More Air Testing Confirms Hazardous Levels of Formaldehyde in the Air During Hair Straightening Procedures--So Now What?

Are you confused about all the recent hair straightening drama? Well, things aren't really going to be crystal clear yet after this latest news. Another US federal agency just officially weighed in. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) conducted air testing in salons that use the Brazilian Blowout Acai Professional Smoothing Solution and Brasil Cacau Cadiveu, and found "hazardous levels" of formaldehyde, according to WWD. This comes a month after the FDA wrote a threatening letter to the Brazilian Blowout company that if they don't reduce the amount of formaldehyde in the products and label the packaging more clearly, that the product would be seized.
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Are you confused about all the recent hair straightening drama? Well, things aren't really going to be crystal clear yet after this latest news. Another US federal agency just officially weighed in. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) conducted air testing in salons that use the Brazilian Blowout Acai Professional Smoothing Solution and Brasil Cacau Cadiveu, and found "hazardous levels" of formaldehyde, according to WWD. This comes a month after the FDA wrote a threatening letter to the Brazilian Blowout company that if they don't reduce the amount of formaldehyde in the products and label the packaging more clearly, that the product would be seized.
Photo: AP

Photo: AP

Are you confused about all the recent hair straightening drama? Well, things aren't really going to be crystal clear yet after this latest news. Another US federal agency just officially weighed in.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) conducted air testing in salons that use the Brazilian Blowout Acai Professional Smoothing Solution and Brasil Cacau Cadiveu, and found "hazardous levels" of formaldehyde, according to WWD. This comes a month after the FDA wrote a threatening letter to the Brazilian Blowout company that if they don't reduce the amount of formaldehyde in the products and label the packaging more clearly, the product would be seized.

Once again, the Brazilian Blowout company is pushing back, saying these latest air testing reports are in direct contradiction to previous OSHA reports that state formaldehyde levels were in acceptable ranges. The company changed manufacturers in Brazil, but isn't reformulating its products at all. Brazilian Blowout's CEO also gave this sort of cryptic remark to WWD: "We are in direct contact with [the FDA]. Some, not all, are labeling issues. That is an easy resolution. I have no issues with FDA." Wha?

To make things even more confusing, the Cosmetic Ingredient Review posted a report earlier this week that stated hair-smoothing products "are unsafe in the present practices of use...exposure to formaldehyde could be minimized with proper procedures and use of personal ventilation devices."

And now hair straightening manufacturers have formed their own group, called the Professional Keratin Smoothing Council, whose mission (ostensibly) to improve safety.

So what exactly is the bottom line here?

1) It's now well-documented that hair straightening procedures like the Brazilian Blowout produce hazardous fumes. While formaldehyde is a known carcinogen, the long term effects for customers and stylists isn't really known. The procedure simply hasn't been used long enough for people to start developing diseases that can show an epidemiological pattern.

2) The federal government--via OSHA and the FDA--is being sort of wishy-washy about the whole thing. Lots of reports and threats, but not a lot of action. Are there too many cooks in the kitchen?

3) We've said this before, but the salons themselves are going to be the prime movers in this. And do they really want to lose that huge revenue stream? The industry is starting to release formaldehyde-free versions of the procedure, but the results don't last as long.

What's the answer? Writing more reports probably isn't it.