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Brazilian Blowout blowup

By Sandy Bauers, Inquirer GreenSpace Columnist

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The quest for beauty is often fraught with compromises. There’s lead in some lipsticks. And how many of our cosmetics are tested on animals?

The latest controversy is over a popular hair treatment called the Brazilian blowout, which is a professional smoothing treatment that eliminates frizz. The manufacturer claims, “No Damage! and No harsh chemicals! CONTAINS NO FORMALDEHYDE!!”

Yet a coalition of public health and safety nonprofits, including Women’s Voice for the Earth and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and the National Healthy Nail Salon Alliance, today asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to recall the Brazilian Blowout Solution and the Acai Professional Smoothing Solution.

The groups cited recent lab tests by the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration that found formaldehyde levels as high as 10.8 percent in the Brazilian Blowout Solution and 11.8 percent in the Brazilian Blowout Acai Professional Smoothing Solution. Formaldehyde is an allergen and a carcinogen, and some salon owners have said they were sickened by the fumes.

“Complaints from salon workers and customers are flooding in, this product is harming people and yet the FDA continues to sit on its hands,” said Erin Switalski, executive director of Women’s Voices for the Earth, in a prepared statement. “It’s appalling that you can still go into some salons and get a Brazilian Blowout treatment, no questions asked. The FDA needs to remember that it’s their job to prevent and act upon harmful cosmetics.”

According to the groups, Canada has issued a public health warning and stopped distribution of the products, and Ireland has issued a recall.

The company, Brazilian Blowout, said however has disputed the findings and issued a formal statement on its website. It says the tests showed formaldehyde levels are safe. All its statements on the matter can be viewed here.

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