Your Brazilian blow-dry could be poisoning you

Brands are being called out over unsafe levels of chemicals.

Brazilian blow dry health risks

The products used for Brazilian blow-dries are coming under fire in the US for being toxic and unsafe to anyone using them or around them.

The ‘Brazilian Blowout’ brand, which supplies to Australian salons, and is so popular people have adopted the name to describe chemical straightening treatments as a whole, is being targeted by the non-profit Environmental Working Group over the chemicals it contains. And it isn't the first time.

EWG claims that Brazilian Blowout have ignored previous warnings from the US FDA about the levels of formaldehyde in their product, a known Carcinogen – a chemical or substance which may put people at an increased risk of cancer.

“On August 22, 2011, the FDA issued a warning letter to GIB, LLC, the company that makes Brazilian Blowout. The letter asserted that the product was adulterated, i.e., too dangerous to sell in interstate commerce, and misbranded, due to its false claims that the product was formaldehyde-free,” EWG states in an essay timed to coincide with ‘National Brazilian Blowout Day’.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission also urged Aussie salons to check the ingredients in their straightening products following the recall of six different brands in 2011, Brazilian Blowout Professional Smoothing Solution included.

“In relation to most cosmetics in Australia, the maximum safe limit for free formaldehyde is 0.2 per cent,” the ACCC’s website states.

“These limits are based on a comprehensive expert risk assessment undertaken by NICNAS (National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme). Cosmetic products that exceed these limits are hazardous and would be non-compliant with relevant state and territory legislation.”

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Following the warning, Brazilian Blowout launched ‘Brazilian Blowout Zero’, an alternative product that works via plant-based ingredients including sugar cane, and ‘smooths’ the hair rather than ‘straightening’ it. It is a much safer option for both you and your hairdresser.

While many other brands have also reformulated their products to be safer, there is no government body responsible for safety testing beauty products as they enter Australia, it is purely up to the suppliers to ensure they’re fit for public use and comply with ACCC standards.

It’s the same in America, where Brazilian Blowout is based, and EWG claims that the company continues to defy regulators.

“Michael Brady, GIB LLC’s chief executive officer, didn’t seem chastened. Following the settlement, he bragged to the New York Times that insurance would cover the company’s expenses and that GIB would “get to sell the product forever without reformulation.” GIB failed to fully comply with the settlement until Kamala Harris, Brown’s successor as state Attorney General, obtained a court order against the company in November 2012,” they state.

“Only then did GIB change its product formula – and not by much. The new formula contains between three and seven per cent liquid formaldehyde, down from 11.8 per cent in the original formula.

“Meanwhile, other formaldehyde hair products escaped similar legal action and FDA attention.”

US senators are currently working to pass the Personal Care Products Safety Act, a bill that would update the law so that companies are required to prove the safety of their products before marketing them.

As there’s a risk unregulated products could still be in some Aussie salons, and are freely available to buy online, make sure you always ask about their chemical content. Because no amount of shiny, beautiful hair is worth risking cancer (and other health issues) for.