Q. I’ve been using a Grecian Formula for my graying hair for years. It has lead acetate in it. I checked the FDA website. They say they tested it and approved it. The lead has me a bit concerned. Any thoughts?
A. The FDA does no testing of its own but did approve lead acetate as a “progressive” hair dye. That means it gradually darkens hair with repeated use.
The FDA concluded in 2002 that according to safety tests it received, “No significant increase in blood levels of lead was seen in the trial subjects and the lead was not shown to be absorbed into the body through such use.”
Despite this reassurance, questions remain about the safety of lead-containing hair dyes. Canadian and European Union health authorities have banned lead from hair dyes and personal care products.
A study published in the Journal of the American Pharmaceutical Association (Jan/Feb, 1997) revealed that some lead residue is left on hands even after washing. Rubbing hands through hair may contaminate hands again.
The researchers noted that, “Given the requirement to continually reapply these hair coloring agents, the user becomes a living purveyor of lead contamination.”