Abu Dhabi: Public health officials as well as medical experts are urging residents to scrutinise the cosmetics and chemicals being used by salons before allowing stylists to use them for certain beauty enhancing procedures.

The warning followed a recent discovery by inspectors from the Municipality of Abu Dhabi City that certain establishments in the capital were using henna that was prepared using flammable petroleum-based products on their customers.

The inspection team also seized 535 packs of unlabelled herbal oils and creams, 32 units of expired cosmetics and 46 packs of chemicals which are used for the treatment of kidney stones and rheumatism.

"The use of expired products or cosmetics that are incompatible with one's skin type can result in uncomfortable allergies, and some chemical types can even be carcinogenic. It is therefore imperative for people to check what products are being used on them at parlours," Dr P. Mohan Kumar, a dermatology specialist at Lifeline Hospital, told Gulf News.

"Henna products are also especially likely to cause harmful allergies," the doctor warned.

"The recent municipal check was therefore intended to ensure that parlours were following proper health and hygiene procedures," said Khalifa Mohammad Al Rumaithi, director of public health at the municipality.

"The underlying aim was to educate parlour attendants about sanitation practices, while also informing people visiting the salons about ways to safeguard their own health. At the same time, any abuse of health procedures and safety standards are also curbed as part of this ongoing series of municipal inspections," Al Rumathi said.

The inspections also led to the seizure of 35 units of Seven Slim, a weight-loss product that was banned in April by the Health Authority Abu Dhabi for containing harmful substances.

Explaining the harmful effects of unsafe cosmetics, Dr Kumar said he attended to at least one patient a month who had allergic reactions to a henna product.

"Most often, it is hard to tell what compounds were used to prepare henna mixes. It is therefore safest to apply a henna brand that lists ingredients on the packaging. If not, people should try to stick to brands that they have used before without facing any adverse effects," he said.

Test first

The dermatologist also insisted that people visit parlours with qualified attendants, and personally test products before using it.

"All that needs to be done is to apply a small quantity of a product on your forearm or nape of your neck, and wait for 10 minutes. If there is no reaction, the product is safe for use in most cases. Of course if there is an adverse reaction, people must immediately visit their doctors," he added.