Consumers who sit for a Brazilian Blowout — a trendy hair-straightening procedure — are getting more than stick-straight shiny locks. They’re also getting a dose of formaldehyde gas, a possible carcinogen, and the maker of the hair products has agreed to alert consumers of their exposure after a lawsuit against the company was settled in California, the Associated Press reports.
Hollywood company GIB LLC was accused of deceptive advertising because Brazilian Blowout Acai Smoothing Solution and Brazilian Blowout Professional Smoothing Solution were labeled formaldehyde-free. The procedure involves applying these products to the hair and sealing them in high heat to temporarily smooth the hair shaft.
Last July, Formaldehyde was added to the list of carcinogens, after it was shown to cause nasal cancer in rats. The gas reacts with the mucous membranes lining the respiratory tract and the eyes, and can cause blurred vision, headaches, dizziness, cough and sore throat, the New York Times reports. The company says they have already amended their labeling and marketing materials.
So what does the news mean for celebrities like Nicole Richie and Jennifer Aniston, and wavy-haired women who swear by the Brazilian? Not much — their exposure to the product is limited, and occurs only every four to six weeks, when they re-apply the treatment. Customers occasionally wear gas masks during the procedure.
It’s worse news for salon workers, who have been applying the serum every day for clients willing to pay big bucks for it. They’ve been duped: Glamour interviewed celebrity hairstylist Andy LeCompte about the Brazilian in 2009 and he said, “Other methods also have harsh chemicals in them like formaldehyde. The Brazilian Blowout does NOT have formaldehyde in it. And none of the chemicals in it are carcinogenic.” Though the FDA issued a warning about the Brazilian Blowout in September, it remains on the menu at the Andy LeCompte Salon, where the service begins at $350.
But the popular Brazilian treatment isn’t going anywhere, GIB CEO Mike Brady said in a statement, as reported by the Hollywood Reporter. “We are pleased to have this matter behind us and are confident these new practices will provide certified stylists who use our products each day and their loyal customers clarity and confidence."