Warning out on expired and unauthorized hair color sprays

The toxics watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition today revealed the unlawful sale of temporary hair color sprays in Binondo, Manila that are not only unauthorized, but also expired, posing health risks to consumers.

During its recent market monitoring, the group chanced upon the “buy one, take one” sale of unauthorized and expired Vangin Color Spray (sold for P195 for two 120 ml cans) and Mefapo Color Spray (sold for P120 for two 120 ml cans) at 698 Shop along Sta. Elena Street.  Similar products are also sold online.

“The use of unauthorized hair color sprays, which have not been checked by cosmetic regulators for their quality and safety, may pose health risks as these may contain banned or restricted chemicals and other contaminants,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

The group noted that from 2019 to date, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued public health warnings against the purchase and use of unauthorized hair color sprays, including several variants of Dexe Hair Color Spray, Hair Color Colored Hair Spray, and Leilu Washable Hair Color Spray to protect consumers from health risks.

“The health risks from the use of such cosmetics, including allergic reactions, may even increase if the products are already expired,” she said, adding “the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive recommends the use of cosmetics within their best before or expiration date as printed on the labels to ensure safe use.”

According to the examination conducted by the group:

— Both products are not authorized and have no Certificate of Product Notification as per the FDA product verification portal;

— Both products are past their labeled expirations dates of August 27, 2022 for Vangin Color Spray and August 21, 2022 for Mefapo Color Spray , noting that some variants of the latter will expire on November 11, 2022 (both Vangin and Mefapo products were manufactured in 2019); and

—  Both products lack the necessary labeling information. 

While the product description, ingredients’ list and precautionary warnings are written in English, the other labeling information of Vangin Color Spray is written in Chinese, particularly the name and address of the manufacturer and country of manufacture. 

As for Mefapo Color Spray, the name and address of its manufacturer or the company or person responsible for placing the product in the market are not indicated on the label.

As for the product ingredients, Vangin Color Spray contains carbon black as written on the label.  While included in Annex IV of the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive, or the List of Coloring Agents Allowed for Use in Cosmetic Products, there is no assurance that its use in the said product meets the safety requirements as it has not gone through the FDA’s verification process.

According to the US-based Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, “carbon black is a dark black powder used as a pigment in cosmetics. It is produced by incomplete combustion of carbon-based products such as coal tar, and has been linked to increased incidence of cancer and negative effects on organs.”

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies carbon black as “possibly carcinogenic to humans,” while carbon black (i.e., “airborne, unbound particles of respirable size”) is listed in California’s Proposition 65, or “chemicals that are known to cause cancer or birth defects or other reproductive harm.”

To avoid health risks, the US-based Campaign for Safe Cosmetics are urging consumers to “read labels and avoid cosmetics and personal care products containing carbon black, D & C black no. 2, acetylene black, channel black, furnace black and thermal black.”

The EcoWaste Coalition has already reported its findings to the FDA.

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