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Hair Cleansing Products

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CFSAN is aware of adverse events, such as hair loss, hair breakage, balding, itching and rash reported to occur with the use of hair cleansing products based on reports submitted to the CFSAN Adverse Event Reporting System (CAERS). Reported products include shampoos, conditioners, and cleansing conditioners, often referred to as “shampoo alternatives,” which are marketed as being free of detergents and foaming agents.

The FDA first became aware of adverse health effects associated with the use of cleansing conditioners in 2016, after receiving nearly 1,400 adverse reports that year alone. The FDA has not been able to determine the cause of these reported reactions because we do not have enough information. 

The FDA regulates cosmetics, including cleansing conditioners, under the authority of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) and the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act. Under these laws, cosmetic products and ingredients, with the exception of color additives, are not approved by the FDA before they go on the market, and cosmetic companies are not required to share their safety data or consumer complaints with the FDA. However, cosmetics must be properly labeled and must not be adulterated. For example, they must be safe under the labeled or customary conditions of use. Companies and individuals who manufacture or market cosmetics are responsible for the safety and labeling of their products and ingredients. The FDA can take action against cosmetics on the market that do not comply with the law. To learn more, see FDA Authority Over Cosmetics

While the FDA is investigating the mechanisms and possible ingredients that may be causing these adverse events, we encourage physicians and other health care providers to submit an adverse event report to the FDA if they have patients who have experienced such problems. Additionally, consumers who experience problems such as hair loss, balding, itching, rash or other reactions, as a result of using one of these products, should stop using the product immediately and contact their health care provider. Then, inform FDA about the incident as soon as possible.

You can report a reaction online or by phone:

When you report your problem to the FDA, please provide as much detail as possible about the specific product you used and your reaction. More information about these products and the reported problems can help us in our investigation to determine the cause and what actions we can take under the laws we enforce to protect and promote public health.

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