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Depilatory creams not to be applied extensively

22/2011, 18.07.2011

BfR recommends observing by all means the instructions for use

The thioglycol acid contained in depilatory creams can cause light to medium severe skin irritations if not applied properly. Repeated improper application can also lead to allergic reactions. "For that reason package inserts of depilatory creams should contain corresponding information and products should only be used according to these instructions," says Professor Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel, President of the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR). They should in particular not be applied extensively, and contact with the mucous membrane should be avoided.

Consumers seem to apply depilatory creams increasingly on an extensive scale. BfR is aware of cases in which consumers suffered from skin irritations. It is not clarified whether the extremely alkaline pH value of the products has been the cause or whether this is attributable to the thioglycol acid contained in depilatory creams. It impacts the keratin in hair and destroys the hair structure. The desired effect occurs: the hair can be removed.

In accordance with the German Cosmetics Ordinance thioglycol acid may be contained in depilatories in a concentration of up to 5%. This limit value is intended for the usual application of depilatory creams which is limited to restricted skin areas. Manufacturers state as a rule on the package or on the package insert how their products should be applied. BfR recommends that consumers should by all means observe the manufacturer instructions since an improper application can cause skin irritations and allergic reactions. The products are not intended for extensive application and contact with the mucous membrane should be avoided by all means.

About BfR

The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) is a scientific institution within the portfolio of the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection (BMELV). It advises the Federal Government and Federal Laender on questions of food, chemical and product safety. BfR engages in own research on topics that are closely linked to its assessment tasks.