The product Brazilian Blowout has gained popularity in salons as a smoothing hair treatment. However, in August 2011, the Federal Drug Administration issued a warning letter to Mike Brady, CEO of Brazilian Blowout for having excessive amounts of formaldehyde in the Brazilian Blowout hair treatment. Furthermore, the warning letter admonishes Brazilian Blowout for misbranding its product label by declaring the hair product as “Formaldehyde Free”. The Federal Drug Administration found unsafe levels of formaldehyde when it tested samples of Brazilian Blowout. The tests of Brazilian Blowout confirmed the presence of methylene glycol, the liquid form of formaldehyde, at levels ranging from 8.7 to 10.4%.
The FDA warning letter prompted the Federal Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) to conduct its own investigation into formaldehyde exposure from the hair treatment. It took samples of formaldehyde levels at multiple salons while the hair treatment was being used and found that they exceeded safe levels, which OSHA defines for a fifteen minute time period as less than 2.0 parts of formaldehyde per million parts of air (ppm). In one test, the level of formaldehyde was 4.ppm and in another it was 10.12 ppm. In addition, at the state level Cal OSHA is conducting local investigations into complaints by salon workers who suffered injury as a result of using misbranded hair smoothing treatments. California regulations prohibit formaldehyde levels to exceed an average .75 ppm over an eight hour period. OSHA has released multiple hazard alerts for Brazilian Blowout, most recently of December 8, 2011.
Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen that can irritate skin, cause respiratory problems, blurry vision, and headaches, among other symptoms. Salon workers are most at risk and may inhale formaldehyde when it is released into the air during the application of heat to the product. Physical contact with the product itself can also lead to exposure. OSHA recommends that salon workers wear gloves while handling the product. It also advises that air ventilators be installed in salons that provide hair smoothing treatments as many contain various forms of formaldehyde.
The California Attorney General’s Office filed a lawsuit against Brazilian Blowout on November 5, 2010 for violating Proposition 65 which requires that products which contain ingredients known to cause cancer to be labeled accordingly. The Attorney General also alleges that Brazilian Blowout engages in deceptive advertising practices by labeling its product as “Formaldehyde Free”. The lawsuit is ongoing.
Toxic tort lawsuits have also been brought by individual consumers who received the treatment. Consumers or salon employees who have suffered deleterious effects from hair smoothing treatments such as Brazilian Blowout should contact a toxic tort attorney to find out whether they can recover damages such as medical expenses.