Are hair straightening products safe?

The short answer is NO!

Most hair straightening products use formaldehyde. Which is a naturally occurring gas and is linked to leukaemia. Here are some facts:

  1. Formaldehyde (which I will call by its chemical name FA) – is the substance used in murder movies to asphyxiate people (often leading to death). If you watch the people, they choke, splutter and struggle to breath and they usually rub their eyes. These are the acute side affects of FA. It is also used in nail polish (hence the overwhelming odour and the reason planes ban you from doing your nails inflight). And other areas of use are in fabrics (which is why you should always wash your clothes before you wear them for the first time), wood work and the automotive industry.
  2. Long term FA does a few nasty things – it strips our DNA , it breaks our protein chains, but more importantly it interfers with nitric oxide which is a necessary part of our inflammatory/stress system. If this is suppressed we create loads of free radicals which cause cancer
  3. Long Term FA also causes infertility issues and hormone problems (in China one study reported occupational exposure of FA caused 70% period abnormalities, compared to 17% control). FA is widely used in cars, fumes and smog which is one reason why cancers such as breast and ovarian cancers are on the increase in first world countries.
  4. FA is well known to cause leukaemia which is the nastiest blood born cancer, and if it doesn’t affect the mum it can affect the baby – and seeing as hair dressing is mainly a female dominated industry, this is a concern
  5. Short term exposure is can cause eye problems, skin irritation and breathing issues.
  6. It is long term exposure that is the greatest concern and considering that in 2005 there were 124,000 new hair dressing apprenticeships handed out (I couldn’t find stats on current numbers of hair dressers) it is a MAJOR concern.
  7. Are the ACCC on to it quick enough? This is interesting. The ACCC usually only respond when complaints from consumers hit a certain point which is a shame in Australia and for Australians. The EU banned FA in 2007, the USA passed a bill last year in the building industry and the use FA and restrictions. Sweden and Japan banned it from cosmetics and yet we have done nothing. I get a little annoyed at the ACCC (they get so much funding, are meant to protect consumers and often appear like a sleeping watch dog, not the “watch dog” that they claim – but that is a personal opinion).
  8. Do we need to worry – YES! Do hair dressers and nail techs need to know about it – YES. Should consumers know about it – YES! Straight hair at the potential expense of your health – crazy. I am sure if most people were aware, they would look for another option.