Formaldehyde is one of those chemicals that you really need to know about. It’s a gas that has a strong smell. Formaldehyde is used in the production of many building materials and products for your household – including hair products.
Permanent press fabrics contain formaldehyde; so do glues, adhesives, and particle board. You can expect to find formaldehyde in fingernail polish, shower gel and even lotions.
The National Toxicology Program calls formaldehyde a known human carcinogen. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) states on its website that it’s not safe for use in products intended to be aerosolized.
Formaldehyde may cause cancer of the stomach, skin, nose and pharynx, and leukemia.
It’s also associated with itchy skin, allergy reactions and can cause hair loss, nosebleeds, bleeding gums, skin rashes, burning eyes, watery eyes, coughing, wheezing, breathing issues, throat ulcers, mouth ulcers, loss of the sense of taste, loss of the sense of smell, dizziness, headaches, fatigue, and nausea. It could also cause blisters on the skin, scalp, neck and face.
Once it affects the scalp, formaldehyde can cause trauma to the hair follicles and thus hair loss.
Because of these issues, some countries have banned the use of formaldehyde in products on the market.
Formaldehyde may not be listed in your hair product. Instead, it may be disguised as any one of the following chemicals:
The reason why formaldehyde may have these other names is because the basic chemical structure is changed a little once it mixes with water. However, the harmfulness of the original formaldehyde chemical still remains.
In Australia, the deputy chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, stated that some hair straightening formulas contain 20 times the safe limit of formaldehyde.
The American Cancer Society even admits that professional keratin hair-smoothing treatments can harm us by increasing the amount of formaldehyde in the air in the home when the treatments react with heat applied to your hair, such as in blow-drying.
A Brazilian Blow-Out is a salon treatment that is applied to your hair that straightens the hair, makes it look shiny, and eliminates frizz.
Your hair is blown dry, flat ironed, rinsed and the cuticles of the hair are sealed. A serum is applied next and then your hair is blown dry. The treatment affects the keratin chains in your hair and lasts for up to 12 weeks.
The problem is that the residues of the product on the hair bind tightly to the keratin, and when you apply heat to your hair in any way, formaldehyde fumes are released.
You end up inhaling them and the chemical is now inside your body.
Even Johnson’s & Johnson’s Baby shampoo has been known to contain formaldehyde so check the list of ingredients in your shampoo.
Shampoos (and conditioners) may still contain formaldehyde in them despite a lot of attention about them in the press in 2011.
This was the year that the Environmental Working Group – the one organization that does its best to keep you safe from chemicals in everyday use products – released its investigation that companies claiming their hair-straightening products were formaldehyde free really weren’t telling the truth.
High levels of formaldehyde were found in each of these 16 companies’ products.
The companies countered the argument and stated that methylene glycol is formed when formaldehyde is mixed with water so the product was okay.
For conditioners, it’s important for you to print out the list of chemicals above that end up giving off formaldehyde fumes when you’re blow drying your hair. Spend the time to look for each one on the conditioner labels.
The answer is quite simple. Get your nutrition right. When your nutrition is right, then your hair will be right.
When your nutrition is wrong, you’ll experience dry hair, breaking hair strands, hair loss, hair thinning, split ends and itchy scalp. Hair loss and hair problems usually have their foundation in poor nutrition.
Get your hair products right. Check the labels for formaldehyde as an ingredient, or its sister chemicals. Use healthy hair products and healthy supplements to nourish your body.
Formaldehyde. EWG’s Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database. https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/702500/FORMALDEHYDE/#.W5xAiaNRfr0
Formaldehyde. What Causes Cancer? American Cancer Society. Accessed Sept. 14, 2018 online. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/formaldehyde.html
Should beauty mean pain and even hair loss? Oct. 24, 2015. HIS Hair Clinic. https://www.hishairclinic.com/should-beauty-mean-pain-and-even-hair-loss/
Hair Styling products trigger hair loss warning. The Belgravia Centre. https://www.belgraviacentre.com/blog/hair-styling-products-trigger-hair-loss-warning/