Brazilian Blowout Hair Straightener Linked to Illnesses: FDA

Federal health officials indicate that fumes from a popular hair-straightening product, known as Brazillian Blowout, apear to be making some salon workers and customers ill.

According to an FDA warning letter sent late last month to the manufacturer of the hair straightener, the product contains large amounts of chemicals that turn to formaldehyde when exposed to high heat, such as a hair dryer or hot flat iron. The FDA is refuting the company’s claim that its products are formaldehyde free.

A number of hair salon workers and customers have reportedly experienced eye irritation, blurred vision, headaches, fainting, chest pains, breathing difficulty and other problems from Brazilian Blowout hair straightener.

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In November, the National Healthy Nail and Beauty Salon Alliance sent a letter to the FDA (pdf) and a letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) (pdf), calling for a Brazilian Blowout recall to protect salon workers.

According to the FDA, Brazilian Blowout is 8.7% to 10.4% methylene glycol, which is the liquid form of formaldehyde. That formaldehyde is released into the air and breathed by salon workers and consumers during the two-and-a-half hour Brazilian Blowout hair straightening process. The FDA said it considers Brazilian Blowout to be a misbranded and adulterated product.

Testing performed last year by the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Oregon OSHA) came up with similar results.

Formaldehyde is a colorless gas used in a number of chemical products as a disinfectant, resins, plastics, textiles, car parts, adhesives and as an embalming agent. It is classified as a probable carcinogen by the EPA and is considered a known carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

Brazilian Blowout company officials called the letter a misunderstanding and claim that the formaldehyde released from their products are well within OSHA and FDA guidelines. The manufacturer has until September 12 to officially respond to the warning letter, or they could face enforcement action by the FDA which could include seizure of their products and a court order to stop them from doing business.


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