In late 2010, the ACCC identified a number of overseas reports and received anecdotal complaints from consumers and salon operators alleging excessive formaldehyde concentrations in cosmetics, particularly in hair straightening products. The ACCC also became aware, through routine liaison, that complaints had also been received by the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS) and State Health Departments. The ACCC proposed that a research survey of formaldehyde concentrations in cosmetic products be undertaken in collaboration with NICNAS.
The aim of the survey was to provide an indication of whether there may be safety concerns or misleading or deceptive conduct associated with formaldehyde content in cosmetics. The survey was designed to determine the concentrations of formaldehyde in a representation of cosmetic products currently available in Australia.