Brazilian Blowout: Are Formaldehyde-Free Claims Fact Or Fiction?

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Lawsuits are being filed left and right in the ongoing strand-smoothing saga that is the Brazilian Blowout. Touted by many of its users as a miracle, the frizz-fighting treatment is facing controversy and court cases over claims that the formula is formaldehyde-free.

Last month, Health Canada and the Oregon division of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) both released warnings stating that, despite being marketed as formaldehyde-free, the Brazilian Blowout solution contains as much as 12% formaldehyde-much higher than the fraction of a percent allowed for preservative purposes.

The agencies have linked their findings to reports they’ve received claiming breathing problems and burning of eyes, nostrils and throat as a result of the formaldehyde becoming aerosolized during heat-based stages of the treatment.

Cadiveu, the company behind the Brazilian Blowout, hasn’t taken the accusations lying down. Standing behind their formaldehyde-free claims, the American branch of Cadiveu has initiated legal proceedings against OSHA for what they call “inaccurate and unsupported” conduct.

OSHA, Cadiveu says, did not use “the only method that accurately measures formaldehyde in water-based cosmetic products,” which is called 13C-NMR. Because OSHA didn’t use 13C-NMR to arrive at their results, they “failed to distinguish between formaldehyde and methylene glycol,” a compound that develops from the hydration of formaldehyde, “and published the percentage as formaldehyde only.”

Furthermore, they dispute OSHA’s air-monitoring tests, promising that exposure is far below the levels deemed safe by the organization.

Cadiveu’s ardent response hasn’t stopped consumers who feel misled and endangered from filing a class-action lawsuit against the company.

“Consumers, stylists, and salon owners have been misled about the safety of Brazilian Blowouts,” says Laura Baughman of the Baron & Budd law firm. “Our concern is that the formaldehyde in this product causes not only a myriad of short-term health problems, including skin irritation and breathing problems, but also that thousands of people are unknowingly exposing themselves to high levels of formaldehyde-a known carcinogen.”

On the other hand, staunch fans of the Brazilian Blowout have resorted to unusual measures to continue supplying and benefiting from the treatment. A recent report by ABC News showed hairstylists and clients wearing gas masks to protect themselves from the dangers of formaldehyde vapors-just in case.

As the FDA investigates, the Brazilian Blowout website still says the treatment “formaldehyde-free.” However, other sections of the site say the formaldehyde level is “more than six times lower than OSHA’s most stringent and conservative standard for air quality safety.” A recent press release states a specific level of 0.0011%.

Where do you stand on the Brazilian Blowout controversy? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

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