We have a major victory in California, where the California Superior Court has given GIB, LLC the makers of  Brazilian Blowout hair treatment solution thirty days to reformulate or remove their products from the marketplace. The press release from Women’s Voices for the Earth states that three different testing labs found that Brazilian Blowout emits smog-forming pollutants, in this case, the human carcinogen formaldehyde, at levels that exceed standards set by the California Air Resources Board.
Two things come immediately to my mind: one, the US Food and Drug Administration issued a warning letter, their highest level of enforcement action, to the same company in August of 2011, but has not taken any further action. While the action of the California Court, and prior to that, the action of the California Attorney General’s office, is laudable, hair stylists and their customers across the country need to be protected from unsafe products. Two, this is not the only product on the market…similar hair-straightening formulas have tested with lower levels of formaldehyde and/or ingredients that release formaldehyde under high heat, such as that generated by a flatiron in a salon. These products should simply NOT be on the market.

The question underlying the new California Safer Consumer Product Regulations about chemicals of concern in products of concern is “Is it necessary?” Do we really need a carcinogen to straighten hair? Could there be a better example of why we need these regulations?