This guide covers regulations, standards, and labelling requirements applicable to hair extensions sold in the European Union. We also explain the differences between non-flame-retardant and flame-retardant synthetic fibres used for manufacturing hair extensions, and how certain brands opt to comply with standards not originally intended for hair extensions.
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General Product Safety Directive (GPSD)
The General Product Safety Directive (GPSD) is meant to make sure that consumer products in general are safe to use before being sold in the EU market.
A list of harmonised EN standards is available for use in evaluating a product’s compliance with the GPSD, as they offer a presumption of conformity with the technical requirements of the directive.
However, this list only covers a subset of consumer products; as such, if no harmonised standards exist for products like hair extensions, then other EN, national, and international standards can be utilised to assess product safety (e.g. flammability).
The GPSD covers consumer products for safety aspects (e.g. flammability) that are not covered by other legislations.
For example, it might cover beauty products such as the following:
- Hair extensions
- Hair accessories
Importers and manufacturers should affix a traceability label on their products or the product packaging. The label should include information such as the following:
- Producer name
- Producer contact details
- Product name
- Model number
- Batch ID
The following documentation might also be required:
- User instructions
- Test reports
- Technical documentation
Hair Extension Materials
Hair extensions may be made of either human hair collected from a donor or synthetic fibres that might include different materials such as polypropylene (PP) or polyvinyl chloride (PVC).
Non-flame-retardant synthetic fibres
Synthetic hair extensions can be dangerous if they are not produced using flame-retardant fibres. The reason is that flames on non-flame-retardant synthetic fibres might spread quickly and result in the product’s resin melting into a liquid and dripping, which – upon contact with human skin – can cause burns.
Limiting oxygen index (LOI)
The limiting oxygen index (LOI) is often used to indicate the flame-retardance of a material; the higher the value, the higher the flame-retardance.
On Science Direct, the LOI is defined as the “minimum oxygen concentration (in vol%) that is necessary to sustain a stable combustion of the specimen after ignition”.
As an example, according to Kaneka, one of the market leaders in the production of synthetic fibres for hair extensions, the following three materials have lower LOI values and as such are highly flammable because they burn, melt, and drip relatively quickly:
- Non-flame-retardant polyester fibre – LOI value: 20
- Nylon fibre – LOI value: 20
- Polypropylene (PP) fibre – LOI value: 19
Flame retardant synthetic fibres: Kaneka’s Case Study
Many brands, such as Diversity Hair, claim to sell hair extensions produced with materials (e.g. Kanekalon®) that have flame-retardant properties.
Kaneka, the manufacturer of Kanekalon® fibres, claims to produce hair extensions that are “self-extinguishing”, meaning that the fire on the product ceases to burn once the fibre is removed from the flame source.
The brand supports its claims of its products’ flame retardance properties by providing Limiting Oxygen Index (LOI) values, the results of which were measured using the test method laid out in the JIS L1091 Japanese standard.
Several of Kaneka’s products have comparatively higher LOI values than the materials above-mentioned:
a. Kanekalon® – Modacrylic fibre – LOI value: 28
b. Advantage™ – Polyvinyl chloride fibre – LOI value: 36
c. Futura™ – Flame-retardant polyester fibre – LOI value: 28
d. Ultima™ – Collagen fibre – LOI value: 40
Also, Kaneka claims that Futura® products met the V-0 safety classification, which is the highest performance according to UL 94 standard requirements.
Many other brands claim to sell self-extinguishing or flame-retardant hair extensions. We list a few of those brands below:
According to our knowledge, there are no standards that specifically govern the safety of hair extensions. However, as explained in the previous section, some companies use standards that were developed for other products to assess the safety of hair extensions.
This includes the following standards:
a. EN 71-2 – Safety of Toys – Flammability
b. UL 94 – Tests for Flammability of Plastic Materials for Parts in Devices and Appliances
c. JIS L1091- Testing Methods for Flammability of Textiles
EN 71-2 – Safety of Toys – Flammability
EN 71-2 is the second standard in the EN 71 toy safety standard series and covers flammability requirements. Although this standard was developed to determine the flammability of toys for children, AnchorCert Analytical claims to use EN 71-2 to assess the flammability of hair extensions, wigs, and hair pieces.
The EN 71-2 standard provides specific requirements and procedures for testing toys meant to be worn on the head, that are made from hair, pile, or material with similar characteristics. Here are some examples:
UL 94 – Tests for Flammability of Plastic Materials for Parts in Devices and Appliances
UL 94 provides methods for testing the flammability of polymeric materials. Even though it is primarily used to test how flammable plastic materials for parts in devices and appliances are, the standard can also be used to determine the ease with which the flame on the specimen extinguishes or spreads once the sample is ignited for other materials, such as hair extensions.
The standard provides information useful for determining the flammability of hair extensions. According to UL Solutions, UL 94 groups the flammability rating of vertical specimens into three classifications: V-0, V-1, and V-2:
a. V-0: the test specimen has a burn time of up to 10 seconds, dripping of burning specimens is not allowed
b. V-1: the test specimen has a burn time of up to 30 seconds, dripping of burning specimens is not allowed
c. V-2: the test specimen has a burn time of up to 30 seconds, dripping of burning specimens is allowed
JIS L1091 – Testing Methods for Flammability of Textiles
The JIS L1091 standard provides procedures for testing the flammability of textile products and, as already explained, some companies use it to test the flammability of hair extensions (e.g. Kaneka).
Several international standards, such as the following, correspond to JIS L1091, and can be used to measure the ease of ignition, flame spread, and the surface burning time of hair extensions:
a. ISO 6940 – Textile fabrics — Burning behaviour — Determination of ease of ignition of vertically oriented specimens
b. ISO 6941 – Textile fabrics — Burning behaviour — Measurement of flame spread properties of vertically oriented specimens
c. ISO 10047 – Textiles — Determination of the surface burning time of fabrics
The Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) restricts chemicals and heavy metals in general consumer products, including hair extensions, sold in the European Union.
REACH might regulate chemicals used in the glue, treatment, and manufacturing process of hair extensions.
REACH regulates chemicals in a wide range of products, including:
- Hair pieces
Chemicals that might be used in the process of manufacturing artificial hair extensions or dyeing human hair extensions, and that are regulated by REACH, include the following:
- Acrylic amide
- Azo dyes and azo colourants
Substances of Very High Concern (SVHCs)
Substances of Very High Concern (SVHCs) under REACH are defined by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) as substances that may have permanent and detrimental effects on the environment and human health. If any SVHC fulfils criteria such as the following, ECHA can suggest their addition to the SVHC Candidate List:
a. The substance is a carcinogen, a mutagen, or toxic for reproduction
b. The substance is, according to REACH, persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic (PBT)
c. The substance may cause endocrine issues
There are several SVHC that may be present in hair extensions, including the following:
- Acrylic amide
- Cobalt(II) diacetate
REACH requires importers and manufacturers to register their products in the SCIP database, and also to inform consumers upon request if their products contain SVHCs with a concentration of more than 0.1% by weight.
Annex XVII Restricted substances
Annex XVII to REACH lists hazardous articles, mixtures, and substances that it restricts or prohibits from using in consumer products sold in the EU. The substances in Annex XVII have different constraints, such as being banned from use in any context, to being limited to certain concentration levels or weekly migration limits.
Examples of substances on Annex XVII’s list that may be present in hair extensions include azo colourants and azodyes.
Fumigation Certificate for Human Hair
Some countries, Italy for example, might require importers to provide a fumigation certificate when importing human hair, to prove that the products have been cleared of bacteria, germs, or viruses.
You can find an example of a certificate for human hair on the website of New Hair System, a company that specialises in hair prostheses.
When the goods arrive in Italy, the importer must obtain a “Nulla Osta ai fini sanitari” from the Italian Excises Customs Monopolies Agency (Agenzia Accise Dogane Monopoli di Stato).
This document is necessary to complete the customs clearance procedure and should include information such as the following:
- Document type (e.g. 10CS)
- Country of issue
- Year of issue
- Identification number
- Unit of measurement
Directive 94/62/EC on Packaging and Packaging Waste
Directive 94/62/EC was enacted to reduce the harmful effects of packaging waste on the environment, and harmonise packaging and packaging waste management in the EU. The directive applies to all packaging materials and wastes that are used or emitted at certain levels.
Directive 94/62/EC restricts the following heavy metals in packaging and packaging to a concentration of 100 ppm by weight:
- Hexavalent Chromium
Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) requirements
The Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme requires importers and manufacturers in the European Union to extend their scope of financial responsibility past the post-consumer stage by contributing a mandatory fee to an EPR organisation to collect and recycle consumer-discarded packaging and packaging waste.
There are many EPR organisations around the European Union, such as the ones listed below:
- Afvalfonds Verpakkingen (Netherlands)
- Altstoff Recycling Austria (Austria)
- Citeo (France)
- Der Grüne Punkt (Germany)