EWG to FDA: Step It Up on Formaldehyde-Laced Hair Straighteners

The maker of Brazilian Blowout -- one of numerous hair straighteners on the market containing formaldehyde, a known carcinogen -- is now required to provide health warnings on its product's packaging and website, revamp deceptive marketing practices and pay civil penalties under California consumer protection law. These measures are part of a settlement agreement between the Los Angeles-based company and California Attorney General Kamala Harris.

Environmental Working Group welcomes this development but is renewing its call on the federal Food and Drug Administration to protect consumers and salon workers from all formaldehyde-laced hair straighteners.

Last April, EWG sent FDA a citizen petition asking it to investigate the marketing practices of more than a dozen companies misrepresenting or hiding their products' formaldehyde content. The petition asked FDA to consider banning formaldehyde in hair straighteners and require a warning label on the products indicating that they contain or release the known carcinogen.

To date, FDA has yet to make a decision on the petition. Last September, the agency sent a warning letter to the makers of Brazilian Blowout but has done little else to protect consumers from formaldehyde-laced hair products. Even the cosmetics industry-funded Cosmetic Ingredient Review panel has declared formaldehyde unsafe at any level in hair straighteners. Taking action should be a no-brainer for FDA, given the risks associated with these products, documented in dozens of adverse event reports.

That's why EWG has sent a letter to FDA asking for an update on the petition and urging it to move ahead with action against formaldehyde-based hair straighteners in the interest of public health.

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