Are you one of those women who love getting their hair straightened using Brazilian blowout or some other technique at a hair salon? There is some bad news for you – it can be a health risk for you.


The US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued the following warning –

Federal OSHA and State OSHA programs are investigating complaints from stylists and hair salon owners about exposure to formaldehyde while using GIB LLC dba (doing business as) Brazilian Blowout products and other hair smoothing products. OSHA has found formaldehyde in the air when stylists use hair smoothing products. Some had “formaldehyde-free” on the label or did not list formaldehyde on the product label or in the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS).

During one investigation, Federal OSHA’s air tests showed formaldehyde at levels greater than OSHA’s limits in a salon using Brazilian Blowout Acai Professional Smoothing Solution, even though the product was labeled “formaldehyde-free.” In most cases, OSHA found that hair salon owners did not know that a hair smoothing product contained or could expose workers to formaldehyde because manufacturers, importers, and distributers did not include the correct warnings on product information. California OSHA recently found violations at one importer and distributor, GIB LLC dba Brazilian Blowout, that failed to list formaldehyde as a hazardous ingredient on the MSDS provided to downstream users (e.g., salon owners, stylists) for two products: Brazilian Blowout Acai Professional Smoothing Solution and Brazilian Blowout Professional Brazilian Blowout Solution. The MSDS also did not list the health effects from formaldehyde exposure. The MSDS is required to provide users information about the chemicals in a product, the hazards to workers, and how to use a product safely.


What can Salon owners do? (from here)

    * Install air ventilation systems in the areas where these products are mixed and used to help keep formaldehyde levels below OSHA’s limit and perform regular maintenance to make sure the systems work correctly;
    * When possible, require workers to use lower heat settings on blow-dryers and flat irons used during the process;
    * Give workers respirators, if needed; train them to use the respirator properly; and meet the other requirements in OSHA’s Respiratory protection standard;
    * Ensure workers understand the information on a product’s label and MSDS;
    * Post signs at entryways to any area where formaldehyde is above OSHA’s limit to tell workers of the danger and stating that only authorized personnel may enter;
    * Tell workers about the health effects of formaldehyde, how to use the product safely, and what personal protective equipment to wear while using the product; and
    * Train workers how to safely clean up spills and properly throw products out.

In addition, where the tests show that formaldehyde is present in the air at a level of 0.5 ppm during an 8-hour work shift or 2 ppm during any 15-minute period, then the employer must:

    * Get workers the right medical attention (e.g., doctor exams), and
    * Test the air periodically to make sure that formaldehyde levels are below OSHA’s limits.

Whether or not air tests show formaldehyde levels above OSHA’s limits, employers must follow certain parts of the standard if a product contains formaldehyde:

    * Give employees appropriate gloves and other personal protective equipment (e.g., face shield, chemical splash goggles, chemical-resistant aprons) and train them on how to use this equipment while mixing and applying the products;
    * Explain to workers how to read and understand the information on a product’s label and MSDS;
    * Make sure the workplace has eye and skin washing equipment if products that contain formaldehyde could be splashed onto the workers’ skin or into their eyes;
    * Train workers how to safely clean up spills and properly throw products out, and;
    * Get workers the right medical attention (e.g., doctor exams) if they develop signs and symptoms of an exposure to formaldehyde or are exposed to large amounts of formaldehyde during an emergency (e.g., a large spill).

Canada has already warned its citizens about Brazilian Blowout and similar straighteners six months ago and seems like FDA will have follow suit soon.


Canada warned its citizens about Brazilian Blowout and similar straighteners six months ago when regulators first learned about health concerns, and the products were pulled off store shelves. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) — which regulates cosmetics in the U.S. — hasn’t yet taken that step, though over the past several months it has begun looking into complaints about the products. An FDA spokesperson told TIME that the agency would have an update soon — we’ll update the post when that comes out.

The agency may need to act soon. A new report published on April 12 by the Environmental Working Group — a non-profit that has often been critical of the chemical and cosmetics industries — reviewed 47 unpublished “adverse event” reports filed with the FDA and obtained via the Freedom of Information Act. Salon clients and personnel reported severe allergic reactions, including hair loss, rashes, blistered scalps and other health problems.



I have my hair straightening appointment for next week, and I am a little scared now. What do you say?