By and  on December 17, 2010

Last October, the “Today” show’s Hoda Kotb stopped by “The Joy Behar Show” to talk about her new book, “Hoda: How I Survived War Zones, Bad Hair, Cancer, and Kathie Lee,” and the two women dished about their hair. Behar told Kotb, “I used to use Agent Orange on [my hair]....Nothing straightened my hair until keratin. I love it. It has formaldehyde [in it], but who is counting?”

Kotb replied, “Who cares? When it comes to that, I’ll take a little.”

The impromptu exchange occurred several weeks after the Oregon Health & Science University’s Center for Research on Occupational and Environmental Toxicology released lab results that indicated the Brazilian Blowout, a popular salon hair-smoothing treatment, as well as nearly a dozen other brands, contained formaldehyde, classified as a probable carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Despite the ongoing scrutiny of its formula, Brazilian Blowout continues to market itself as formaldehyde-free.

Brazilian Blowout’s stumble has a host of companies scrambling to position themselves as the safe alternative. They include Gloss Moderne, Zerran International, Sam Brocato, Ouidad, Lysium Labs, and more are likely to join the fray. But, delivering results on par with Brazilian Blowout, whose treatment can last up to three months, without the use of harsh chemicals, is no easy feat.

Also, Behar’s and Kotb’s sentiments largely reflect how many salon clients — especially those with unruly hair — feel about the Oregon lab’s findings: They are willing to overlook them for the promise of a good hair day every day. “There’s still a yearning for Brazilian Blowout,” said John Barrett, whose luxurious salon banned the treatment last fall.

Clients may be unwilling to part with the service, but the backlash against Brazilian Blowout continues, with government agencies piling on consumer warnings and lawsuits (see related Brazilian Blowout story). The cloud of uncertainty is giving the companies below a running start, as they begin to market their products as a conscientious solution.

Gloss Moderne
The newly formed company aims to smooth consumers’ concerns by making its laboratory tests public. It also pledges to send each batch of the upcoming salon treatment, due out in January, for laboratory testing to reassure stylists and salon patrons that the formula is free of methylene glycol and formaldehyde — or any type of aldehyde — said Kuen Rameson, founder of Gloss Moderne.

Results from a sample analyzed on Nov. 9 by Intertek laboratories stated, “There is no quantifiable formaldehyde found in the sample at a level greater than 0.5 [parts per million].”

To review the test results, stylists can log on to and match their lot number to the corresponding test results. The goal is complete transparency, said Rameson. After all, stylists and their clients are still feeling raw following the media storm about the safety of hair-straightening services.

Gloss Moderne marks Rameson’s second foray into the salon world. Her first was as president of Brazilian Gloss, a hair-smoothing treatment imported from Brazil that began rolling out to salons in March. Rameson continues to serve as president, but emphasized that Brazilian Gloss and Gloss Moderne are two separate companies. Because Brazilian Gloss was imported from Brazil, Rameson said she began to notice inconsistencies in the quality of the product. “I wanted to open each bottle and have the formula look and feel the same,” she said about her reason for forming a separate company for Gloss Moderne.

Also, sensing the storm clouds hovering around Brazilian Blowout, Rameson saw an opportunity to form a separate business, not tied to Brazil, with a global reach and a longer future. Brazilian Gloss continues to operate as a separate entity, and Rameson said it has not been determined if it will continue to operate in the future. Both companies are based in Newport Beach, Calif., but Gloss Moderne manufacturers all of its products in the U.S. and is seeking approval from the EU, as well.

Gloss Moderne is a 90-minute salon treatment, and the cost will likely range between $250 and $400. After-care products are available and free of sulfates, sodium chloride and parabens. “We found that by going formaldehyde free, we could feel good about [promising results] of eight weeks or longer,” she said.

What sets Gloss Moderne apart is that women can wash their hair immediately following the treatment, or throw it back in a ponytail, which is a no-no with other smoothing services. It also uses low heat, or a flat iron set below 380 degrees, to seal hair with a proprietary keratin-based formula. Most treatments rely on 450 degree heat, which Rameson said can burn hair.

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