In an article timed to coincide with “National Brazilian Blowout Day,” the nonprofit Environmental Working Group charged that the Brazilian Blowout, and other “keratin smoothing formulations,” still contain a dangerous amount of formaldehyde. Well, shit.

According to EWG:

On August 22, 2011, the FDA issued a warning letter to GIB, LLC, the company that makes Brazilian Blowout. The letter asserted that the product was adulterated, i.e., too dangerous to sell in interstate commerce, and misbranded, due to its false claims that the product was formaldehyde-free.

But the FDA did nothing to take these products off the market, and GIB, LLC only changed its formulation in 2012 following a court order, from 11.8 percent formaldehyde to a still-potent, still very dangerous 7 percent. Formaldehyde is a known human carcinogen that carries a long-term risk of cancer, as well as short-term risks of allergic reactions like hives, blisters, and asthma.

Advertisement

Using the Freedom of Information Act, EWG obtained FDA documents “showing that salon personnel and clients have filed numerous ‘adverse event’ reports after hair straightening sessions, including massive hair loss, neck and face rashes, blistered scalps, nosebleeds, bleeding gums and loss of taste and smell.”

Tina Sigurdson, staff attorney at EWG, told Women’s Wear Daily:

“Many people underestimate or are not fully educated about the short-term and long-term risks posed by these treatments. While the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cracked down on many salons for using these products without adequate ventilation, OSHA can’t inspect every salon in the country. Moreover, consumers are buying these products online and applying them at home.”

Completely unsurprisingly, while Congress has regularly updated the “Food” and “Drug” provisions of the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act of 1938, it generally ignores the “Cosmetics” piece, leaving women and salon workers uniquely vulnerable to irresponsible business practices. Senators Diane Feinstein (D) and Susan Collins (R) are working to pass the Personal Care Products Safety Act, a bill that would update the 1938 law and require companies to prove the safety of their formulations prior to marketing them.

Advertisement

As a real idiot who, despite many reports of this nature, has gotten numerous keratin/Brazilian blowout treatments over the past decade, this is, uh, extremely concerning. “Frizz-free” and “cancer-free” are two beautiful ideals that should probably not be mutually exclusive.


Contact the author at ellie@jezebel.com.

Image via Associated Press.