Los Angeles—The California Superior Court, County of Los Angeles, issued an order on November 29, 2012 requiring the manufacturers of Brazilian Blowout hair straightening solution, GIB, LLC (GIB) to stop selling its product in California within 30 days and prove that its new, reformulated product meets California Air Quality Standards. According to the attorney general’s court papers, testing by three different laboratories shows that GIB’s hair straightening product violates California air quality law and emits smog-forming pollutants at levels higher than allowed by the California Air Resources Board. Formaldehyde, a human carcinogen, is a major ingredient in Brazilian Blowout.
“The move to pull the original Brazilian Blowout formula from the market is a victory for women’s health,” said Alexandra Scranton, on behalf of the National Healthy Nail and Beauty Salon Alliance. “Brazilian Blowout continues to expose salon workers to cancer-causing chemicals and it clearly violates California’s air pollution standards.”
In a previous settlement agreement with California Attorney General Kamala Harris’s office, GIB agreed to stop deceptively advertising the product as formaldehyde-free and put caution stickers on their product advising users that it releases carcinogenic formaldehyde gas. The company also agreed to participate in further testing to evaluate whether its Brazilian Blowout product violated California air quality laws and reformulate its product if it were found in violation.
Three independent laboratory tests showed that Brazilian Blowout releases high levels of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and in violation of its previous agreement with the State of California, GIB had refused to either reformulate Brazilian Blowout or remove it from the marketplace. Following that refusal, the California Attorney General’s Office asked the California Superior Court to remove Brazilian Blowout from the market on October 9, 2012.
According to the California Air Resources Board, VOCs are an important component in the formation of ground level ozone, a major part of California’s smog problem. The Board’s air quality standards require that Brazilian Blowout contain no more than six percent VOCs by weight. Testing by two independent labs approved by the company, and testing by the Board, found Brazilian Blowout contained between 8.1 percent and 11.49 percent of regulated VOCs by weight.
“We applaud the attorney general for vigorously pursuing an action against this manufacturer who evidently believes it can ignore the law without repercussion. A cosmetic product should never contain formaldehyde, a known carcinogen and respiratory irritant. It’s reassuring that the original formula of Brazilian Blowout, due to violating air quality laws, will no longer be around to harm consumers and hair salon workers in California,” said Catherine Porter with the National Healthy Nail and Beauty Salon Alliance.
Stylists who regularly perform Brazilian Blowout treatments are exposed to formaldehyde gas at levels well in excess of the state’s Proposition 65 warning threshold, according to the California AG’s lawsuit.
“As a hairstylist that has been seriously affected by Brazilian Blowout, I know firsthand just how dangerous this product is. Getting the original Brazilian Blowout formula off the shelves will be a big win for salon workers who have suffered irreparable health problems due to exposure to this product,” said California salon worker Jennifer Arce.
According to the California Attorney General’s office, the California Air Resources Board will test the reformulation of Brazilian Blowout by December 15 to ensure the product meets the VOC limit of six percent.
Brazilian Blowout has been banned in Canada and at least four other countries, including Germany, France, Ireland and Australia, but is still allowed to be sold in the U.S. The federal Safe Cosmetics Act, introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives in July 2011 by Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) would ban chemicals known to cause cancer from cosmetics, as many other countries have already done.
“This dangerous product never should have been on the market to begin with,” said Janet Nudelman on behalf of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. “But because of lax U.S. regulation, countless stylists and salon patrons have been exposed to harmful levels of formaldehyde. Unfortunately, Brazilian Blowout is just one of many examples of why Congress needs to pass the Safe Cosmetics Act.”