For those new to the site, one of our kind-of claims to fame is for being early to sound the alarm, if you will, on the dangers of the Brazilian Blowout. Our book opens with a scene of us sitting in a fancy West Hollywood salon, choking on the formaldehyde fumes of this now infamous hair treatment. It marked the beginning of our journey into clean beauty—without the BB, there would be no book and no site.
Behind closed doors, we were later told that the negative attention brought upon the blowout, by us and other clean-beauty and public health advocates, helped serve as a catalyst for the lawsuit thrown down by California’s Attorney General back in November 2010. California has this nifty law called Prop 65 that stipulates products that contain carcinogens must feature a warning label on it. And now it’s been enforced for the first time.
Because not only was Brazilian Blowout not warning consumers and salon workers about the high levels of formaldehyde—as much as 10% according to some lab tests—in their treatment, they were also claiming some versions of the product were formaldehyde free. We’ve covered the story extensively and posted the original filing here. A few days ago the saga reached its conclusion. For now.
In a settlement, GIB, LLC, the company that makes Brazilian Blowout, must stop its deceptive advertising and pay $600,000 in fees, penalties and costs. Remember, though, as Virginia at Beauty Schooled points out: This applies to one brand and one brand only for now. There are countless other companies also making similar Brazilian blowout (lower-case b) formulas, and this doesn’t yank the procedure or the products from salons, either. It just slaps it with a CAUTION label.
Is it enough? No, but it’s something.
For those interested we’ve listed the settlement requirements below.
Requirements as listed by a Department of Justice press release:
- Produce a complete and accurate safety information sheet on the two products that includes a Proposition 65 cancer warning; distribute this information to recent product purchasers who may still have product on hand; and distribute it with all future product shipments. The revised safety information sheet — known as a “Material Safety Data Sheet,” or MSDS — will be posted on the company’s web site.
- Affix “CAUTION” stickers to the bottles of the two products to inform stylists of the emission of formaldehyde gas and the need for precautionary measures, including adequate ventilation.
- Cease deceptive advertising of the products as formaldehyde-free and safe; engage in substantial corrective advertising, including honest communications to sales staff regarding product risks; and change numerous aspects of Brazilian Blowout’s web site content.
- Retest the two products for total smog-forming chemicals (volatile organic compounds) at two Department of Justice-approved laboratories, and work with DOJ and the Air Resources Board to ensure that those products comply with state air quality regulations.
- Report the presence of formaldehyde in its products to the Safe Cosmetics Program at the Department of Public Health.
- Disclose refund policies to consumers before the products are purchased.
- Require proof of professional licensing before selling “salon use only” products to stylists.
To this day we still get letters and comments on old posts about women who have lost their hair, damaged their scalps or suffered in some way from the Brazilian blowout. Have you done it? Please continue to share your experiences. This this is far from over.
We know we’ve covered the Brazilian Blowout ad nauseam, but bear with us: It feels important to keep a catalogue here of the most important news related to the ongoing controversy. Also, and just by coincidence, we got this comment from a salon worker this morning:
“I am so happy you are continuing on the horrors of these products…They are preforming this treatment all over South Florida with zero reguard for the toxicity…I have been a hairdresser for 24 years and have never seen anything this bad….please keep fighting…I am fighting on the state level!!!!!”
So with that in mind, here’s the latest on the Brazilian Blowout: The Wall Street Journal has published an excellent piece summarizing what has happened thus far and the latest developments. We already posted about the California’s impending injunction, but now members of Congress Jan Schakowsky (D., Ill.) and Ed Markey (D., Mass.) have sent a letter to the FDA asking them to move on this. From the piece:
“These dangerous products are still available and used on a daily basis in salons across the United States,” the representatives wrote to the FDA. The lawmakers want the FDA to test chemical hair straighteners and recall those with high levels of formaldehyde.
Shocker, the FDA says it needs more time—they don’t like being rushed to act. And Mike Brady, chief executive of Brazilian Blowout, is claiming that the letter is “not based on any fact. It’s just based on emotion.” Really, dude? The old you’re-being-emotional line that so many women have been told by men at some point in their lives? That kind of mysogeny-laced language makes me want to barf in my mouth slash it’s the exact same thing the super-mean (and physically intimidating) BB hairdresser pulled on me when I called into question the treatment he’d given me. Which of course made me cry and feel like a total ass.
At a Congressional staff briefing taking place today, salon workers are going to be describing some of the adverse health effects they’ve experienced on account of working with the Brazilian Blowout. We only did it once and felt pretty wacked out, so we can imagine what these workers will have to report. And speaking of complaints, if you haven’t checked out the EWG’s report yet you should: They collected page up page of complaint filed with the FDA. But, you know, they need more time.
Here’s a question for you all: Do you think the FDA should test and recall these treatments, or is up to consumers and salon workers to make the choice for themselves?
Image via the WSJ article
The team over at Mother Nature Network are asking if 2010 will be remembered as the year of living safely. It’s a good question. It certainly seems that way to us. Here’ssome big reasons why.
—Our book came out (cough!)
—The Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010 was introduced
—The Story of Stuff video came out
—BPA panic (and news coverage) exploded
—Canada deemed the stuff toxic
—Parabens were back in the hot seat
—The California Attorney General is suing over the Brazilian blowout
—And there’s an insane increase in the amount of greenwashing about toxics in personal care products—which is a great measuring stick for increased consumer awareness and concern.
So we ask you, smartypants readers. When did you first start thinking about the toxins you put on yourself every day? What was your a ha moment? Where did you learn about it?
Concern about the Brazilian blowout has reached the Attorney General’s office in the state of California, which just today registered a formal complaint in the courts about it.