Director of Programs
Recently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent a warning letter to the makers of GK Hair Taming System with Juvexin Curly and Juvexin Resistant alerting the company that the products are misbranded and adulterated. In FDA parlance adulterated means a product contains a harmful substance that can harm the user with normal use of the product. In this case, the FDA considers GK Hair Taming System to be adulterated because it contains methylene glycol (liquid formaldehyde) between 3.9-4.85% which is released when the product is applied using heat. The agency finds the products to be misbranded (labeling that is false and misleading) because the warnings on the product are inadequate to protect the user from formaldehyde exposure.
The fact that formaldehyde is found in professional hair straighteners like GK isn’t news (see my previous blogs on the subject here and here). In fact, as far back as 2011 the FDA has known that keratin hair straightening products can release dangerous levels of formaldehyde putting stylists (and their client’s) health at risk. Women’s Voices has been calling on the FDA for almost five years to prohibit the use of formaldehyde in hair straighteners. And for the most part the agency has done virtually nothing.
While it’s a good thing the FDA has issued this most recent warning letter, the question is what real impact will it have? The agency issued a similar letter to the makers of Brazilian Blowout in 2011 and the Brazilian Blowout Original formula STILL contains formaldehyde (the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) formaldehyde in the product between 3-7%)—just as high as what was found in GK Hair Taming Systems.
This most recent warning letter is evidence that formaldehyde in hair straighteners continues to be a problem. But warning letters are clearly not doing enough to protect salon workers from harmful exposure to formaldehyde. Europe has banned many hair straighteners (including the GK Curly and Resistant formulations) because of the health risks of formaldehyde in the products. It’s time the FDA does the same.
You can help by telling the FDA it’s time to action!