Hair-Product Alert: Beware of Formaldehyde

Date: April 1, 2012      Publication: Bottom Line Natural Healing      Source: Mark A.  Stengler      Print:

There are many toxic chemicals out there, but one in particular has made headlines. Formaldehyde, the colorless gas that, at room temperature, emits a noxious odor, has been found in hair salon straightening products. It is believed to cause cancer and allergies…to disrupt the immune system…and is linked to incidents of hair loss, nosebleeds and respiratory problems. As it turns out, formaldehyde also has been found in hair products used at home, such as shampoos and styling gels. Find out what you need to know to protect yourself…

As an Environmental Working Group (EWG) report pointed out, when it examined 16 hair-straightening products used in beauty salons, 15 of them not only contained formaldehyde, they exceeded the safety limit set by the US government. The EWG, a consumer protection organization, is concerned that companies are using products that contain agents that turn into formaldehyde gas when exposed to the air and/or the heat of straightening irons. This might mean that even if the manufacturer didn’t add pure formaldehyde, formaldehyde is being created by a chemical reaction inside the bottle. When you open the bottle, the gas is released.

Speak to your hairdresser about the products used at your salon. Read the labels of the products you use at home. Formaldehyde-releasing preservative agents can be found in some shampoos and styling gels. They are called quaternium-15…dimethyl-dimethyl (DMDM) hydantoin…imidazolidinyl urea…diazolidinyl urea…and sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, among others. To ensure that the hair products you use at home are safe, consider using products from companies such as Aubrey Organics, EcoColors and Modern Organic Products, which use nontoxic ingredients. They are available at some health-food stores and online.

Source: Mark A. Stengler, NMD, is a naturopathic medical doctor and leading authority on the practice of alternative and integrated medicine. Dr. Stengler is author of the Health Revelations newsletter, author of The Natural Physician’s Healing Therapies (Bottom Line Books), founder and medical director of the Stengler Center for Integrative Medicine in Encinitas, California, and adjunct associate clinical professor at the National College of Natural Medicine in Portland, Oregon.