**Update Jan 30, 2012***Legal settlement against the company that makes Brazilian Blowout requiring “caution” labels to be on every bottle. See full story here.
When I first heard about a “Brazilian Blowout” it sounded like the title of a new reality show that mixed Carnival with dynamite.
Brazilian Blowout is actually a hair treatment that is supposed to give those with frizzy or wavy hair, smooth shiny hair that lasts for months. The treatment, done in a salon and costing from $200 – $500 per treatment,, consists of several products that are applied to your hair in a series of steps — similar to getting a perm. The term “brazilian blowout” has become synonymous with the dozens of products out there that straighten hair.
The first company (GIB, LLC) trademarked the name “Brazilian Blowout” and that is the product mentioned here. There are many other products that are brazilian blowout type treatments.
The Brazilian Blowout story goes something like this:
Once upon a time, in September of 2010, there was a greedy man who lived in North Hollywood who acquired a product for straightening hair. This product worked so well that everyone was asking for it from teens to hollywood stars. He saw lots of money in the product and wanted to cash-in fast. He named the product “Brazilian Blowout”.
But there was one problem: the formula contained high levels of formaldehyde and other toxic chemicals — over 100 x what is legal.
“No problem”, thought the greedy man, “I just won’t include those ingredients on the list that I am required to print on the bottle. I also won’t include any precautions for salon professionals or anyone else. I mean…what could happen?”
So the Brazilian Blowout became a huge success. This product was in salons from coast to coast and soon went national. Everyone wanted this amazing new treatment.
But soon, salon professionals began complaining of symptoms while working with the Brazilian Blowout product. These symptoms included:
- shortness of breath and worsening asthma (for those who had it)
- burning eyes
- bloody noses
- itching skin
- sore throats
- chest pain
Starting with California and Oregon, US government agencies seized samples from salons and warehouses where the product was sold. Testing on these products revealed that they contained:
- extremely high levels of formaldehyde (6 – 10%) Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen. It does cause cancer with exposure. Those working with formaldehyde must wear protective clothing and respirators as the fumes are highly toxic. US regulations require products containing 0.1% or more of formaldehyde list safety precautions on their MSDS or Material Safety Data Sheet.
- methanol —used in antifreeze, highly toxic and fatal when combined with formaldehyde, and causes blindness in very small doses
- ethanol– booze
- beta hydroxyl ethyl methacrylate taken from the data sheet for this chemical it states: “Asthma-like symptoms may continue for months or even years after exposure to the material ceases…….the material may produce respiratory tract irritation, and result in damage to the lung including reduced lung function.”
None of these chemicals were listed on the MSDS of the Brazilian Blowout product and the Brazilian Blowout products were labeled “Formaldehyde Free”
The chemicals in the Brazilian Blowout were at the same levels and combination as used in enbalming fluid. I guess if you died during your hair treatments, you’d be in luck!
By late October 2010, the warnings spread across the US and Canada to be aware of these mislabeled products and to avoid using them as they were toxic. California department of health issued a complete breakdown of the problem. Alerts went out by every form of media possible warning salon owners and the general public.
Updates are being issued by the US FDA (Federal Drug Administration) regularly.
Complaints mainly involved salon professionals because of their constant exposure. But customers were also exposed. Your skin is a sponge soaking in what is applied to it. Is it healthy to get regular doses of toxic chemicals applied to your scalp?
So after the makers of Brazilian Blowout paid their fine, they filed a lawsuit against the Oregon safety departments that were doing the investigation and getting the word out that this product was dangerous. The makers of Brazilian Blowout claimed that “publicity surrounding the formaldehyde findings damaged the company’s name and caused irreparable harm” and they accused Oregon OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) of “overstepping its bounds as the state’s workplace safety watchdog.
The suit has since been dropped and is gone. But the Brazilian Blowout isn’t!
The company has since launched a new product “Brazilian Blowout Zero”. This product claims to use a “plant derived bonding system with 0% formaldehyde”. And for those of you that still want the “original formula”, it is available with full disclosure of their chemical ingredients which they clan are completely safe. Hmm…..really? You can read the Safety Data Sheet here. I’ll let you decide.
For women who want straight hair, a little exposure to toxic chemicals is worth it.. Women will put themselves in danger every day in the name of “beauty”. That’s why this company is still in business. And that’s why you can’t spit without hitting a tanning salon in the USA.
The moral of the story:
Big money does not care that your health is in jeopardy when you are exposed to their products. They want your money and they are willing to put your health at risk to get it. You need to pay attention to what you are putting in and on your body. Get as much information as you can, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
You have a right, AND a responsibility to know what is in every product that touches you. Decide if it’s worth it to you to find the healthier options.
Here are some natural treatments you can try:
Hot Oil Treatment: heat 1 cup olive oil in microwave for 15 seconds. Stir so it’s not hot enough to burn you. Apply to entire head working it into hair from ends to tips. Wrap our hair up “turban style” in a warm towel (straight from dryer) and let it soak for 20 -30 minutes. Wash as usual. Use 1 – 2 times/week only. (You can actually dry your scalp out if you use too much oil by “turning off” your scalp’s natural oil producers).
Coconut milk and lemon juice: Mix 1 cup coconut milk with 1/2 cup lemon juice. Put mixture in the fridge for 15 minutes until it thickens. Apply evenly to hair and massage in. Apply a shower cap and leave on for 1 hour. Wash with regular shampoo. Over time, the treatment will soften and straighten your hair.
But you know….curly hair is “in”.