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Brazilian Blowout Beware

September 21, 2011

Once again, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. The “Brazilian Blowout” is a hair straightening treatment available at hundreds of salons and is wildly popular despite a price tag that can run up to $500.00. The Brazilian Blowout, and all keratin anti-frizz treatments, is under scrutiny by the government for containing significant amounts of the toxic chemical formaldehyde. The Hollywood based company insists its products contain no more than a trace amount of formaldehyde. Some manufacturers fail to list formaldehyde as an ingredient or list it as formalin or methylene glycol. Some even claim their products to be formaldehyde-free. The United States Food and Drug Administration reports that agency tests show the solutions used for this treatment contain up to 10% of liquid formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is most commonly known as an organic tissue preservative. It has been linked with leukemia and nose and mouth cancers are an occupational hazard of embalmers who inhale formaldehyde fumes. Red flags about this product went up last year when salon workers in Oregon reported breathing problems, eye irritation, and nosebleeds while using the product. The National Toxicology Program recently classified formaldehyde as a human carcinogen. Despite all this, there is no ban on these products and salons continue to offer the service-- often outdoors or in backrooms with wide open windows and clients wearing masks – because it is lucrative and many women choose denial in the interest of smooth, shiny hair. Don’t do it. Life is complicated enough and short enough as it is. Coincidentally, just as I am getting ready to post this, the New York Times publishes an article on this very topic which explains the process and is well worth a few minutes of reading time. There are many issues in our lives beyond our control, but preventing potential health problems due to hair styling isn’t one of them. Click to read New York Times Brazilian Blowout article here.

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