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Cosmetics Association Reassures Olaplex Users After Warnings On Social Media Over Ingredient Link To Infertility And Harm To Foetuses

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Cosmetics Association Reassures Olaplex Users After Warnings On Social Media Over Ingredient Link To Infertility And Harm To Foetuses

This article is the subject of a legal complaint from Olaplex Inc.

The Cosmetic, Toiletry & Perfumery Association (CTPA) has reassured Olaplex customers about the safety of the brand’s products after warnings on social media to 'check their bottles'.

The CTPA’s statement comes after it emerged that one of the brand's bestselling products — Olaplex No. 3 — contained an ingredient which has recently been banned under EU legislation.

The fragrance, known as butylphenyl methylpropional — also referred to as lilial — was officially classified in 2020 as 'reprotoxic', meaning it could have adverse effects on fertility, as well as on the development of a foetus.


As a result of this classification, all products containing lilial had to be removed from shelves by 1st March 2022 in EU countries and Northern Ireland. The CTPA has confirmed a ban in Great Britain is expected to follow soon.

While the ingredient has been switched out for EU and NI shoppers, it appeared to still be present in recently-purchased bottles of Olaplex No. 3 in Britain and was listed as an ingredient on several major beauty sites as recently as February 2022, although this no longer appears to be the case.

Olaplex No. 3 works to repair and strengthen bonds in the hair structure. It's widely considered a 'miracle' product for its ability to restore damaged, bleached locks.

While lilial has been widely used in other household products for many years — for example in washing detergents — customers on social media have urged fellow Olaplex fans to 'check their bottles' if they are concerned.


Olaplex has since said: “While lilial was previously used as a fragrance in the Olaplex No. 3 Hair Perfector, it was never an active or functional ingredient.

"Out of an abundance of caution, we proactively removed lillial from our No.3 Hair Protector globally and have not sold products using this ingredient in the UK or EU since January of 2022.”

They added: “Cosmetic experts at The Cosmetic Regulatory have clarified that lilial is usually present in formulations at a concentration of 0.1 per cent or less and ‘is not enough to directly impact fertility’. Olaplex previously used 0.0119 per cent as a fragrance and as an inactive and non-functional ingredient in Olaplex No. 3 rinse out product.”

To understand what the ingredient could mean for women's fertility concerns, Tyla spoke to reproductive endocrinologist Dr Lora Shahine, host of fertility podcast Baby or Bust.


Dr Shahine explained that while experts are still learning about the impact of using reproductive toxins, for many products containing the chemicals, the 'poison is in the dose' - meaning it depends on the quantities used.

"We’re still learning a lot about the impact of endocrine disruptors on our reproductive and overall health. Consumers are reassured that the ‘poison is in the dose,’ and although chemicals in products can be known carcinogens or reproductive toxins, the amount in a certain product is often low and safe to use," she told Tyla.

"Unfortunately, we use many products with carcinogens and reproductive toxins every day, and these endocrine disruptors and their impact can add up."

Dr Lora adds: "We know the most about the reproductive and health problems caused by BPA, phthalates, and parabens, but there are many more endocrine disruptors to pay attention to, including butylphenyl methylpropional (lilial).


"Lilial is a fragrance used in many cosmetics and household products but has been labeled a reproductive toxin by an amendment to the European CLP Regulation and it will be prohibited in cosmetic products from 1st March 2022."

A statement by the CTPA on the ban explains: "The legislative process for BMHCA [lilial] began before the UK left the EU. It is important to stress that the CMR classification of BHMCA and the ban now in force in the EU, and expected in GB in the future, is based on the hazardous properties a substance might have under a 'worst case' situation and does not take account of whether there is any risk associated with specific uses or exposures.

"Consumers who have bought cosmetic and personal care products that contain BMHCA, can be reassured that these products are still safe to use. They will have undergone a rigorous safety assessment by an expert safety assessor to ensure their safe use."

In a further statement, the Head of Scientific Services at CTPA said: “I understand why people may have concerns that products containing butylphenyl methylpropional, known as lilial, could be harmful. I would like to provide reassurance that cosmetics and personal care products containing this ingredient are safe and do not harm fertility. 


“Lilial has been banned in the EU, and will soon be banned in the UK. This is based on extreme caution because in a ‘worst case’ scenario, where our bodies are exposed to a very large amount of it, it can have hazardous properties. This worst case scenario simply wouldn’t apply to cosmetics or personal care products, because the amount of this ingredient used in these products is hundreds, to thousands, of times less than the amount which could have any negative effect on fertility. 

“What’s more, as these products are applied to the skin or hair, and not eaten, the potential for exposure to lilial is even smaller. All of these factors are specifically considered for every individual cosmetic and personal care product through the safety assessment process.”

The CPTA said: “So if you see butylphenyl methylpropional on the ingredient list of your cosmetics and personal care products, please be reassured that these products are still safe to use.”

You can read more here and here.

This article’s headline was amended on 11th March 2022 and the article’s headline were further amended on 14 April 2022.

Featured Image Credit: Olaplex/Shutterstock

Topics: Beauty

Lucy Devine
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