Calif. sues Brazilian Blowout over health concerns

November 10, 2010 8:19:10 PM PST
The California attorney general is suing the company that makes the popular hair straightening product, Brazilian Blowout. The suit accuses the company of not warning customers that the product contains formaldehyde, a cancer-causing chemical.

The hair straightening product is a popular request at salons and very profitable at close to $300 a treatment, which is why word that it could pose a health hazard has salons nervous.

"It smoothes out the frizz in the hair and makes the hair really shiny," stylist Christine Chavez said.

Chavez uses the Brazilian Blowout hair straightening solution on her clients at least three times a day and has never had a problem with fumes from the formaldehyde in it. In fact, she considers it one of the safest products in the salon.

"There are bleaches that we use, the bleaches are a lot more harmful, things that go on the scalp, things that have to be processed, I feel are a lot more irritation with color than with this," she said.

A lawsuit filed Wednesday claims the hair smoothing treatment solution releases high levels of formaldehyde gas, even though the company claims it is safe and free of chemicals.

There are no warning labels on the product or instructions on how to protect those that might come in contact with the formaldehyde gas. Some salons across the country are already providing customers with gas masks as a precaution.

"Acute symptoms can include irritation, nose bleed, headache, but more chronic exposure can lead to cancer -- this is a known human carcinogen," Environmental Working Group spokesperson Rebecca Sutton said.

Oregon filed a similar suit against the company last month after air monitoring tests at salons indicated high level of formaldehyde in the air when the product was used. But Oregon OSHA reversed that finding when another round of tests showed gas levels were actually below state standards.

Brazilian Blowout CEO Mike Brady released a statement Wednesday claiming the product's safety and the company has filed suit against Oregon OSHA for manipulating tests results.

Salon owner Grant Phillips says the Brazilian Blowout has been providing customers with information on the controversy on the company website. His clients love the product and believe it to be safe.

"We still give some perm or relaxers, you can still have quite a scent or fragrance from that, and the Brazilian, you don't even know it is going on," he said.

The company will have 30 days to file a response to the new lawsuit.


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