If this news is any indication, salons may soon require hazmat suits for its workers… That’s hyperbole, of course, but:
The Department of Labor has issued an official immediate safety warning about formaldehyde-containing hair-smoothing products like the Brazilian Blowout. This is big news—HUGE*—and speaks to how much things really are (slowly) changing when it comes to the wild west of chemicals used in cosmetics and cosmetic procedures.
Federal OSHA is recommending that salons that carry out the procedure follow the following guidelines:
- Give workers respirators
- Give employees appropriate gloves and other personal protective equipment (e.g., face shield, chemical splash goggles, chemical-resistant aprons)
- Post signs at entryways to any area where formaldehyde is above OSHA’s limit**
- Tell workers about the health effects of formaldehyde
Recent reports from Oregon OSHA, California OSHA, and now Federal OSHA should alert salon owners and stylists to look closely at the hair smoothing products they are using to see if they contain methylene glycol, formalin, methylene oxide, paraform, formic aldehyde, methanal, oxomethane, oxymethylene, or CAS Number 50-00-0. All of these are names for or treated as formaldehyde under OSHA’s Formaldehyde standard. Products containing them can expose workers to formaldehyde; employers who manufacture, import, distribute, or use the products must follow OSHA’s formaldehyde standard.
The Environmental Working Group also has a new report out called Flat Out Risky that is loaded with information we haven’t had a chance to sift through yet (we just wanted to get this information out to you!).
Also, note that the hazard warning cites new lab reports in which “formaldehyde-free” products proved to contain formaldehyde after all. So in case you were still wondering about whether or not you should do it, and whether or not that “greener” Brazilian blowout really is, consider this your answer!
*Big kisses to anyone who gets that reference.
** OSHA’s limit is 0.75 parts of formaldehyde per million parts (or ppm) of air during an 8-hour work shift or 2 ppm during any 15-minute period.
Quick recap: After receiving health complaints, OSHA tested solutions from many brands, including Brazilian Blowout, some of which were labeled formaldehyde-free. OSHA determined that they contained dangerous levels of formaldehyde. OSHA said so, publicly. Brazilian Blowout sued them for spreading false and misleading information. And the nature of the tests conducted were called into question.
From Oregon Live:
[OSHA] tested 105 samples of hair smoothers from 54 salons, finding significant formaldehyde levels. More than one-third came from Brazilian Blowout Acai Professional Smoothing Solution bottles labeled “formaldehyde-free,” though formaldehyde content ranged from 6.8 percent to 11.8 percent, averaging more than 8 percent.
We want to know what went on behind the scenes. Stay tuned for news.