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
Happy Friday! Big news: Scientific groups representing more than 40,000 researchers and clinicians have come together in the pages of the super-influential journal Science to insist that federal regulators do more—and do more, more quickly—to assess the human safety of the 12,000 new substances registered every day at the American Chemical Society.
“The need for swifter and sounder testing and review procedures cannot be overstated,” the letter says.
The letter’s corresponding author Patricia Hunt, a professor in the Washington State University School of Molecular Biosciences, said:
“As things stand now,” she added, “things get rapidly into the marketplace and the testing of them is tending to lag behind.”
Hunt told ScienceDaily that the letter was inspired by growing concerns about BPA, which more than 300 studies have found to cause adverse health effects in animals. Hormone disruptors more broadly, were also of concern. She says:
“Hormones control everything—our basic metabolism, our reproduction. We call them endocrine disruptors. They’re like endocrine bombs to a certain extent because they can disrupt all these normal functions.”
Boom. She also said one of the problems is that the methods used to assess safety—primarily toxicology—are insufficient. “The FDA and EPA need to look beyond the toxicology of substances to the other ways chemicals can affect us. … One of the problems they have is they look at some of the science and don’t know how to interpret it because it’s not done using the traditional toxicology testing paradigm,” she said. “We need geneticists, we need developmental and reproductive biologists and we need the clinical people on board to actually help interpret and evaluate some of the science.”
I think this qualifies as a sign that things are changing, no?
Dentists are getting in on the Botox market. Why? Because they are experts of the “musculature and anatomy of the face” and, says one dentist, “no other doctor can give an injection better than a qualified and experienced dentist.”
Now, that very well may be true, and there’s no reason to suppose dentists are any less good than dermatologists at sticking needles in people’s faces. But how widespread is it? Not very—yet.
Dentists have been using Botox to treat dental problems … and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved its use for treatment of chronic migraines. Some dentists want to take it a step further and use it for aesthetic purposes, too. In Minnesota, dentists are permitted to do the work, as long as they adhere to the same standard of care that specialists are required to meet… However, some states, including California and Nevada, say the use of Botox to improve patients’ smiles or to reduce wrinkles is outside the scope of general dentistry.
Is teeth bleaching outside the scope, though? And those caps people put on top of their teeth to make them look perfect and symmetrical? I’m not sure the issue here is dentists doing Botox—many different kinds of medical professionals use their training to perform cosmetic procedures. But it seems to speak to something a little larger that concerns me. Specifically, the increasingly breezy attitude we (/people?) have about injecting stuff into their faces—especially if that stuff comes with a black box warning from the FDA.
What do you think?
Sometimes, we forget to go back to the ABCs of what we’re doing here. Come to think of it, a lot of the time. I guess we assume that most of you reading this blog already know a few things about the chemicals in beauty products, and the lack of laws regulating them. And though this piece in today’s Huffington Post has a few factual errors, I’m going to take as another sign of the clean beauty revolution, thankyouverymuch. And it made us think it may be time for a refresher!
A. So, did you know that the cosmetics industry is self-policed, and that the FDA pretty much washes its hands of anything claiming to be a cosmetic, just as long as there’s an ingredient list on the bottle? That there’s no pre-market testing done by them, or any third body, and there’s no real requirement for companies to prove that their products are safe? Of course, they swear that they can. And they’re supposed to be able to. (But they can’t, and they’re never asked to anyways.)
B. Are you aware that the fragrance industry is protected under trade secret laws—laws that don’t require them to list any of the ingredients used in their formulations? They say that this is necessary bulwark against their formulations being ripped off, but really it’s no more than a deterrent that allows them to put whatever they want into fragrance. Anyone looking to copy a scent can take it to the lab to get the ingredients list, and as we’ve said in the past: Just because you know what’s in the Caramilk bar, doesn’t mean you can duplicate it. Consumer safety should supercede this so-called business protection.
C. Did you also know that Europe has banned over a thousand chemicals—the Huffington Post article mistakenly wrote 11,000, but that’s actually the total number of ingredients listed for use in cosmetics—while on this side of the pond we’ve only banned nine. Nine!
These are just some of the early facts that got us riled enough to write a book about this subject. And while we’re obviously clean beauty evangelists, the part that irks us the most is that information about product ingredients isn’t readily available to consumers. We don’t think everyone has to be perfectly clean—in fact we’re not (I still haven’t given up waterproof mascara)—we just think that they we should all have the information to make the right decisions for ourselves.
Is this old news to you? And what makes you the most mad about how the beauty business is operated?
Sorry, I couldn’t resist this image
A couple of weeks ago we asked you what your fountain of youth was. I made the maybe-annoying (but totally sincere!) point that for me it’s all about smiling, exercise, diet, sleep, sex and…argan oil. In other words, I don’t put much stock in products that claim to be anti-agers, because I understand the science of how our skin changes as we get older, and because I know women of all ages with lines and freckles and whatnot who absolutely embody grace and beauty—and their husbands and boyfriends and girlfriends think so too.
But we still like to keep tabs on what’s going on in the anti-aging market, and as it turns out, so does the FDA. Say what?
From Beauty Schooled:
Over 80 companies — including big girl brands like L’Oreal, Avon and Revlon! — are on a special FDA watch list because the agency believes they may be importing, manufacturing or shipping skin care creams that make “drug claims,” like that said skin cream can alter the structure or function of your body (cellulite and wrinkle erasers, anyone?) or treat or prevent disease. This is a violation of pretty much the only cosmetics law we have in this country. And the beauty industry can’t even follow that one.
We talk a little in the book about confusing “cosmeceuticals”—this is a made up marketing term that means nothing but implies a lot. Specifically: a performance that could be almost drug-like, and the sense that it may be doctor-recommended, probably because so many of these lines are actually by doctors. These are essentially products that make drug-like claims, but are regulated (which is to say, are not really regulated at all) as cosmetics.
By definition, cosmetics are supposed to be, well, cosmetic. According to the FDA, cosmetics are defined by their intended use, as “articles intended to be rubbed, poured, sprinkled, or sprayed on, introduced into, or otherwise applied to the human body…for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness, or altering the appearance.”
If it were true that all cosmetics do is alter appearance and “promote attractiveness” (LOL), then we wouldn’t have had a book to write. We’d also have really dirty clothes, because that would mean our skin is impermeable and so everything we put on ourselves would just rub off onto anything else that touched it, which is obviously not what happens.
The bottom line is it’s simply not true that cosmetics behave in a way that is purely cosmetic. So shouldn’t some of them be treated like drugs? Yes, say many experts—even some conservative ones who probably disagree with almost everything else we say. Tthe FDA even has a section of its site devoted to the matter.
Through the trusty channels of skin absorption and inhalation, some—though not all—ingredients do make their way into our bodies, where all kinds of undesirable things can happen. So the problem, as we see it, is the way cosmetics are defined in the first place. The science has outpaced the definitions and the regulations, and based on what we now know about some ingredients—from the ones that promise to plump up our smile lines to the ones that promise nothing but can sneak into our bodies and mess with our hormones—it’s time for the FDA to hop out of its time machine and do something.