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FDA Bans Controversial Chemical from Hair Dye

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A controversial chemical is being removed from hair dye products in the USA due to potential safety concerns.

Lead acetate has long been banned as a beauty and haircare product across Europe and Canada due to its links to various negative effects on health, including liver toxicity and cancer. Now, following a colour additive petition and evidence of the ingredient’s potential health hazards, the regulation which had allowed to lead acetate to be employed for this purpose, has been overturned in America as well.

food-and-drug-administration-usa-fdaThe country’s regulatory body, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), issued a press release regarding the action on 30th October 2018 though a 12 month period of ‘enforcement discretion’ will be effective from the ruling’s final date. This is to allow companies time to reformulate their products and find alternatives to lead acetate.

No longer meets US safety standard

In April 2017, the Belgravia blog featured an article on the subject of men’s gradual hair colourants, or ‘progressive’ hair dyes, which darken the hair over time, containing lead acetate. There were concerns that this ingredient may have adverse effects, including hair loss.

With internet shopping allowing people to purchase country-specific formulations online without realising, it is more important than ever to check the ingredients labels on products given each country has its own rules and regulations in this regard. However, now that the USA has joined the ban on lead acetate in hair colourants, this will certainly help to reduce the chance of accidentally ordering products containing the toxic element.

Hair Dye Mousse Lead Acetate Hair Loss“In the nearly 40 years since lead acetate was initially approved as a color additive, our understanding of the hazards of lead exposure has evolved significantly. We now know that the approved use of lead acetate in adult hair dyes no longer meets our safety standard. Lead exposure can have serious adverse effects on human health, including for children who may be particularly vulnerable. Moreover, there are alternative color additives for hair coloring products that consumers can use that do not contain lead as an ingredient,” says FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb via press release.

Hair loss from hair dye

In general, the sensible use of hair dye – meaning where a patch test is carried out and all instructions are properly followed – does not lead to hair loss. It can, particularly when used too often, in too great a quantity or where the ingredients are particularly harsh, decrease the quality and vitality of the hair. Bleach is especially notorious for changing the structure of the hair, weakening it and causing it to become brittle.

When this happens, the damaged hair is prone to breakage; this occurs when the hair snaps in two along the shaft. Whilst it is not a hair loss condition per se, it can certainly give the impression of thinning hair.

In extreme cases hair loss may present as a result of chemical trauma; or, should an allergic reaction to an ingredient in the colourant arise, hair may shed diffusely from all over the scalp around three months after the event. This is due to the stress the reaction causes to the body resulting in a blip in the hair growth cycle. This is known as Telogen Effluvium and is a temporary issue, though – for those with genetic hairloss (Male Pattern Baldness or Female Pattern Hair Loss) – hereditary thinning may be exacerbated or its premature onset triggered as a result.

If you are concerned about thinning hair, sudden hair fall or weakened strands, a consultation with a hair specialist can help to identify any problems, as well as provide options for appropriate hair loss solutions.


Circ - Belgravia Centre Hair Loss Clinics LondonThe Belgravia Centre

The Belgravia Centre is an organisation specialising in hair growth and hair loss prevention with two clinics and in-house pharmacies in Central London, UK. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which includes the world’s largest gallery of hair growth comparison photos and demonstrates the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time to arrange a free consultation.


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