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Brazilian Blowout Safety Is Again Questioned

March 21, 2011

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - California women wanting to chemically straighten their hair may want to think twice before exposing themselves, and their hairdressers, to what could be dangerous levels of toxic chemicals. The cosmetics industry's safety review board has just concluded that products containing formaldehyde should not exceed 0.2 percent of that substance, for health and safety reasons.

Alexandra Scranton, director of science and research at Women's Voices for the Earth, says some hair straightening products commonly known as the Brazilian Blowout far exceed those levels, with some containing nearly 12 percent formaldehyde.

"It's a carcinogen; it causes cancer, and that's certainly a concern. In the short term it can be a very strong irritant; it can, you know, make your eyes water; it gives you headaches, can cause nosebleeds."

Regulators were first alerted to the toxicity of the products when hair stylists began reporting serious side effects. Now some California salons provide gas masks to their customers.

Scranton would like to see a nationwide recall of such products.

"We don't think they're safe. We think the fact that they're still on the market, that you can still get them done, gives an illusion of safety, but there's really a lack of regulation of these products and we think the FDA needs to step forward and get them taken off the shelves."

California's Attorney General is continuing with a lawsuit against the Brazilian Blowout company, which is based in Los Angeles and San Francisco. The suit accuses the company of not warning customers that the product contains the cancer-causing chemical.

More information is at www.womensvoices.org

Lori Abbott, Public News Service - CA