Brazilian Blowouts: Pretty Toxic, Actually


Recently, a vortex opened up in the space-time continuum as it was announced that Jennifer Aniston was voted by “60 Minutes” and Vanity Fair to be the most eligible single woman in the world. Nothing against Ms. Jen – my theory is that the vortex happened because she was in a news item that didn’t instantly compare her to Angelina Jolie. (Hopes are this post might restore the tabloids to their proper order.)

The secret to Ms. Aniston’s popularity? Anyone familiar with the “Rachel” of 1990s hair fame knows Jen leads by her locks. And her recent hair style of choice has been a Brazilian Blowout. This is an uber-expensive method of hair straightening that gives clients super shiny, sheeny, and straight hair. The price of this beauty treatment? A few hundred clams. The physical price? Nose bleeds, eye irritation, and trouble breathing – all courtesy of a large dose of formaldehyde.

As ABC News reports, a public health alert was recently issued about Brazilian Blowouts by the Oregon Health and Science University. Researchers found that two formulations of the product contained 4.85 percent to 10.6 percent formaldehyde. The Center for Disease Control reports that even small amounts of formaldehyde can cause physical irritations. Larger amounts can cause cancer.

This is not news to organic hair experts. I called Melissa Tornay at Primrose Organics Salon in Los Feliz, California, to get her reaction to the scandal o’ Brazilian Blowouts. According to Melissa, “We have been trying to warn clients that there is something wrong [with treatments like the Brazilian Blowout] when they are being asked to wear goggles, when the stylists are wearing masks, and when salons are doing the treatment in separate rooms and installing new ventilation systems. It is odd to us that no one seems concerned when we warn them about the ingredients in these types of treatments.”

Further, Melissa informed me that they refuse to carry the chemicals required in a Brazilian. As per Melissa, “We would never put our stylists in the position of using something that may be detrimental to their health.” And yet, Brazilian Blowout stands by their product, even claiming it to be formaldehyde-free. Further, they claim that the test finding 4.85 percent formaldehyde content was invalid because they did not supply the products directly to researchers.

Ultimately, has the news stopped customers? ABC News interviewed Krystal Mansour of Long Island, who was eager to test the product for her frizzled hair. Even though the process “made her eyes water,” she was thrilled with her results and called her hair treatment life changing. According to Mansour, “Now I can show it to the world. I’m just so excited. This product is really awesome.”

Image: pimkie_fotos

Katherine Butler

Katherine Butler is the Beauty Editor of EcoSalon and currently resides in Los Angeles, California.