Does Olaplex No 3 Hair Perfector actually affect fertility? Experts weigh
Haircare brand Olaplex has removed lilial from its popular No. 3 Hair Perfector after the EU banned the ingredient. Lilial, also known as butylphenyl methylpropional, is a fragrance used in many cosmetics and household cleaning products. However, researchers found in a 2019 study that the fragrance compound “cannot be considered safe” because it was found to have a negative effect on reproduction.
Lilial’s ban sparked concern on social media this week when consumers learned that No. 3 Hair Perfector contained the ingredient, with many shying away from the Olaplex brand altogether over fears it could cause health issues. infertility.
However, experts say consumers shouldn’t throw away their shampoos, conditioners and hair care products just yet, or not without at least doing their research.
In 2019, the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) published its study on lilial. The study involved feeding animals, specifically rats, mice and dogs, lilial over a range of short and long periods and at relatively high concentrations. While regulators have recorded adverse effects on reproductive performance in test subjects, no studies have been conducted to assess the effect of lilial on human reproductive performance.
“Lilial present in cosmetic formulations, which are not intended to penetrate through skin or hair, is very unlikely to have a direct link to infertility”, The cosmetic regulatora regulatory affairs professional who prefers to remain anonymous because he has worked in the industry for six years, said The Independent. “When examining lilial, toxicologists use a ‘margin of safety’. This means that the actual safe limit is only a fraction of what should actually cause an effect.
Safety assessments of Lilial have been ongoing for some time. Investigations began in 2015 when the SCCS, which reviews ingredients used in consumer products, issued an advisory in which it determined that lilial was a CMR – carcinogenic, mutagenic or reprotoxic.
“It did not necessarily imply that the ingredient was harmful and in fact the ingredient was initially concluded to be safe until further research is done to understand potential aggregate exposure,” said Esther Olu, cosmetic chemist and beautician. In 2017, safety data on the ingredient was submitted to the European Chemicals Agency. From December 2017 to February 2018, the lilial study was conducted before being later published in 2019.
“There is such a long and careful process that all chemical substances, including those used in cosmetics and household products, must go through before publishing an amendment to the regulations,” said The Cosmetic Regulator. “Whenever there is a ban, the EU cannot expect industry for all products to be taken off the market or reformulated immediately because that is not feasible, and also due financial aspects it could impose on an existing stock worth thousands of pounds.”
In a statement to IndependentOlaplex said it has now removed lilial from its No. 3 hair perfector worldwide, adding that Olaplex products containing lilial have not been sold in the UK since January.
“At Olaplex, lilial was previously used in small amounts as a fragrance in No. 3 Hair Perfector. It is not an active or functional ingredient,” a spokesperson said.
Contrary to popular belief, Olaplex users shouldn’t worry about being sterile after using No 3 Hair Perfector. Even if lilial was present in the product formula in small amounts – 0.1% to be exact – hair products pose a relatively low risk, as it is applied to the hair and does not penetrate deep into the skin, according to the Cosmetic Regulator.
On the contrary, the lilial ban shows the immense power that social media has over consumer decisions. “When it comes to consumers separating fact from fiction, I suggest believing in science and listening to the relevant experts,” Olu said.