Years of hair treatments may have harmed our fertility

IT IS the hair brand with more than two million Instagram followers, but Olaplex has horrified its legion of female fans over its use of an ingredient that has been linked to infertility.

The preferred product of Kim KardashianRosie Huntington-Whiteley and Jennifer Lopez use butylphenylmethylpropional, which has been banned in beauty products in the EU.

Faye said:


Faye said: “When brands lose trust, it’s hard to win it back”
Jade says she will now check the ingredient list before using any product


Jade says she will now check the ingredient list before using any productCredit: Delivered

And while the UK is expected to follow, a ban has yet to be finalized.

Also known as Lilial, the scent has been classified as “toxic to reproduction,” meaning it can cause adverse reproductive effects in large doses.

TikTok videos about the ingredient – found in Olaplex’s No3 Hair Perfector – have racked up millions of views, prompting some concerned customers to drop the brand over fears it could affect their fertility, despite the amount used is low.

It has also raised concern among pregnant women after claims that the ingredient could also be harmful to fetuses.

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Hotel worker Jade Palmer, 24, of Potters Bar, Herts, was horrified after reading about the controversy.

She says: “I was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) at the age of 15 and endometriosis last year.

“Both conditions can cause fertility issues that are beyond my control.

“When I saw the controversy surrounding Olaplex, I felt uncomfortable. It worried me immediately as all I could think about was how it might affect me in the long term.

“I was scared because I already have problems.”

Online content creator Faye Dickinson, 29, from East London, also had concerns. She says, “I’ve been using Olaplex for six years.

“My hair is quite dark and I bleach it a lot – Olaplex helps me keep it moisturized and in good condition.

“When I first read about the ingredient being linked to infertility, I panicked. That stopped me from using it.”

Since its launch in 2014, Olaplex has built a solid reputation for repairing dry and brittle hair – and has been hot on the lips of every beauty enthusiast.

Its signature bottles, No1 Bond Multiplier and No2 Bond Perfector, are made famous by a patented single ingredient, bis-aminopropyl diglycol dimaleate, which appears to magically repair damage commonly seen in bleached hair.

An instant hit, Olaplex launched products for the home and its #3 Hair Perfector, which strengthens bonds and costs £26, went viral – with a whopping 30.5million views on TikTok.

Its huge following prompted fashion marketing student Julie Desmond*, 24, from Bromley, Kent, to try it out earlier this year.

She says, “Everyone has always raved about Olaplex and many of my friends have recommended it to me. So I finally decided to give it a try. I bought a bottle of Olaplex No3 from Look Fantastic in mid-January.

But just a month later, I saw people’s reaction to Lilial and it scared me — all I saw on TikTok was “Olaplex will make you infertile.”

“I contacted Look Fantastic and asked them why my product contains Lilial. I would never have known if TikTok hadn’t existed.

“They issued a full refund and informed me that the products containing Lilial were recalled and Olaplex no longer makes products containing Lilial.”

Beware of other villains

ZINC PYRITHIONES – in anti-dandruff shampoo

Dr. Marie Drago, Founder of Gallinee, says: “This historic anti-dandruff ingredient has just been banned in the EU – but not in the UK – for its potential carcinogenic potential. It’s fairly safe at the concentrations used in shampoos, but there are better alternatives.”

SODIUM LAURYL SULFATE (SLS) and SODIUM LAURETH SULFATE (SLES) – in shampoo, toothpaste and shower gel

dr Marie says, “These lathering ingredients are efficient and cheap, so you’ll find them in most shampoos.

“They tend to slough off your scalp and can cause itching and redness. Your scalp microbiome doesn’t like this either, preferring gentler cleansers.”

TRICLOSAN – in shampoo, toothpaste and deodorant

dr Osman Bashir Tahir of Halcyonaesthetics.co.uk says: “Until recently it was an important antibacterial agent in soap bars.

“It’s a known hormone disruptor — it has the ability to disrupt estrogen (female hormone), androgen (male hormone), and thyroid systems.

“Triclosan is thought to accumulate in fat cells and keep the body in a state of toxicity.”

ALCOHOL – in skin care

dr Osman says: “Products like ethanol, isopropanol and propanol are loaded with toxic and/or bad-tasting additives that make them unfit for human consumption and are the most irritating to the skin.

“These types of alcohol, typically found in toners, soaps, and cleansers, tend to be very harsh and overly drying to your skin.”

POLYETHYLENE/PEGs – in skin care

dr Osman says, “The tiny beads in face or lip scrubs and scrubs are made from polyethylene (because they’re gentler on the skin than natural scrubs like walnut shells).

“Polyethylene is considered a skin irritant and should never be used on broken skin.”

Olaplex pledged to have the ingredient removed from #3 by January 2022 — two months before the EU ban goes into effect.

Olaplex Chief Scientist Lavinia Popescu says: “Olaplex used to use Lilial in small amounts as a fragrance in No3 Hair Perfector. It is not an active or functional ingredient.

“Although this phase-out is limited to the EU, as a precautionary measure Olaplex has removed Lilial from our #3 hair perfector globally. As of January, Olaplex no longer sells products using Lilial in the UK or EU.”

But as a haircare giant with annual sales in excess of £280million, the scandal has dealt a blow to its reputation.

So is there anything to worry about?

dr Michelle Wong, a beauty ingredient expert and known as @labmuffin on Instagram and TikTok, says: “This ban has been in place for some time – the safety assessment concluding Lilial was ‘unsafe’ was done in May 2019 released.

“That doesn’t mean you’re likely to become infertile if you’ve used products containing lilies before.

“Toxicologists calculated what would happen if you used 15 products containing Lilial every day and found that your exposure would still be 80 times less than the expected negative effect.

“Hair products are relatively low-risk because of the nature of the hair formulations and the way you use them. It is estimated that from hair products you get 10,000 times less than the expected amount to have a negative effect.

“They estimated that fragrance contains 70 times more lilies than hair care products. So this is a precautionary ban.”

Color technician Tyler Moore of Salon Live True London says: “I was surprised to hear about this ingredient controversy.

I am exposed to Olaplex daily as as a color tech it is a treatment that has worked wonders on colored hair.

This ingredient has not been used in our salon since January and we still recommend Olaplex for colored hair.

“Since knowledge of Lilial has grown, most major brands have reformulated their products to remove this ingredient.”

While the sale of products containing the ingredient is now banned in Europe, the UK is in the regulatory process to implement similar restrictions.

And you can still buy items containing the ingredient from other popular brands sold on sites like Asos and Beauty Bay.

Mehmet Goker, Specialist in Dermatology at Vera Clinic in Turkey, adds: “Lilial has been used in cosmetics and home care products for many years – the likelihood of it affecting fertility is very low.”

Faye is still not convinced. She says, “I will not use Olaplex because when brands lose customer trust, it’s difficult to win it back.”

And Jade agrees. She says: “I don’t think I will ever return to the brand.

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“I know how good Olaplex is, but it made me realize we need to be more careful about what we use.

“I often don’t have time to check ingredient lists, and with big, hyped brands, I often feel like I don’t need to — but I’m getting started now.”

  • *Some names have been changed.
Olaplex has fans divided over its use of an ingredient that has been linked to infertility - pictured Rosie Huntington-Whiteley


Olaplex has fans divided over its use of an ingredient that has been linked to infertility – pictured Rosie Huntington-WhiteleyPhoto credit: Getty
The California company is also favored by Kim Kardashian


The California company is also favored by Kim KardashianCredit: pierresnaps/Skims/Instagram
TikTok videos about the ingredient - found in Olaplex's No.3 Hair Perfector - have racked up millions of views, prompting some customers to snub the brand


TikTok videos about the ingredient – found in Olaplex’s No.3 Hair Perfector – have racked up millions of views, prompting some customers to snub the brand

https://www.thesun.co.uk/fabulous/17898828/olaplex-infertility-scare-hair-treatments/ Years of hair treatments may have harmed our fertility

Dais Johnston

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