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Lots of deficiencies in hair dye labelling

12.1.2012 9.00
Press release

Lots of deficiencies in hair dye product labelling were detected in a surveillance project conducted by the Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency (Tukes). Tukes obtained 15 samples from physical and online stores and had them tested at the Customs Laboratory. The product labelling was inspected and the products were analysed for certain forbidden dye substances, preservatives and hydrogen peroxide concentration. Labelling deficiencies were detected in 12 products, and the composition of two products was non-compliant. Five products were withdrawn from the market.

Lots of serious labelling deficiencies were detected in hair dye products tested during the Tukes surveillance project. Some did not have any list of ingredients at all, while others had an incomplete list or the name of the allergenic substance was not included in the warning. Two products did not have any labelling in Finnish or in Swedish. There were deficiencies in the composition and labelling of two products. One contained a prohibited colouring agent, and the safety of the other could not be ascertained.

Tukes required the withdrawal of five products from the market. In addition, other products in the same product series with corresponding deficiencies were voluntarily withdrawn by importers. In two cases the sales of the product has continued following corrections made to package labelling. The requirement set for the less serious labelling deficiencies was that the importer was to eliminate the deficiencies from now on.

– Product labelling and appropriate user instructions are important elements in the safety of hair dye products, says Legal Adviser Pauliina Kanerva of Tukes. Instructions and labelling must be provided in Finnish and in Swedish.

– Finnish cosmetics legislation is based on EU legislation, which restricts the use of certain substances in hair dye products. The restrictions are based on scientific risk assessments, says Kanerva. 

– Operators must ensure product safety before placing products on the market. The different levels of trade must also make sure for their part that only compliant products are offered for sale to consumers. There is no prior approval procedure for cosmetic products.

Stricter labelling requirements introduced

The labelling requirements for hair dye products changed last year. From the beginning of November 2011 new warnings have been required for hair dyes containing certain substances. The allergenic effects of products must be specified more clearly, and products must contain the warning that the product is not recommended for use on persons under the age of 16.

– People start colouring their hair at a younger and younger age these days, which increases their exposure to sensitising substances, Kanerva points out.

Hair dyes not labelled in accordance with the new requirements may no longer be placed on the market. Consumers will notice the change in full in a year's time if not earlier: from 1 November 2012 the sales or other supply of products not compliant with the new requirements will be prohibited.

Text example of the new warning labelling:

Hair colourants can cause severe allergic reactions. Read and follow instructions. This product is not intended for use on persons under the age of 16. Temporary ”black henna” tattoos may increase your risk of allergy. Do not colour your hair if:

– you have a rash on your face or sensitive, irritated and damaged scalp,

– you have ever experienced any reaction after colouring your hair,

– you have experienced a reaction to a temporary ”black henna” tattoo in the past.

Kanerva reminds consumers that they should take care when colouring their hair and follow the package warnings and user instructions. Those with sensitive, irritated and damaged scalp should not colour their hair at all. Hair colourants must not be used to colour eyebrows or eyelashes.

Tukes register of dangerous products (in Finnish):

For more information:

Pauliina Kanerva, Legal Adviser, tel. 010 6052 136, [email protected]

Anna Pukander, Head of Market Surveillance, tel. 010 6052 165, [email protected]