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The FDA and Brazilian Blowout

Formaldehyde in hair straighteners is a glaring example of how the laws overseeing the cosmetics industry fail to protect salon workers and consumers from hazardous chemicals in cosmetics products.

Since 2007, scientists and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have known that Brazilian Blowout hair products contain dangerously high levels of formaldehyde (even though labeled "formaldehyde free"), resulting in scores of injuries and exposing countless people to a chemical that increases their risk of getting cancer.

Examples of the harm caused by Brazilian Blowout include: sore throat, dizziness, difficulty breathing, hair loss, blisters, bloody nose, rashes, itching, welting, vomiting, chest pain, and burning in the eyes, throat and lungs.

Yet the product is still on the market, despite alerts from OSHA, a handful of U.S. states and health advocacy groups. And Brazilian Blowout is only one of many similar hair straighteners that contain formaldehyde. This scandal is a perfect example of why we need stronger oversight of the cosmetic industry.

In response, 10 members of Congress wrote a letter to the FDA in May 2011 expressing their deep concern regarding formaldehyde-containing hair-straighteners and asking the agency to take immediate action to protect workers and consumers.

Finally, in August 2011 the FDA sent a warning letter to Brazilian Blowout, years after concerns about the products first came to light. It's a great start but doesn't go far enough to protect salon workers and consumers. In September 2011, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and the National Healthy Nail and Beauty Salon Alliance sent a letter to the FDA asking for more: a public accounting of Brazilian Blowout's response to the FDA warning, a voluntary recall and an investigation of other similar hair-straightening products on the market.

Take Action

Ask the FDA to to more: issue a voluntary recall of Brazilian Blowout

More Information

Press Release: Congressional Leaders to FDA: Protect Public from Toxic Hair Treatments (May 10, 2011)

Brazilian Blowout: A Case Study in Failed Cosmetics Regulation (PDF)

Report: Flat-Out Risky (Environmental Working Group, April 2011)

Press Release: Beauty Salon Workers in Danger: Toxic Brazilian Blowout (April 12, 2011)

Press Release: Toxic Brazilian Blowout Too Dangerous to Be Used in U.S., Experts Say (Nov. 9, 2010)