A new laboratory dedicated to testing the safety of cosmetics has opened in Cape Town as part of a partnership between the University of Cape Town and Groote Schuur Hospital.
The Hair and Skin Research Laboratory, which has been hailed as a world first, is located on the top floor of the Grote Schuur Hospital and has been funded through R6.8m (US$2.1m) grant from the National Skills Fund.
It is the brainchild of Professor Nonhlanhla Khumalo, Head of the Division of Dermatology at the University of Cape Town and Groote Schuur Hospital, who made headlines last year with discoveries about the safety of popular hair treatment, the Brazilian Keratin blow dry.
Profosser Khumalo’s team discovered that Brazilian Keratin blow dry treatments, aimed at smoothing and straightening hair, contained higher than recorded levels of formaldehyde.
The study found that six of the seven brands contained five times the legal limit despite five of these brands claiming that their product was “formaldehyde-free”.
The laboratory will specialize in testing on hair samples, which are more readily available than blood or urine and can display traces of drug exposure dating back months or even years.