordingly. Certain, legally allowed ingredients, actually liberate formaldehyde, however there is a further legal requirement that all finished products containing formaldehyde or which release formaldehyde must be labelled with the warning "contains formaldehyde" where the concentration of formaldehyde in the finished product exceeds 0.05%.
  • In the EU, it is the responsibility of the manufacturer/importer to assure the safety of cosmetic products and their ingredients. A key element is a thorough safety assessment of each cosmetic product that is put on the EU market.
  • If products on the EU market contained high concentrations of formaldehyde they would be illegal. If this is in fact the case then they should be referred to Trading Standards immediately for enforcement action.
  • There has been some concern regarding the flammability. Formaldehyde is flammable but only above 7% concentration in air and, at that level, the whole salon will have been evacuated because of the irritant effects.

In summary, if you have any concerns check that the products you are using do not exceed the maximum concentration levels of formaldehyde and that the packaging is labelled appropriately.

Where the product does not conform with these requirements you should cease use and notify both the supplier and your local trading standards officer.
Health and Safety Products
COSHH Assessment CheckCOSHH Assessment Check
Author: Habia
Reference: ZZ-CONSULTANCY - H&S - 3
Price: £60.00

COSHH BookletCOSHH Booklet
Author: A Guide to the H&S of Salon Hair Products
Reference: BK-28
Price: £1.50

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