The first time I ever heard of the Brazilian Blowout I was in cosmetology school. The concept sounded so amazing – reduce your frizz and tame your curls for months after one treatment! The price was exorbitant but as a curly, frizzy haired girl myself, I understood the high demand.
But the glamour wore off. Months later, while working in a salon, when I or my coworkers would be doing a Brazilian Blowout on a client I would get nauseous and dizzy. Other symptoms started to appear, like rashes, headaches, a sore throat, and watering eyes. It was hard to breathe.
After months of doctor visits I was finally diagnosed with formaldehyde poisoning.
I broke down in tears. I was so angry, upset, and frustrated – that the Brazilian Blowout company had been lying, that this toxic chemical was in their product, and that I’d been exposed to it without my knowledge or consent.
Since then, I have developed severe chemical sensitivities, commonly known as “MCS.” Small amounts of toxic synthetic chemicals, especially fragrance, in common products make me incredibly sick with symptoms ranging from breathing problems, dizziness, nausea, headaches, fatigue, chest pains, rashes and memory problems. Sometimes I have to wear a mask on public transportation to protect myself from the perfume, cologne, fabric softener, air fresheners and other products around me. Since my chemical poisoning I have never really felt completely well again and have also developed many allergies and intolerances, particularly to food. My life is drastically different today and everything I consume, purchase or engage in must be carefully thought out.
As a stylist in NYC, it’s really difficult to find a salon to work at that does not use these Brazilian and Keratin products. So now I work as a freelance hair stylist primarily doing hair for photo shoots so that I have control of the products I use and am not exposed to dangerous smoothing treatments at the salons.
That’s not the only place I’m taking control. I’m raising my voice to toxic hair straighteners off the market entirely.
Recently, thanks to Women’s Voices for the Earth, I had the opportunity to be a guest on the Doctor Oz Show to talk about the dangers of these keratin treatments. The ability to spread awareness via such a large platform and represent affected stylists is incredible. From lobbying in Washington, D.C. with WVE, blogging about my experiences, joining radio broadcasts with Politics Beauty and this recent experience of being on television, I hope to protect the health of other consumers and stylists so they are not affected by exposure to such toxic and harmful chemicals in the salon.
That’s why I’m proud to be part of the National Healthy Nail and Beauty Salon Alliance and Women’s Voices for the Earth: it’s such a positive influence, and I truly see us making a difference.