Still waiting on FDA to do something about Brazilian Blowout

I was glad to see the Wall Street Journal story about the dangers of Brazilian Blowout hair treatments.  The article did a good job describing the health concerns with this product, but left out an important part of the story: Where’s FDA? The story of Brazilian Blowout is the perfect illustration of FDA’s failure to protect the public from dangerous products.

Here’s the Letter to the Editor I wrote to Wall Street Journal (which they have not yet seen fit to print) laying out the concerns that are piled up so high that even cynical me is shocked that FDA has failed to act.

Dear Editor:

Thanks to Anjali Athavaley for her story about the concerns with keratin hair treatments (Taming of the Curl, March 23). The situation with Brazilian Blowout illustrates the need for regulatory reform in the US.  These products have been pulled from the shelves in Canada, France and Ireland; health warnings have been issued by Oregon OSHA and Connecticut Department of Health; and the California Attorney General has filed a lawsuit against the company. The Cosmetics Ingredient Review Panel has said the levels of formaldehyde and methylene glycol in these products cannot be verified as safe, and even the Personal Care Products Council is asking FDA to intervene.

Yet FDA has taken no action and Brazilian Blowout treatments are still being used in salons across America, still exposing women and salon workers to a known carcinogen. It’s time to reform the 70-year-old cosmetics regulations in the US and give FDA the authority and resources to keep unsafe products off the market.

Thank you,
Stacy Malkan

Update: In September 2011 — a full year after Canada banned the products — US FDA finally issued a warning letter to Brazilian Blowout. But the agency has taken no action to actually protect consumers, and formaldehyde hair straighteners are still being applied to the heads of women across America.

3 Responses to “Still waiting on FDA to do something about Brazilian Blowout”

  1. Lori Popkewitz Alper Says:

    I have been wondering the same thing-where is the FDA? Every time a friend tells me about their Brazilian Blowout I cringe. Why is the US the last to jump on board? Your letter is perfect. Thanks for representing thousands of women who are potentially harmed by this treatment.

  2. Jordana Lorraine Says:

    What about the thousands of women who have used and loved this treatment with no trouble at all? Some stylists are using it wrong, and some salons owners are allowing stylists who never took the class, to offer the service! (including the one who made the original complaint in Oregon)

    It shouldn’t be about banning a product, but about better education on how to use it safely. In my studio, I use a 3-tier air filtration system designed specifically for these chemicals, to keep my clients, my associate and myself safe.

  3. Stacy Malkan Says:

    The problem is that formaldehyde is a known carcinogen, and problems caused by exposure may not show up for a long time. The other problem is that a subset of the population (amounting to millions of people) are allergic to formaldehyde, and some of them have severe reactions to even small doses. I agree with you that better education and proper air filtration systems are important, however, they are not enough to protect people from this particular product. My colleagues at Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and I think it is absolutely appropriate to ban formaldehyde containing hair straightening products, as several countries have already done.

    Update: I heard from FDA today that they are continuing to investigate the safety of Brazilian Blowout and will let us know when they have findings to share. I am glad to know they are on it, but come on FDA, it took Health Canada two weeks to release their test results and pull Brazilian Blowout from the market, and we are now going on close to six months.

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