The Peter Coppola Keratin treatment is very well rated among stylists and customers because of its great performance. However, there is much confusion around the various web resources regarding the safety of this product line, which led me to a conversation with Steven Lightfoot, Artistic Director and Vice President of Product Development at Peter Coppola Beauty.
During my conversation with Steven, it became clear that safety information disseminated across the web is quite outdated.
Several websites such The Environmental Working Group (EWG) and Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) had expressed concerns about levels of formaldehyde detected from the Coppola products in 2011. This data became viral as other blogs emphasized the dangers of using the Coppola products. Ecowatch.com also published another list of internationally banned products in 2014. Among them, Coppola/Copomon enterprise was also highlighted.
Clearing out the air…
Steven explained that in 2010, Peter Coppola abandoned Keratin Complex, which back then, was the brand under fire by the various regulatory agencies. About 2 years later, a new company was created: Peter Coppola Beauty. This company as he puts it, is a new entity with no associaton with the Coppola/Copomon enterprise. What that implies is that their line of products are formaldehyde-free and have never used any formaldehyde releasers/encapsulators. He also emphasized that the company strives to create safe products for hairdressers and customers.
Ingredients in Peter Coppola Keratin treatment
Aqua, Oxoacetamide Carbocysteine, Oxoacetamide Amino Acids, Cetearyl Alcohol, Dicetyl Phosphate, Ceteth-10 Phosphate, Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine, Cyclopentasiloxane, Alcohol Denat., Cetyl Alcohol, Aminofunctional Siloxane, Octamethylcyclotetrasiloxane, Polyoxyethylated Tridecyl Alcohol, Hexadecyltrimethyl Ammonium Chloride, Keratin, Citric Acid, PEG-12 Dimethicone, Parfum, Polyquaternium-53, Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil, Tocopheryl Acetate, Linalool, Citronellol, Coumarin.
From the list given on the Coppola website, the key ingredient is oxoacetamide carbocysteine also known as Glyoxyloyl carbocysteine. This ingredient operates at low pH to break the curls, and crosslinks to some degree with the keratin of the hair from its aldehyde entity. Note that this chemical is not as aggressive and reactive as formaldehyde for crosslinking. The image below shows the chemical structure of oxoacetamide carbocysteine as compared to formaldehyde. The H-C=O portion gives the molecule its aldehyde character.
Oxoacetamide carbocysteine is not carcinogenic or mutagenic like formaldehyde. It is also a fairly stable liquid that doesn’t decompose easily with flat-iron temperatures. A recent report done by Dr Syed et al. for the Midwest Society for Cosmetic Chemists concludes that levels of formaldehyde released (after heating at ~450 F) were well within safety guidelines. The report can be found here.
However, this chemical is an aldehyde/acid and in its pure form, it is corrosive, and irritating to the skin, eyes, digestive or respiratory tracts. In the hair care context and at the levels used, any irritation/sensitization would most likely happen on the skin (unless someone decides to ingest the product!). As with most chemical treatments, these products should not be handled with bare hands, and should be used in well ventilated rooms.
The Peter Coppola Keratin treatment offered by Peter Coppola Beauty, can be considered safe (relative to other treatments such as hair dyes, perming etc. on the market). It is a new line of keratin treatment that has no association with the Coppola/Copomon products currently on the safety ban/advisory lists.
Is it formaldehyde-free? Literally speaking: yes, since it doesn’t contain formaldehyde/formaldehyde releasers in the ingredient list. Claiming that the product is aldehyde-free is a bit of a stretch though.