Hair wax: Which chemicals are used in the products?

5. mar 2019

Hair wax may be used every morning when you or your children style the hair in front of the mirror. Therefore, it is a good idea to choose a product without unwanted chemicals.

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Test: Which chemicals are used in hair wax?
Photo: Anne Beck Christensen

Hair wax might be used every day

Hair wax is a popular product when for example youngsters style and shape the hair in front of the mirror. You or your children may use it every morning and are therefore in close contact with the hair wax ingredients.

This test helps you to find a hair wax free of unwanted chemicals. If you choose one of the 16 products that get the best chemical rating you reduce your exposure to substances that can cause allergy or are suspected to be endocrine disruptors.

Many of the products with the best chemical rating also have the Nordic ecolabel and an allergy certification. But there are also hair waxes without unwanted chemicals that do not have these certifications.

See the chemical test of hair wax with product pictures (in Danish)

Hair wax ingredients can contribute to unhealthy cocktail

In the test 19 hair waxes receive the lowest chemical rating. They contain chemicals that are allergenic or suspected to be endocrine disruptors.

Endocrine disrupting chemicals in each individual hair wax are not in themselves problematic for your health. But cosmetic products can contribute to a combined overall exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals that can affect human health. This is also known as the cocktail effect.

You are exposed to unwanted chemicals from many different sources in your everyday life. Therefore, it is a good idea to avoid these substances whenever you can.

If you have further questions contact project manager Stine Müller on sm@fbr.dk

Read about all tests performed by the Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals

How we tested

In the autumn 2018 the Danish Consumer Council Think Chemicals purchased 52 different hair wax products in Danish shops and on-line stores.

The ingredients lists of the hair waxes were reviewed for content of problematic chemicals. For example, substances that are suspected of being endocrine disruptors or which can cause allergy.

What we found

In the test the 52 hair waxes get the following chemical ratings:

  • 16 products get the best chemical rating, the A-flask.
  • 17 products receive a medium chemical rating, the B-flask, among other things because of content of perfume.
  • 19 products get the lowest chemical evaluation, the C-flask. They contain substances that are suspected of being endocrine disrupting or allergenic.

The following suspected endocrine disrupting chemicals were found:

  • BHT - antioxidant. Found in 3 products.
  • Parabens – preservatives. Found in 7 products.
  • Butylphenyl methylpropional – fragrance. Found in 6 products.
  • Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate - UV filter. Found in 3 products.
  • Benzophenone-3 - UV filter. Found in 1 product.
  • Cyclopentasiloxane – conditioner. Found in 1 product. The substance is also problematic for the environment and ECHA has made a restriction proposal for D5 in products including cosmetics.

The following allergenic substances were found:

  • Dmdm hydantoin - preservative. Found in 4 products.
  • Diazolidinyl urea - preservative. Found in 2 products.
  • Iodopropynyl butylcarbamate - preservative. Found in 2 products.

More info on Butylphenyl methylpropional

Butylphenyl methylpropional is a perfuming substance that is widely used in many kinds of cosmetics and personal care products.

The substance has been known for long to cause allergy and are therefore one of the 26 allergens that have to be listed in the ingredients list.

In an opinion from the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) no final conclusion on the safety of the substances has been drawn. Based on the provided data the Committee cannot exclude that butylphenyl methylpropional has genotoxic potential.

SCCS opinion on butylphenyl methylpropional

Recently Butylphenyl methylpropional has been assessed to be a suspected endocrine disruptor. This is the conclusion in a report made by researchers from the DTU Food Institute and the University of Southern Denmark (SDU) and published in October 2018.

In the report, the researchers reviewed the research on endocrine disrupting effects available for a number of substances. The substances were thereafter evaluated based on the criteria for endocrine disruptors for biocides and pesticides in EU.

The outcome of the report is that 13 substances including Butylphenyl methylpropional are considered either endocrine disrupting or suspected of being it.

DTU-Food report: List of endocrine disrupting chemicals

What the companies say

HH Simonsen Gray mud wax

The manufacturer has informed the Danish Consumer Council Think Chemicals that the product is about to be changed so that it no longer contains the suspected endocrine disrupting chemical butylphenyl methylpropional. The new product is expected to be on the shelves from March / April 2019.

Sachajuan Hair wax

The producer has informed the Danish Consumer Council Think Chemicals that they are in the process of phasing out the suspected endocrine disrupting perfuming substance butylphenyl methylpropional in their products.