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Brazilian Blowout Formaldehyde Warning Issued in Canada

Oct 11, 2010 | Parker Waichman LLP

Canadian regulators are warning about formaldehyde in the popular Brazilian Blowout Solution hair styling treatment. The alert from Health Canada comes just days after a similar warning was issued in Oregon.

The Brazilian Blowout is a pricey salon treatment touted as being “all natural” that promises to leave hair “frizz-free, shiny, effortlessly manageable and with plenty of body and bounce.” Results are said to last up to 12 weeks. According to its Website, the Brazilian Blowout “smoothes the hair through the use of a proprietary polymer system that bonds amino acids to the surface of the hair.” The site claims that the treatment is “100% salon safe.”

In its alert issued last Thursday, Health Canada said it has received complaints of burning eyes, nose, and throat, breathing difficulties, and one report of hair loss associated with use of Brazilian Blowout Solution. The agency’s own testing found that the Brazilian Blowout Solution contains 12 percent formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is permitted in cosmetics at less than 0.2 percent when used as a preservative.

Formaldehyde is a known irritant, sensitizer, and is linked to cancer in humans when inhaled chronically over a long period of time. Health Canada said it believes that the reactions are being caused by formaldehyde becoming aerosolized during the blow drying and flat ironing stages of the treatment. The agency pointed out that any procedure containing formaldehyde above the allowable limits places clients and stylists at increased risk.

Health Canada is advising stylists who use Brazilian Blowout treatments to immediately stop using the affected product. Consumers who have had adverse reactions to Brazilian Blowout treatments are advised to seek medical attention. The agency also said it is working with the product’s exclusive Canadian distributor to address concerns regarding Brazilian Blowout Solution and to stop distribution of this product to salons in Canada.

Health Canada’s warning is similar to one issued earlier this month in the US by the Oregon Occupation Heath and Safety Administration (OSHA). Oregon OSHA, together with the Oregon Health and Science University’s Center for Research on Occupational and Environmental Toxicology, tested some of the Brazilian Blowout products after workers at one Oregon salon complained that they had suffered eye irritation, nose bleeds and difficulty breathing after they used the treatments. Two formulations of the product contained 4.85 percent to 10.6 percent formaldehyde. Additional laboratory analysis also detected four additional chemicals in each sample that were not quantified in the lab, including methanol and ethanol.

An official with Oregon OSHA told the ABC program Good Morning America that until salons can confirm that hair care products contain no formaldehyde, they should stop using them or use them in accordance with the formaldehyde standards, which recommends the use of masks, goggles and even respirators.

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