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Eyelash and Brow Tints:  Consumer Alert
What You Should Know:  Update for Practitioners and Consumers
 
Salem, OR, September 11, 2003 --
 
“Permanent” Eyebrow and Lash Tints Potentially Harmful
The Oregon Health Licensing Agency (OHLA) continues to work with the United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and other agencies to educate both consumers and cosmetology
practitioners about the potential harmful effects of dyeing or tinting eyebrows or eyelashes.
 
Both consumers and practitioners should be aware of two main points when considering dyeing or tinting eyebrows or lashes:  1) hair dyes are prohibited for use on eyebrows or lashes, and 2) eyebrow or lash tint/dye products listed in a previous “import alert” are still banned from importation into the United States.
 
Since 1938, Hair Dyes Prohibited for Eyelashes and Brows
After one woman died, another became blind and many others had allergic reactions to a product called “Lash Lure,” Congress passed the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1938.  The law—still in effect almost 70 years later—prohibits the marketing of hair dyes for eyebrow and eyelash tinting or dyeing.
 
“All hair dye products must carry warnings about the dangers of applying these products to eyebrows and eyelashes,” says Larry Peck, Manager of the OHLA’s Regulatory Operations Division.  “Practitioners who use hair dyes with these warnings are not only endangering their customers, they’re also in violation of state law and liable for civil penalties.”
 
Depending on the “gravity and magnitude” of the violation, civil penalties up to $1,000 may be imposed.  Starting January 1, 2004, amendments to state law increase maximum penalties to $5,000 (due to passage of House Bill 2325—see Section 4) under Oregon Administrative Rules (OAR) 817-090-0005concerning Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS) 690.005 to 690.235.
 
“We’d rather educate practitioners than impose fines,” adds Peck.  “But if we find a practitioner who continually and knowingly uses hair dyes improperly to tint eyebrows or lashes, we have no other recourse.”
 
Previous Import Alert on Products Still in Effect The OHLA continues to advise against the use of products listed in a U.S. Customs Import Alert (IA#53-04) issued initially in 1982 and reissued in 1992.  These products use color additives that contain coal-tar dyes, which have been considered unsafe for use on eyebrows and lashes since the passage of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1938.
 
The alert was initiated when chemical analysis indicated a number of eyebrow and lash dyes manufactured in Austria, German and England contained coal-tar dyes and were judged to pose an “acute, severe hazard to health with the
possibility of permanent injury, i.e. impaired sight, including blindness.”
 
The following products—listed in the import alert and banned from importation into the U.S.—are thought to be sold and used in beauty salons rather than directly to consumers:
 
  • Refecto Cil
  • Dr. Olbrich’s Combinal
  • Andora
  • Henna Gora
  • Permalash
  • Continental Eyelash and Eyebrow Dye
  • Elle Colour (or Elle Hair Color or New Elle)
  • Pialan Hair Dye
  • Belmacil Color
 
“Again, we strongly advise practitioners to avoid using these products, not only to prevent possible harm to their customers but to avoid fines,” says Peck.  “The import alert is still in effect, and we have received no new evidence that these products are safe to use.”
 
In fact, the FDA has yet to approve a color additive—natural or synthetic—for dyeing or tinting eyebrows or eyelashes.  And according to Peck, even if the FDA has not banned a product, the OHLA cannot attest to the product’s safety.
 
“We encourage consumers who have experienced any adverse effects after receiving services for eyebrow or lash tints—ranging from irritation to actual damage to their eyes—to contact us immediately,” suggests Peck.
 
Contact the Oregon Health Licensing Agency at 503-378-8667 or hlo.info@state.or.us.
 
“Permanent” eyelash and brow dyes should not be confused with temporary coloring products such as mascara, eye shadow, eyebrow pencils and eyeliners, which can be safely used.  For more information on eye cosmetic safety, go to the Food & Drug Administration’s web site (http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/cos-821.html.)