The makers of the Brazilian Blowout are on the hot seat again.
This story first appeared in the November 12, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The state of California filed a complaint in Superior Court for injunctive relief and civil penalty against GIB LLC, the company that is doing business as hair-smoothing treatment Brazilian Blowout, alleging that it failed to warn consumers and stylists that the treatment contains formaldehyde, a violation of California’s Safe Cosmetics Act.
The firm has “knowingly and intentionally exposed salon workers and customers to formaldehyde,” states the document, which was filed in Alameda County by the state attorney general’s office of Jerry Brown, governor elect of California, on Wednesday.
The formula of Brazilian Blowout was brought into question in early October after the Oregon Health & Science University’s Center for Research on Occupational and Environmental Toxicology released lab results that indicated the Brazilian Blowout formula contained formaldehyde. The tests were conducted after stylists at two Portland-based salons complained of eye irritation, burning noses and other symptoms, and submitted samples of the product from their salons to the center.
The company, based in Los Angeles, markets the straightening treatment as formaldehyde free on its Web site and promotional materials, a violation of Proposition 65, the complaint said. It asks that Brazilian Blowout remove these phrases, including “formaldehyde free,” and “safe” from its Web site and on packages and promotions.
GIB has said the manufacturer of its products, Cadiveu Brasil, is where to point the finger. But a Cadiveu representative has said it hadn’t supplied Brazilian Blowout with product for six months. GIB LLC disputes that and also questioned the sample Oregon Occupational Safety & Health Division used in its initial lab tests.
However, on Oct. 29, OSHA released results of a subsequent and more comprehensive sampling of 100 smoothing products from more than 50 Oregon salons, which confirmed earlier test results that showed significant levels of formaldehyde in products, including those that call themselves “keratin-based” and are labeled “formaldehyde free.” Of the product samples tested, 37 came from bottles of Brazilian Blowout Acai Professional Smoothing Solution, where the formaldehyde content averaged 8.68 percent; several other brands of hair straighteners were also found to contain more than 0.1 percent formaldehyde. According to Oregon law, solutions with a formaldehyde content of more than 0.1 percent must list formaldehyde as an ingredient. Air monitoring also took place during Brazilian Blowout treatments at five different salons where a single treatment was conducted over the course of the day. Averaging over an eight-hour period, worker exposures ranged from 0.006 parts per million (ppm) to 0.331 ppm, well below the permissible exposure limit of 0.75 ppm.
In response to the state’s complaint, Brazilian Blowout pointed only to OSHA’s air monitoring results, and said in a release, “We firmly believe that its investigation will validate the results of Oregon OSHA’s air monitoring studies, once again confirming the safety of this product. We look forward to working directly with the Attorney General to dispel the innuendo and rumor currently surrounding Brazilian Blowout.”