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OSHA warning on Brazilian Blowout

Is a Solution for:
Dry or Brittle Hair, Limp Hair, Dull Hair
Reviewed by Sunil May 7, 2011 13 Comments
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has finally issued a Hazard Alert for those using Brazilian Blowout Products for hair straightening. Concern surfaced when a stylist reported having nosebleeds, eye irritation, and trouble breathing while using a Brazilian Blowout product labeled "formaldehyde-free."

The alarming thing is that some of these products contain formaldehyde but aren’t listing it which has resulted in these health issues. The toxic ingredient has been linked to many maladies from blindness if eyes come in contact with it to cancer. Some salons have gone to great lengths to prevent this by either banning the product or taking precautions (eye wash stations, proper ventilation, etc) to ensure that both workers and customers aren't injured.

Unfortunately, the FDA hasn’t taken an initiative as strong as OSHA which is why so many of these Brazilian blowout knockoffs have littered the marketplace. Facing pressure from media, state, and government agencies, the makers of Brazilian Blowout introduced their Zero line in March. This product line claims to be formaldehyde-free. Then again the Oregon Health & Science University found formaldehyde levels as high as 4.85 to 10.6 percent in a treatment – that claimed to be formaldehyde free. It’s almost impossible to tell what you’re getting in a bottle these days which is why we need stricter enforcement from the FDA.

If only Mary-Louise Parker had known the potential issues. In April, the actress had a Brazilian Blowout and noted that she ended up losing hair due to the treatment. In an interview with The New York Times Magazine, Parker said the following when asked if she had any beauty mishaps lately:  "I've experienced hair fall-out in the past, and it is not fun. This treatment resulted in more".

To repair post blowout hair, see our Healthy Hair Collection

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  • September 12, 2011

    by FDA to Brazilian Blowout: Reduce Formaldehyde Content Promptly | EHS & Safety News America

    [...] May, the Truth In Aging beauty and skin-care product review website reported actress Mary-Louise Parker claimed she lost [...]

  • September 4, 2011

    by Marta

    Hi Jeanne1010, I've never had a Brazilian Blowout, but as loss of hair and decline of hair strength seems to happen as you get older, hair growth and conditioning treatments get a lot of attention at Truth In Aging. I would urge you to try emu oil, a good shampoo with as few chemicals and as many nutrients as possible. And copper peptides, but only if continued excessive shedding is an issue for you. Here's some background on emu oil: http://truthinaging.com/hair/charlize-theron-cant-live-without-emu-oil
    And shampoo suggestions: https://truthinaging.com/store/Shop-by-product-category/Hair-care/hair-growth-treatment

  • September 4, 2011

    by Jeanne1010

    Does anyone have any ideas about what to use to bring your hair "back" after a Brazilian Blowout? After I had one I experienced significant hair fallout and I now have dry, brittle-textured hair that looks a bit like straw. I started using Aveda's Hair Remedy product for damaged hair, but I don't think it is helping. When I use Moroccan Oil things improve a bit, but I wonder about using it repeatedly.

  • August 10, 2011

    by Holly

    I am a cosmetologist and was in love with the brazilian blowout when I first used it, but when I heard all the negativity about the product our salon asked a chemist to come test our products. Everyone in our salon had their bottles tested and it was full of framadahide! Our salon decided to discontinue using the product and found the Pravana profection treatment, it was tested and it is safe. Our clients have liked it better and it has no strong smell and doesn't make our eyes water or nose bleed or run so we are happy! And it's cheaper!

  • July 2, 2011

    by Jacki Abrams M.D.

    Let's get some perspective here. I've had 4 Brazilian Blowouts in the past year (3 were the original "Brazilian Blowout" and one was the Cadiveu brand). It is an AMAZING product for those of us with wavy hair who have spent hours blow-drying, flat-ironing or even chemically straightening our hair (often damaging it from all of these things), only to see it ruined by humidity. My hair is much healthier and so much easier to deal with. I am not Mary-Louise Parker but I am a pathologist who has been exposed to much greater amounts of formaldehyde, in my career of 25+ years, than what is in these hair treatments. Pathologists do not have an increased risk of cancer (like radiologists do, for example) and formaldehyde has been around for over 150 years, so we would know by now. While I don't doubt that some people are sensitive or allergic to the product, the vast majority of people, both clients and hairdressers, are not. Proper ventilation and use of the product is essential but I think the majority of negative comments I read sound like over-reactions.

  • June 24, 2011

    by Julie

    I am a cosmotologist and just this year I have performed probabaly in excess of 50 brazilian blowouts. I have learned about the dangers of the fumes through researching the internet. My co-workers and the owners of my salon think I'm an idiot for being concerned and electing to no longer perform this service, however, I feel that my health is worth more than a couple hundred bucks a pop. I feel the effects of the fumes long before the blowdry and the flat iron. Just painting it on the hair causing my eyes and my client's eyes to burn. More than one or two going on in the salon at one time causes my to literally choke and gasp for air. The owners are selling Brazillian Blowout propaganda telling our stylists that it is no more dangerous than boiling broccoli in your kitchen....imagine. I'll bet you can guess where they are regurgitating that garbage from. Don't believe it...this stuff is dangerous and the people at Brazilian Blowout will tell you anything to keep on the gravy train they've been riding for a long time. They don't care if it kills.

  • June 15, 2011

    by Kat

    My daughter had just got the brazilian blowout done and she is so happy with that service, all i know is when i took her to get the Keratin service it was so sad, she waited 2 days as noted and then wash the hair it was a complete mislead her hair reverted like crazy!!!! so yes i would do the blowout again for her she did well she had no problems with it... only problem she has now is that she cant stop looking at herself in the mirror lol.... but for all that are worried about this hype of it being cancerous etc... come on now there are worst that we breath, eat, and smell that we don't even know.... but if only we could read the actual ingredients in it then of course we'd freaked of it.. don't let one hype scare you all women should know that beauty is pain and there is a price to pay for it !!! Im not being bias as a cosmetologist myself, but i do nails i believe nail fumes are the worst.... so go for it

  • May 25, 2011

    by Jaime

    My wife was a stylist for 15 years. In August of 2010 she relocated to a salon that did the Brazilian Blowouts. It caused her great discomfort whenever one of the co-workers used the product and she researched it and found that the product released the formaldehyde when heated with a flat iron. She tried to discourage the use of the product in the salon but was not able to convince the other stylist.

    In Jan of 2011 she went to the doctor because of serious back ache and in Feb, after having an MRI, she was subsequently diagnosed with non-smokers lung cancer and passed away in April. She was only 35 years old. Watching your love one go from healthy and vibrant to being on oxygen and not being able to breathe, and then pass away, all in less than three months is an awful thing to have to go through...but if was much worse on her. She was in constant excruciating pain and spent almost half of those last 3 months in a hospital bed.

    I would strongly encourage everyone (stylist and customers) to rethink the use of this and similar product. To the stylists...please ask yourself if the extra money you make on the application of these products is really worth the risk.

    Please don't let my wife's passing be in vain. Don't put your family through the pain that ours has had to endure.

  • May 25, 2011

    by Marcy

    I had a Brazillian blowout a few days ago and I wish I had done it sooner. My sister is going back for her 3rd one. She has had one every 4 months. She is allergic to everything, but has had no problems with this. Sometimes I wonder if the "keratin" people are behind all of this.

  • May 20, 2011

    by Lisa

    I've had two Brazilian Blowouts in the past 11 months and have not had any problems. If your eyes burn when applying, your stylist is using too much of the product. My hair goes to the middle of my back and only 4 capfuls were used. I've heard as many as 10 capfuls were applied, which is way too much. A little goes a long way. I love it and will do it again.

  • May 20, 2011

    by Wendy

    As a stylist who performs these treatments weekly, I am very aware of the hazards and concerns. For one, most stylist are using way too much of the product which causes the higher risk of toxins. If done properly, the amount of formaldehyde released into the air is well under the legal limits. You are basically exposed to more than that on an average day. Also, Mel I am sorry about your flakey scalp but it was NEVER meant to be used On the scalp. Unfortunately the stylist who performed your service was not educated and did it incorrectly

  • May 16, 2011

    by Mel

    I agree do not do this to your hair. Two days after the treatment, my scalp started flaking horribly. Flakes the size of quarters invaded my scalp for weeks. The more I rubbed my scalp the more they came out. I never had flakes before this treatment and it was very humiliating to go out in public. I couldn't enjoy having straight hair because I had to have it up to hid the reaction it caused. Now, after the treatment has worn off my hair looks more dull and lifeless than ever. Please don't ruin your hair or scalp- just flat iron if you have to. So not worth the money too.

  • May 9, 2011

    by Jaysie

    If all skin and hair treatments were intended primarily for men, there would be stricter regulations for ingredient labeling and certification of what is in a bottle. Minoxidil is a good example.

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