The Lowdown on the Brazilian Blowout

Reports of formaldehyde in the Brazilian Blowout finally reached the tipping point when the US Department of Health and Labor issued a health alert to hair salon owners and employees who have been exposed to formaldehyde, even though the hair straightening product was marketed as formaldehyde-free.

The alert was issued following investigations by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in Oregon and California as well as Connecticut Department of Public Health. OSHA says their alert is merely a recommendation on how workers can protect themselves and will continue investigating the matter with the FDA and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

The Brazilian Blowout is a hair-straightening treatment that was first introduced in Brazil in 2005. It is a method of temporarily straightening hair using a mixture of keratin and other chemicals with a flat iron. In North America and Europe it is available in several brands and the process often contains varying levels of formaldehyde. The EPA classifies formaldehyde as a probable carcinogen. It is not only harmful to the customers who opt for the treatment but it also affects the stylists.

Formaldehyde is easily absorbed by the body when inhaled, ingested, or comes into contact with the skin and eyes. Exposure to formaldehyde can lead to death, blindness, eye and skin irritation or burns, respiratory problems, headaches, gastrointestinal problems, and cancer. It is also known to cause birth defects. When used in the Brazilian Blowout, where it gets aerosolized, it facilitates easy inhalation into the lungs and contact with skin.

Canadian authorities issued a warning about possible health hazards of formaldehyde. France has pulled products with high levels of formaldehyde. In Oregon, the occupational health agency tested 100 samples and found many labeled "formaldehyde free" had more than the 0.1% of the chemical allowed in U.S. products.

Brazilian Blowout continues to maintain that their products are 100% safe, contain no harsh chemicals, and are formaldehyde-free. They have released their own Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) outlining the safety of the Brazilian Blowout Solution. Despite its safety claims, Brazilian Blowout refuses to release their product's ingredient list, as required by law, on the basis that a patent is pending on their formulation and their product's ingredients are privileged and confidential company information. Despite providing no evidence to support such claims, Brazilian Blowout continues to aggressively market their products as 100% safe and formaldehyde free.

Many stylists report that regular use of formaldehyde treatments cause hair to fall out. The price of beauty is indeed steep but it need not be foolish.

Photo Credit: Brazilian Blowout