Health Risks In The Name Of Beauty

A glass bowl filled with hair relaxer(BlackDoctor.org) — You may be surprised by how many beauty rituals are actually causes for concern. Normal beauty care can contain some not-so-pleasant ingredients that you may want to consider avoiding.

Beauty To Dye For

You probably didn’t know that using some hair dye may increase your risk for certain types of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a blood cancer involving the lymph nodes. A recent study from Yale University published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that women who started dying their hair before 1980 had a 30% increased risk of getting non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, compared with those who never used hair dye. Among women who began using hair dye in 1980 or later, there was an increased risk only for those who used dark dye.

As with hair relaxers, some consumers have reported hair loss, burning, redness, and irritation from hair dyes. Allergic reactions to dyes include itching, swelling of the face, and even difficulty breathing.

(Speaking of relaxers, we should be very careful when using relaxers on our little ones; there have been reports of children losing their sight as a result of relaxer chemical getting into their eyes).

Coal tar hair dye ingredients are known to cause allergic reactions in some people, according to the FDA. Synthetic organic chemicals, including hair dyes and other color additives, were originally manufactured from coal tar, but today manufacturers primarily use materials derived from petroleum. The use of the term “coal tar” continues because historically that language has been incorporated into the law and regulations.

The law does not require that coal tar hair dyes be approved by FDA, as is required for other uses of color additives. In addition, the law does not allow FDA to take action against coal tar hair dyes that are shown to be harmful, if the product is labeled with the prescribed caution statement indicating that the product may cause irritation in certain individuals, that a patch test for skin sensitivity should be done, and that the product must not be used for dyeing the eyelashes or eyebrows. The patch test involves putting a dab of hair dye behind the ear or inside the elbow, leaving it there for two days, and looking for itching, burning, redness, or other reactions.

“The problem is that people can become sensitized—that is, develop an allergy—to these ingredients,” FDA officials say. “They may do the patch test once, and then use the product for 10 years” before having an allergic reaction. But you’re supposed to do the patch test every time, even in salons.

When using all hair chemicals, it’s critical to keep them away from children to prevent ingestion and other accidents, and to follow product directions carefully. It sounds basic, but some people don’t do it, according to the FDA. If it says leave on hair for five minutes, seven minutes doesn’t make it better. In fact, it could do damage.

Look Out For Your Eyes

Whether applying hair chemicals at home or in a hair salon, consumers and beauticians should be careful to keep them away from the eyes. FDA has received reports of injuries from hair relaxers and hair dye accidentally getting into eyes. And while it may be tempting to match a new hair color to eyebrows and eyelashes, consumers should resist the urge. The use of permanent eyelash and eyebrow tinting and dyeing has been known to cause serious eye injuries and even blindness. There are no color additives approved by FDA for dyeing or tinting eyelashes and eyebrows.

The law does not require that coal tar hair dyes be approved by FDA, as is required for other uses of color additives. In addition, the law does not allow FDA to take action against coal tar hair dyes that are shown to be harmful, if the product is labeled with the following caution statement:

“Caution—This product contains ingredients which may cause skin irritation on certain individuals and a preliminary test according to accompanying directions should first be made. This product must not be used for dyeing the eyelashes or eyebrows; to do so may cause blindness.”

Many times we are so excited to achieve a new look we overlook the importance of reading the manufacturer’s instructions and cautions. Think of the possibility of losing an eye or having a painful and recurring skin condition – and please take the time to be safe and beautiful.

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