Brushing up: South Korean authorities considering hair health claims for functional foods

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

A woman combing her hair. ©Getty Images
A woman combing her hair. ©Getty Images

Related tags hair health health functional foods MFDS

South Korean food and drug authority is planning to expand the current list of health claims under the health functional foods (HFF) system to include hair health.

Currently, HFF are permitted to make eight types of claims pertaining to liver function, bones and joint, eye, gastrointestinal, skin health, reduction of body fat, maintenance of healthy blood glucose level, and enhancing urination function.   

The country’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) had published an evaluation guide​ on July 21 pertaining to the development of HFF making hair health claims.

According to the guide, permitted hair health claims include improving hair shine, as well as the elasticity or diameter of hair.

However, claims such as promoting hair growth and preventing hair loss are excluded as these are considered therapeutic claims.

As such, the tests should be designed such that there is no significant difference between the intervention and the control group in terms of age, hair length, degree of hair damage.

Instead, the tests should be designed to find out the improvement in hair elasticity or diameter or thickness, improvement in hair shine between the intervention and control groups.

Spanning at least 24 weeks or longer, the tests would have to be conducted on men and women between 18 and 60 years old who do not suffer from hair loss, though they could have mildly damaged hair.

On the other hand, the basic research such as in vitro test and animal models should explain the mechanism of action or physiological effects of the functional ingredient, on top of merely showing improved hair health.

“The MFDS expects this evaluation guide to serve as an opportunity to revitalise the development of raw materials for health functional foods related to hair health and plans to continue providing new functional evaluation guides that reflect the developmental needs of the industry,” ​said the ministry.

Anti-ageing hair care products that claim to conceal grey hair are in demand in the country according to major firms Amorepacific and LG Household & Healthcare.

The two companies have launched new products tackling grey hairs in April and May and reported sales that exceeded expectations.

Ingredients wise, Gencor has been studying the benefits of ageratum conyzoides​ for oral and topical use, while Japanese firm Toei Shinyaku has developed products containing King Agaricus (Agaricus blazei / brasiliensis),​ capsaicin, and isoflavone.  

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