Is It the End of Lead Acetate?

Lead acetate is one of the longest used substances in hair colorants. This chemical compound, which has been in the past used not only to cover gray hair but also to sweeten wine, contains lead and it is therefore poisonous and sometimes even suspected of being carcinogenic. The best known products for covering grey hair that used to employ this compound (some of them still do) are Grecian formula, Greyban, Youthair and Restoria. They all work slowly and gradually, as their greatest benefit is that people do not notice you are covering your grey but their disadvantage is that you have to use them quite often to achieve satisfactory coverage. However, using them often increases your chances of poisoning.

Although lead acetate cannot be absorbed through the skin, one should avoid one’s fingers coming in contact with one’s lips after you touched your hair. Although there aren’t any documented cases of lead poisoning caused by hair colorants, lead acetate was suspended from cosmetics products first in Canada and some European countries about 10 years ago and now since the beginning of this year this ban applies to the whole European Union and it may only be a question of time when lead acetate has been banned also in the US. Although producers of the aforementioned hair colorants reformulated their products and are now using similar compounds based on bismuth, copper or even silver, these products are not very much liked by consumers due to their lower efficacy when compared with the traditional lead acetate based formula.

Filed under: Covering Gray Hair