The Investigative Fund
March 19, 2012
On March 5, the New York Times reported that Brazilian Blowout, makers of a popular hair straightening service, had agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit for about $4.5 million. Earlier this year, the North Hollywood, California-based company agreed to pay $600,000 in fees and penalties in a settlement with the California Attorney General.
Both suits were brought about because independent lab tests have shown that Brazilian Blowout emits formaldehyde gas, a known carcinogen, when heated during application. In 2010, regulators in Canada and Oregon issued warnings after stylists and consumers reported that exposure to the styling treatment was also causing nosebleeds, respiratory difficulties, and eye irritation, among other problems. The federal government’s Food & Drug Administration sent its own warning letter in August 2011.
But even though public health officials have issued such warnings, though salon workers and consumers have reported health consequences, and the courts have demanded more than $5 million in fines, Brazilian Blowout remains in salons and on the head of many a beauty consumer, because no government agency, including the FDA, has the authority to issue a recall.