Brazilian Blowout Makers Agree to Label Cancer-Causing Ingredients
After spending months denying claims that its products are hazardous to salon workers and to customers, the makers of the popular Brazilian Blowout hair-straightening treatment has agreed to start posting labels on its products warning customers that the products contain formaldehyde gas, a known cancer causer.
The company was first called out for adding the cancer-causing preservative to its products by Oregon's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which found many Brazilian Blowout products to be labeled "formaldehyde free" even when they contained up to 8 percent formaldehyde. Last November, the California Attorney General filed an injunction against that same company under its newly enacted California Safe Cosmetics Act, claiming that the products expose salon workers to formaldehyde at levels eight times higher than what is considered safe. At that point, GIB LLC, the makers of Brazilian Blowout, were still labeling their products formaldehyde free.
Read More: Brazilian Blowout Deemed Hazardous by OSHA
That lawsuit was finally settled this week. GIB LLC will now start labeling its products in such a way as to let people know they contain formaldehyde gas, which is also responsible for nosebleeds, skin irritation, and respiratory problems. "California laws protect consumers and workers and give them fair notice about the health risks associated with the products they use," the state's Attorney General Kamala Harris said in a statement. "This settlement requires the company to disclose any hazard so that Californians can make informed choices." The company will also have to pay $600,000 in fines for not alerting salon owners sooner, and will have to provide materials alerting salon workers about proper safety precautions.
Ironically, though, the products are still available, in full formaldehyde-poisoned glory. Despite having been banned in Canada and other countries, Brazilian Blowouts will not be any less toxic after this recent ruling than they were when Oregon's OSHA first brought attention to the issue in 2010, since no portion of the ruling requires them to reduce the levels of the carcinogen—just alert people to the fact that they're there.
Formaldehyde is toxic even at very low levels, and its status as a cancer causer was recently upgraded from "anticipated" to "known." Leaving the product in salons threatens not just the women receiving the treatment, but also the salon's workers and other patrons, whether they care about straight hair or not.
Read More: 5 Ways to Avoid Exposure to "New" Cancer Causers
It is possible to get straight hair in a less-toxic way. Here are some tips from Stephanie Faerber, owner of Lux: The Eco-Friendly Salon in Bethlehem, PA.
• To tame curls, Faerber suggests safer products like Simply Organics Anti-Frizz Crème and Soft Gel mixed together. "These two products are amazing for both a soft curl look and a straight, smooth look," she says.
• Use a flatiron. Sometimes the extra effort is worth it, she says. "While I understand wanting a quick fix, I don't think it's worth the price of one's health." Since your hair stylist knows your hair type best, ask her about proper flat-ironing techniques.
• Wash and condition less often. Doing so could mean your style may last for two or three days, says Faerber.