When the Brazilian Blowout first blew onto the scene, it seemed, to many women, too good to be true. Now, the facts are stacking up, and it turns out, it totally was. And it’s time to admit that to ourselves, and stop seeking out this sketchy treatment.
The safety of the Brazilian Blowout and other keratin smoothing products have been contested since these treatments began to get hyper-popular, but up until last month, no real governmental action was taken.
Now, the New York Times reports, the FDA has stepped in, after receiving a letter from Congress asking that they address the issue. The FDA wrote its own letter, this time to the Brazilian Blowout company, warning them that continuing to label their product – which is known to be “adulterated” (which means it contains harmful chemicals—recalled meat, by the way, is also considered “adulterated”) as “formaldehyde-free” is actively misleading potential customers. In their letter, the FDA makes it clear that the possibility of harm to both salon workers and patrons is not negligible, nor is it negotiable—and that it’s time to ‘fess up about what’s really in their miracle product.
The FDA may be new to this game, but researchers and consumer protection agencies have been warning customers of the dangers of the Brazilian Blowout since last year. After salon employees who were performing the treatment complained of nosebleeds and nausea, after scientists at the Oregon Health and Science University conducted several studies of the product, and found more than the “trace amounts” of the toxin that the company claimed the Brazilian Blowout contained and emitted.
Additionally, the Brazilian Blowout company seems to be playing a word game with the health of consumers. Essentially, when their company conducted a private study of the product, they concluded that, because the formaldehyde is combined with water during the treatment, it actually creates a different chemical, and thus, not real formaldehyde. But the other chemical that is created is methylene glycol…which is pretty much just watery formaldehyde, and comes with all of the same risks.
That information means that, for over a year, despite multiple studies and warnings, women have continued to take the word of the Brazilian Blowout company over that of scientists, public health officials, politicians and activists, all in pursuit of pretty hair.
But with the FDA’s new warning, the message is clear: the Brazilian Blowout Company has been downplaying the danger of this treatment, and it’s time to take a hard look at the lengths we are willing to go to achieve smooth, straight-ish hair. It’s time to stop the madness, and step away from the Brazilian Blowout.
Granted, the Brazilian Blowout company is not the only one that offers a “formaldehyde-free” keratin smoothing system that is actually not at all free of formaldehyde. However, their product does tend to contain the most toxins, and they’re by far the most popular, which sets them up as the easiest target to make an example of.
Unfortunately, because they’re not alone, it means that it’s hard to get a straight answer from any of the companies who make and sell these hair solutions. Which means that, until there are stricter standards on the labeling of keratin straightening products, it’s probably not safe to use any of them. Which is a bummer…but is maybe also a sign that we should stop looking for products that give us “perfect hair,” and embrace the strands we’ve got.