Groups sue FDA over petition to regulate hair straightening

Groups sue FDA over petition to regulate hair straightening

Consumer groups are suing the Food and Drug Administration for not responding to concerns raised about a popular hair straightening treatment used in salons.

In a complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia this week, the Environmental Working Group and Women’s Voices for the Earth claimed the FDA failed to act on a citizen petition filed more than five years ago asking the agency to investigate and regulate keratin hair straighteners.

The cosmetic products routinely used in beauty salons across the nation to smooth, protect, soften and relax hair, but contain formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing chemicals.

“Ample scientific evidence, described in the petition and in scientific literature, demonstrates that use of formaldehyde-containing keratin hair straighteners poses health risks both to beauty salon workers who apply them and to the customers on whom the products are used,” the groups said in the complaint.


“And anecdotal evidence, including in adverse event reports submitted to the FDA, confirms the existence of those hazards.”

In light of these “real and serious health hazards,” the groups asked FDA to require manufacturers put proper warning labels on products and review whether manufactures should be banned from using formaldehyde as an ingredient.  

“For years stylists have reported that the application of these hair treatments caused difficulty breathing, eye irritation and nosebleeds,” Tina Sigurdson, EWG’s assistant general counsel, said in a statement.

“The FDA has been aware of the health hazards associated with the products since at least 2008. Despite these dangers, the FDA has yet to take action to remove them from the market.”