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Brazilian Blowouts Are Dangerous to Your Health

By HERWriter
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flat iron Photo: Getty Images

Women with frizzy curly hair who are considering using a Brazilian Blowout--listen up. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released an alert, posted April 11, 2011 on their website, that they are investigating reports of severe health hazards as a result of formaldehyde exposure coming from the hair straightening treatment.

Formaldehyde has long been known to be a dangerous chemical and was “labeled a human carcinogen” most recently by a National Academy of Sciences panel.

“Formaldehyde-based hair straighteners present a particular danger to salon workers who apply blow driers and 450-degree flatirons to chemical-coated hair,” an Environmental Working Group (EWG) investigation said. Because of these health dangers, hair straightening products using formaldehyde have been banned in Australia, Ireland, Canada, France, Germany and Cyprus.

Over the past two years, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has received 47 complaints of adverse reactions reported by salon workers and clients who received Brazilian Blowout treatments. The EWG, a voluntary organization dedicated to bringing out information to protect the public’s health, reviewed the complaints and has stepped up to take action.

The EWG reported on their website that women experienced symptoms such as difficulty breathing, nausea and vomiting, allergic reactions, blisters developing on the scalp, hair loss and ulcers in the mouth. Despite these complaints, the FDA still has not put out firm warnings to limit the product’s use and continues to take a “wait and see” approach. The EWG also believes that the actual incidence of side effects is far greater since reporting to the FDA is voluntary.

Some salon owners claimed they have not used formaldehyde-based solutions, but in reality, they were just passing along erroneous information told to them by the manufacturer. The EWG found that 15 out of 16 manufacturers who claimed their products had little to no formaldehyde actually had substantial amounts of formaldehyde, up to 11.8 percent. See www.ewg.org/hair-straighteners/our-report/hair-straighteners-that-hide-formaldehyde/ to learn about which brands tested positive.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.