Beware the secrets in hair products

2014-08-24 15:00

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.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.