The FDA calls out Brazilian Blowout for “false and misleading statements”

Brazilian Blowout Formaldehyde ControveryIt’s been a while since I wrote about the Brazilian Blowout controversy and there have been a few newsworthy updates recently! Luckily, the word has gotten out about the dangers of formaldehyde-laden smoothing treatments, so it’s not quite as shocking as it was late last year, but there are unfortunately still shady companies refusing to come clean. I don’t know how one could sleep at night knowingly sacrificing clients’ and technicians’ health to make a few (million) bucks, but–hey, that’s just me.

Here’s a letter sent out today from the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics with all the highlights. (The FDA’s letter to BB is definitely worth a click, in which they call out BB for “false and misleading statements” regarding formaldehyde/methylene glycol in the solution):

September 13, 2011

Dear Nadine,

The Brazilian Blowup continues! Remember when we first wrote to you in 2010 to let you know that Brazilian Blowout hair-straightening products were found to contain up to 12 percent cancer-causing formaldehyde – even those products that were labeled “formaldehyde-free?” Well, our persistence is starting to pay off and we need your help to keep up the pressure!

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has finally told the makers of the hair-straightening product Brazilian Blowout they need to clean up their act (a year after Canada and several other countries pulled these and similar products off the shelves).

In a letter to Brazilian Blowout dated August 22, 2011, the FDA noted that the products are “adulterated” and “misbranded.” This action follows thousands of letters to the FDA from Campaign for Safe Cosmetics supporters, 10 members of Congress, and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and allies regarding the safety of these products.

Brazilian Blowout had until yesterday, September 12, 2011, to respond to the FDA’s letter. We don’t have high expectations: the company has maintained that its products are perfectly safe even when OSHA and the cosmetics industry itself stated otherwise, and on August 24 posted an online letter to salons and stylists encouraging them to keep using its products, despite mounting concerns.

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is glad that FDA took this first step, and we hope to see further action right away. But for an entire year, and even right now as you read this, salon workers and customers have been exposed repeatedly to cancer-causing chemicals in Brazilian Blowout and other hair-straighteners.

The FDA can and should do more. Please help us keep up the pressure and ask the FDA to protect salon workers and customers from this unnecessary toxic exposure by issuing a voluntary recall! (Unfortunately, FDA doesn’t have the power to order a mandatory recall due to our outdated cosmetics laws.)

Clearly, the system is broken. In order to hold Brazilian Blowout and other cosmetics companies accountable and make sure laws are on the books that protect all of us from toxic chemicals in the products we use on our bodies we need your help. Can you chip in $10 today to make sure we can keep up this important work?

For safer products and smarter laws,

Stacy, Mia, Lisa, Marisa, Jamie, Janet and all of us at the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics

Meanwhile, despite Brazilian Blowout protesting that the original formula never reeeeally had formaldehyde in it anyway (it had methylene glycol, which is a liquid form of formaldehyde that converts back into formaldehyde when water is removed–e.g., when the solution-soaked hair is dried), just to cover their bases, they released Brazilian Blowout Zero earlier in the year. BB Zero promotes “0% Formaldehyde Released Before, During or After Treatment.” Not really sure why that distinction is necessary on this product, since haven’t you been claiming that’s the case all along with all your solutions, BB? Silly me. Anyhow, I Can Has Science breaks down Brazilian Blowout Zero’s ingredients while ICHS’s comments section seems to testify that it doesn’t work as well, probably because–surprise!–unlike the original, this one doesn’t have formaldehyde.

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  1. Cindy

    So are all keratin treatments bad? My stylist is trying to talk me into Coppola’s keratin treatment there, which the company claims contains a safer, gel-based aldehyde (vs cream-based–and therefore–more easily particulate upon evaporation) formula. Need to get rid of this poofy hair…help!

  2. Hi Cindy,
    I’m not going to say that all keratin treatments are bad, but I do think it’s important to do your homework and realize that you’re probably only going to get truly life-changing/hair-changing results with a formaldehyde-laden formula. There are several options that have come on the market recently that don’t have formaldehyde (or aldehydes, or methylene glycol), so health-wise, those are your best bet to be safe. Again, you probably won’t get the same sleek results, though, so it just depends on what’s more important to you. Let us know what you choose and how the results are!