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
Last week I met a strikingly pretty girl—the kind who has it all going on: skin, eyes, lips. I’m going to call her Kelly. Like myself, Kelly’s a natural beauty enthusiast, and she and I had such a fun girly convo—that is until it turned to hair.
See, Kelly is of mixed race—Scottish and African decent if I’m remembering (her ethnicity is almost impossible to pinpoint visually)—and she grew up in an all-white neighborhood HATING her curly hair. She told me she has never worn it the way I dare to wear mine (and I’m pretty sure that wasn’t meant as a compliment). In fact, Kelly has spent her life wrestling with her curls: As a teenager she did a treatment that made all of her hair fall out—literally—and up until a year ago she was never without a weave. These days she just straightens it religiously and, you know, avoids pool parties. She also tries to avoid rain, sweat, and humidity—and by her own admission plans a lot of her life and movement around keeping her hair straight.
We talked about Chris Rock’s incredible documentary Good Hair, which explores the relationship between black people and their hair—especially what little girls are taught to think about their curls and kinks. Kelly told me that she had something of a meltdown when she watched the movie, seeing her own painful and complex hair relationship reflected back at her. When I expressed how much I’d love to see her with her natural curls, she slit her eyes at me and said flatly: “It will never happen.” OK, got it.
And I do get it. I too dreamt of straight hair and, like Kelly, went to an all-white elementary school where curls were uncommon. I was the only kid of Jewish decent for miles where I grew up, and I got picked on for it by some notorious mean girls and boys. Jokes about my big nose and even bigger hair weren’t uncommon, and extremely painful. As were the nightly brushings and braids I succumbed to because my mother didn’t quite know what to do with my mass.
So, I’m not here to tell everyone they have to accept themselves and love their curls or get all preachy—because I know it can be far more complicated than that, and also not all: Some people just want straight hair. But when I saw this article, The Taming of the Curl, from last week’s Wall Street Journal, I kind of wanted to throw my laptop at the wall.
Sure, it’s just a trend piece, reporting how women long for straight hair and beachy waves instead of curls and frizz. It gets into the dangers around treatments like the Brazilian blowout (though it’s careful not to really condemn it) and quotes an image expert who talks about how professional women just can’t wear their hair in “extremes.” And then it offers up a curly-to-straight slideshow featuring Sarah Jessica Parker (Jewish), Beyonce (black), and Julianna Margulies (Jewish again!). Maybe I’m projecting, but I feel like this slideshow says: Don’t they look so much better? (Oh sorry, Taylor Swift was in the there too because apparently her beachy waves are curls too. I’m calling BS on that one.)
Suffice to say, it’s very hard for me to overlook the racial implications of the war on curls. I’m not saying that this is always the case, or that when it is it’s even conscious, but to my mind ethnicity is part of this complicated curly equation—and not just in Brazil, guys. Right here.
So if the Wall Street Journal is going to take this on, they should be smart enough to realize the implications (they’re the WSJ after all)—and bold enough to acknowledge them.
I’d love to know what you think (and hear any of your stories too).
Oh boy, looks like our food is going to the lab and getting a new name: medical food. What’s that, you say? Oh, just a sketchy-sounding new industry that doesn’t have to be accountable to anyone. In fact, it’s reminding us a lot of another made-up category we love to hate: cosmeceuticals!
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Nestlé just bought a U.K.-based pharmaceutical company in a move to create foods that address diseases. The first one in the works? A chewing gum to help kidney-disease sufferers. The catch? Food (gum included), like cosmetics that use drug-type ingredients, will not be subject to the same screening process as drugs themselves.
And that, my friends, just doesn’t bode well. Here’s an excerpt from the article:
Some doctors worry that medical foods don’t face the same regulatory scrutiny or rigorous testing as pharmaceutical drugs. They warn that food companies have a bad track record of trumping up health claims on products to gain a marketing edge.
Last July, for example, an FTC complaint led Nestlé to drop a claim that its Boost Kid Essentials milk-shake drink protected children’s immune systems.
“With many of these food companies, the claims of managing illness, preventing illness, boosting immunity, boosting immune function—all of those things—are very difficult to prove using the standards that the FDA or similar agencies would use to judge safety and efficacy,” said Michael Starnbach, professor of microbiology and molecular genetics at Harvard Medical School.
To us, this just looks like a new way for companies to lie to consumers, make false claims about their products’ health benefits, play around with drug-like ingredients that we know little about, and possibly put people in danger due to lack of pre-market testing. What do you think?