EU gets new rule on safer hair dye
Hair dyes used by an estimated 60 per cent of women and up to 10 per cent of men around the EU should become safer in the coming weeks.
The European Commission has adopted a directive regulating hair dyes, which imposes restrictions on 24 substances used in them.
They join a list already established by the EU restricting the use of certain substances in hair dyes which were proved to be unsafe.
In 2003, the Commission and member states agreed, within the framework of the cosmetics directive, to an overall strategy to assess and regulate all hair dyes.
As a result, the cosmetics industry was asked to check the safety of all substances used in the dyes, focusing mainly on their potential toxic properties.
Since then, based on the assessment of the EU’s scientific committee, Brussels has banned the use of 180 substances and now restricted the use of 24 more.
A particularly toxic chemical in hair dye – para-phenylenediamine (PPD) –is one of the banned substances. Previously, EU rules allowed producers to use up to six per cent of PPD in hair products, and although it was found in two thirds of hair dyes, it was outlawed in Germany, France and Sweden.
Just last year, The Times had reported how a young woman’s head ballooned to twice its normal size the day after colouring her hair. She had to be rushed to the hospital’s emergency department suffering from a severe allergic reaction to hair dye.
The value of the hair dye market in the EU is estimated at €2.6 billion which accounts for some eight per cent of the value of output of cosmetics. In 2001, the Commission’s scientific committee concluded that the potential risks of the use of certain, permanent hair dyes were of concern.
It said there was evidence that the regular and long term use of hair dyes by women may be associated with the development of bladder cancer.
It recommended an overall safety assessment strategy for hair dyes, including the requirements for testing hair dye cosmetic ingredients for their potential genotoxicity or mutagenicity.