For years stylists have reported that the application of these hair treatments caused difficulty breathing, eye irritation and nosebleeds. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been aware of the health hazards associated with the products since at least 2008. Despite these dangers, the FDA has yet to take action to remove them from the market. It’s time.
In 2016, Women’s Voices for the Earth and EWG filed a lawsuit, charging that FDA has failed to adequately respond to the concerns raised about the health risks associated with formaldehyde in keratin hair products. The lawsuit was unfortunately dismissed.
And as recently as JUNE 15, 2021, WVE and our partners at EWG joined salon workers from across the nation to file another citizen’s petition with the FDA. We’re in this for the long haul! Harmful exposures salon workers experience in the workplace as a result of toxic formaldehyde in hair straightening products continues to be a problem for both workers and their clients. Its time formaldehyde was banned from these products for good. CLICK here to learn more.
Timeline of Actions
Within the last decade, Brazilian Blowout has been subject to everything from class-action lawsuits to international recalls. Yet, the FDA has done virtually nothing to protect consumers from the dangers of formaldehyde in hair straighteners. This timeline of actions illustrates the FDA’s failure to act and protect consumers and stylists from the carcinogen, formaldehyde.
– 12/13/2016: Women’s Voices for the Earth and Environmental Working Group file a lawsuit charging that FDA has failed to adequately respond to the concerns raised about the health risks associated with formaldehyde in keratin hair products. Read full complaint.
– 2015: Press release is issued, FDA Stalls While Stylists Remain at Risk for Formaldehyde Poisoning, yet the FDA does nothing. Meanwhile, over 20,000 concerned people sign an online petition urging the FDA to recall hair straighteners that contain formaldehyde.
– 11/2014: Women’s Voices for the Earth releases our first-of-its-kind report, Beauty and Its Beast that links long-term chemical exposure in salon to adverse health outcomes. The report features the dangers of formaldehyde poisoning and offers recommendations to help salon workers protect themselves from chemical exposure in the workplace. Complimenting the report release, WVE calls on its members to Take Action and ask the FDA to institute a voluntary recall of Brazilian Blowout products.
– 4/2013: (Yes over a year later) FDA responds to the company’s response letter. In the FDA’s 2013 letter, they state the company’s product continues to be mis-branded because the labeling is still misleading, despite some of the labeling changes Brazilian Blowout has made. The FDA also notes the risk to consumers and asks Brazilian Blowout to ensure their product is not being sold directly to consumers, only to professionals.
– 11/29/12: California Superior Court orders the current toxic formula of Brazilian Blowout off the market. The company has 30 days to test its new, reformulated product to ensure it meets CA air quality standards. Read more.
– 10/22/2012: California Attorney General’s office says Brazilian Blowout products violate California air quality law and must be removed from marketplace. According to the attorney general’s court papers, testing by three different laboratories shows that GIB’s hair straightening product violates California air quality law and emits smog-forming pollutants at levels higher than allowed by the California Air Resources Board. Read more.
– 1/30/2012: California Attorney General settles lawsuit against Brazilian Blowout. The company must cease deceptive advertising practices and put caution stickers on their products advising users that the product releases formaldehyde gas. Advocates call on the FDA to remove keratin hair straighteners from the market. Read more.
– 12/15/2011: OSHA launches new webpages dedicated to formaldehyde in hair straighteners
– 12/8/2011: OSHA issues press release stating that in 2011, 23 salon owners received citations with up to $17,500 in fines for formaldehyde overexposure to their workers.
– 9/2011: Brazilian Blowout responds to the FDA’s warning letter (response is not available to the public).
– 9/23/2011: The National Healthy Nail and Beauty Salon Alliance and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics sent a letter to the FDA thanking them for warning Brazilian Blowout, and requesting the agency make Brazilian Blowout’s response public. If the company does not respond, we urged the FDA to recall Brazilian Blowout products.
– 9/22/2011: OSHA issued an updated hazard alert on formaldehyde in straighteners and refutes Brazilian Blowout’s false claim that formaldehyde falls within safe limits.
– 8/2011: The FDA warned Brazilian Blowout their product is adulterated and misbranded. The FDA demanded immediate action from the company to remove ingredients that are harmful when used as directed and to brand the product correctly (the company claims Brazilian Blowout is formaldehyde-free when it clearly is not). Read the FDA’s letter.
– 8/2011: Brazilian Blowout executives sent a letter to salons claiming that the product is still safe and offering a new loyalty program. Read the full letter from Brazilian Blowout.
– 7/11: The cosmetics industry concluded that levels of formaldehyde in Brazilian Blowout are unsafe.
6/2011: Cosmetic Ingredient Review Panel (CIR), established by the cosmetic industry to review the safety of cosmetic ingredients, determined that the use of formaldehyde in hair straighteners is unsafe.
– 5/2011: Congressional leaders ask the FDA to protect the public from toxic hair straighteners. 10 members of Congress sent a letter to the FDA asking the agency to take immediate action to protect workers and consumers.
– 4/2011: Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a hazard alert warning stylists against the use of hair straighteners containing formaldehyde.
– 4/2011: The National Academy of Sciences released a report confirming that formaldehyde causes cancer in humans.
– 11/2010: The California Attorney General requested an injunction against Brazilian Blowout to require health warnings on their products, noting that levels of formaldehyde emitted by the smoothing solution exceed Proposition 65 safe exposure limits “by up to a factor of more than eight for salon workers.”
In addition, WVE and a coalition of environmental and health organizations calls on the U.S. FDA to take immediate action and issue a voluntary recall the Brazilian Blowout products in question.
– 11/2010: France has removed eight hair straighteners from the market.
– 10/2010: Canada has issued a public health advisory and is working with Canadian distributors to stop the distribution of the products.
– 10/2010: Ireland has issued a recall of the Brazilian Blowout Acai Professional Solution following their own test results.
– 9/29/2010: Oregon Health and Science University released lab results finding that the popular hair straightening treatment product Brazilian Blowout Solution contained 10% formaldehdye, a cancer-causing chemical, although the product was labeled “formaldehyde-free”.The Acai Professional Smoothing Solution, by the company Brazilian Blowout, contained 4.85% formaldehyde.The samples were taken in for testing after staff at a Portland salon reported difficulty breathing, nose bleeds and eye irritation when using the product as directed.