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Brazilian Blowout to Pay Workers, Customers

Contact: 
202-667-6982
alex@ewg.org
For Immediate Release: 
Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Los Angeles, Calif. – A class action settlement requiring the manufacturer of Brazilian Blowout, a popular chemical hair straightener to pay a small compensation to salon workers and customers who used its formaldehyde-laced products doesn’t go far enough to protect public health.

“A rudimentary understanding of chemistry could debunk the ‘formaldehyde free’ claims that Brazilian Blowout was making,” said David Andrews, PhD, senior scientist with the Environmental Working Group. “While the company now acknowledges that formaldehyde is in its product, that does not mean the product is safe to use.”

According to the New York Times, under the class action settlement, the company would pay about $4.5 million. Customers who claimed they were harmed would get $35 per hair-straightening session, a fraction of the $250 to $600 salons typically charge for hair straightening. They would be compensated for up to three sessions, or a maximum of $105. Salon workers would get $75 for each bottle of the product they bought.

The class action settlement follows the Jan. 30 settlement between the company, GIB, LLC, and California Attorney General's office over alleged violations of the state’s Safe Cosmetics Act. As a result of that settlement, Brazilian Blowout products must display a “CAUTION” sticker. The company agreed to refrain from misleading consumers about the risks associated with its formaldehyde-releasing products and pay $600,000 in fines and litigation fees.

The federal government and World Health Organization classify formaldehyde as a known human carcinogen.

The major American cosmetics makers agree that formaldehyde, manufactured primarily for the construction, automotive and furniture industries, has no place in the salon. The industry’s Cosmetic Ingredient Review panel, a scientific advisory board established by the mainstream cosmetics giants, has declared that formaldehyde is not safe for use in hair straighteners.

Brazilian Blowout is the best known hair-straighter that contains formaldehyde, but an EWG investigation found 16 companies include formaldehyde in their hair smoothing products.

EWG is still awaiting action from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in response to a citizen petition filed last April, asking the agency to investigate and review the safety of formaldehyde-laced hair straighteners. Under current law, the FDA has no authority to order a recall of products, even when they have been shown to harm people.

The Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011 introduced last June by Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) would change that. It would give FDA recall authority as well as the power to require pre-market safety testing to ensure that dangerous products could not be sold to consumers.

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The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, DC that uses the power of information to protect human health and the environment. http://www.ewg.org