Hair Straightening Products – Unsafe Ingredients

The HPRA is concerned about the use of hair straightening products that contain formaldehyde or other substances that release formaldehyde, e.g. methylene glycol and paraformaldehyde. There are serious safety concerns in relation to the use of these substances and none of these ingredients are allowed in cosmetic products in Europe. All three were included in the “List of Substances Prohibited in Cosmetic Products” of the European Cosmetic Products legislation in May 20191.  

Irish hairdressers and salons have legal responsibilities when selling cosmetic products. For example:

  • If buying cosmetics from a supplier outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and selling to customers in Ireland:

    • You are the Responsible Person (RP) and are legally responsible for the safety of the product.
    • You must have a Product Information File and the technical cosmetic product safety report of the product.
    • You must check all of the ingredients in the product to ensure none are prohibited. You cannot sell products that contain formaldehyde, methylene glycol or paraformaldehyde.

  • Further information can be found in our Guide to Cosmetics for Responsible Persons.

  • If buying cosmetics from a supplier within the EEA and selling to customers in Ireland:

    • You are a distributor (retailer).
    • You must check the following on the labelling:
      • That the text on the label is in English, in Irish or both.
      • That any best before/expiry date has not passed.
      • That the information below is present on the label:
        • A list of ingredients
        • A batch number or reference ID
        • A European address
    • We also urge hairdressers to check the ingredients in hair straightening products as you cannot sell products that contain formaldehyde, methylene glycol or paraformaldehyde.

      Further information can be found in our HPRA Leaflet Selling Cosmetic Products in Ireland.

      All Irish salon owners and hairdressers should review all hair straightening products currently in stock for these three ingredients.

      If any salon, hairdresser, distributor or member of the public comes across a cosmetic product containing formaldehyde, methylene glycol and/or paraformaldehyde, the product should not be used or further supplied due to safety concerns, and the HPRA should be contacted at cosmetics@hpra.ie without delay.

      Footnote 1: Commission Regulation (EU) 2019/831 of 22 May 2019 amending Annexes II, III and V to Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council on cosmetic products