|Contributor: Sharon Chen
Hair Straighter under federal investigation
SAN DIEGO – Running her fingers through long, straight and smooth locks, Jennifer Wright has every girl’s dream hair “I didn’t even do too much to it today,” squeals Wright. Her Hollywood hair is the kind Amber Dare can only dream of, “My hair is not so much curly as it is wavy, the drier it gets the poufier it gets.”
So, Amber’s turning to a process called Brazilian Blowout, which uses Keratin, a primary skin protein to straighten hair.
“You just have to dust the product on lightly, you’re not supposed to saturate the hair.” explains Bonnie Lawrence, Amber’s Hairstylist.
The results are always picture perfect, but potential side effects have Brazilian Blowout under federal investigation, with Oregon and California pursuing their own claims. The product sometimes contains high levels of formaldehyde, as high as 8%.
“It’s not just the immediate effects, but the long term effects,” said Dr. Flora Danque with Alvarado Hospital, she has extensively studied the Brazilian Blowout case. “They’re saying anywhere from 4 to 12 percent that’s scary, that’s scary.”
Danque says the impact of Formaldehyde has been studied in regards to funeral home workers, “the more they were exposed to the formaldehyde the higher the risk for leukemia and also the nasal pharyngeal cancers,” said Danque. “When it comes down to it, you have to proceed with caution.”
“It just scared the death out of me, I just never wanted to use that kind of thing.” said Carole Thompson, Hairstylist.
Thompson knows all too well the side-effects of the Brazilian Blowout from other hairstylists, “The burning of the eyes, coughing, the taste, finger numbing, there’s all kinds of things.”
It’s why Thompson chooses to use alternative products, “I educate myself I pick and choose, just like the consumer should, you pick you choose, you learn you educate and then you continue” said Thompson.
Bonnie Lawrence says she educates herself too, “I read a lot of what’s going on and I try to keep up on things, there seems to be a lot of people saying it’s testing above the levels, and a lot of people who are saying it’s testing below the levels.”
And she says for now she’ll continue to stand behind Brazilian Blowout, “Until I feel like there’s concrete evidence and no one’s able to find anything on the other side of the accusations, I think it’s fine,” said Lawrence.
San Diego 6 did try to contact Brazilian Blowout, but our calls were not returned. The company has said they now have a new formula, Brazilian Blowout Zero, which they claim is formaldehyde-free. The company has issued the following statement:
At Brazilian Blowout, the safety of our products, stylists and consumers is our number one priority. We stand behind the integrity of our product, and affirm that our professional solution is indeed formaldehyde-free.
As a result of the Oregon division of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration‘s (OSHA) recent claim, Brazilian Blowout is conducting a thorough investigation of these allegations to ensure that accurate data is released to the public.
With regards to OSHA’s claim, the actual source of the formulation tested has not been identified, and was not submitted by the Brazilian Blowout company itself. Because OSHA did not request a sample from the company directly, there is no reason to believe that the formulation tested and found positive for traces of formaldehyde was indeed Brazilian Blowout product. This represents a clear violation of proper testing protocol, and this gross negligence on the part of OSHA invalidates.
Consumers and salon professionals are urged to report adverse experiences to FDA in either of the following ways, by contacting local FDA offices at the following link:
or you can Report online to FDA’s MedWatch adverse event reporting system at www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/medwatch/ You also may call Medwatch at 1-800-332-1088 1-800-332-1088 to request a reporting form by mail.
The FDA says it will continue to monitor this problem and will report on any new developments.
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