Hair straighteners can harm your health

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Toxic substances in hair straighteners

Hair straighteners that are purchased on the internet can significantly damage your health. In a study by the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, high concentrations of the substance formaldehyde were found.

Many hairdressers apparently use hair straighteners with the chemical substance formaldehyde. The use of formaldehyde in such products is not permitted in the European Community (EU) due to the health risks. Without knowing it, hair salons order the smoothing agents on the Internet. The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) pointed this out and at the same time warned against the use.

Consumers and hairdressing salons apparently buy hair straightening agents containing the chemical substance formaldehyde without direct knowledge of the dangers to health or via online shops. The products come from abroad and are mainly purchased due to the low purchase price. The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), however, urges against the turn of the purchased products.

The specified agents are used to straighten naturally frizzy hair in order to smooth it permanently. For this, the hair straightener is applied to the hair and stretched after 30 minutes with a so-called flat iron at 230 degrees heat. If formaldehyde is contained in the product, toxic fumes are generated for the user, hairdresser and customer.

Inhalation and release of the toxic substances can cause skin irritation, eye irritation, respiratory tract and mucous membrane. According to the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, the investigated agents showed a high concentration of the toxic substance. In addition to the complaints mentioned, allergic skin reactions can also occur. In addition, formaldehyde can greatly promote cancer in the nasopharynx.

In the investigations, experts from the risk authority found that, for example, analyzed agents in Baden-Württemberg contained a high formaldehyde concentration of 1.7 to 1.8 percent. Across the EU, the use of this substance is only permitted in nail hardeners in concentrations of up to 5 percent and for the preservation of cosmetic products up to a concentration of 0.2 percent. From 0.05 percent, labeling in the EU is mandatory. For this reason, only products that are also approved in the EU should be used. Formaldehyde is completely prohibited for the manufacture of hair straightening products. (sb)

Photo credit: Silke Kaiser /

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