Brazilian Blow Dry and Formaldehyde Exposure

February 03, 2021 2 min read

Brazilian Blow Dry and Formaldehyde Exposure

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A concerning fact about Brazilian Blow Dry and formaldehyde exposure has caught our attention. In March, a national newspaper ran an alarming piece about how this straightening treatment can cause a beauty salon to fill with a headache and nausea-inducing formaldehyde fumes and, it turned out, this happens quite often. Adequate beauty salon air cleaning solutions were not used and the article stated that the makers of Brazilian Blow Dry face a class action lawsuit from over 200 people who report that it has caused them health problems. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in the US has already issued a hazard alert on Brazilian Blow Dry and formaldehyde exposure.

OSHA has been investigating complaints from stylists and salon owners that found formaldehyde in the air when some of these products are used. This is despite the fact that some of the products are actually labelled as being "formaldehyde-free" and come without any kind of warning. Formaldehyde is a colourless, pungent-smelling gas which presents a serious health hazard when it is inhaled or comes in contact with the eyes or the skin. It can irritate the eyes and nose and cause coughing and wheezing. It is a potent sensitiser and may cause allergic reactions of the skin, eyes, and lungs. It can even cause blindness and has been linked to the development of nose and lung cancers.

Formaldehyde's role in hair straightening is to bond the keratin (a natural hair protein) in the product to the hair. Formaldehyde has long been used in the commercial textile industry to straighten wool. The way formaldehyde reacts in the hair-straightening products means that it could well be present in a different (but still hazardous) chemical form. This provides a loophole that allows the product to be labelled "formaldehyde-free". These other forms are methylene glycol, formalin, methylene oxide, paraform, formic aldehyde, methanol, oxomethane, oxymethylene or CAS Number 50-00-0. So stylists, salon owners - and customers - need to check labels carefully. If any of these chemicals are present at a concentration of 0.1% or more then a number of measures should be implemented in the salon, for example, using certified air filtration systems, improving ventilation, staff training and making hazard information sheets available etc.

The European Union has set the ‘safe’ level of formaldehyde in a hair-straightening product at 0.2% and Italy, Germany, France, and Ireland (but not the UK) have banned products containing more formaldehyde than this. Air quality in hair salons is of critical importance to customers, but even more so to employees, who can be exposed to toxic air on a daily basis. Hair-straightening lotion is only one of many chemicals which are likely to be present in most nail and hair salons.

Adequate ventilation and air purification is key to a safe salon. If formaldehyde is present, then an air purifier fitted with the right gas adsorbent filter cartridge will be able to deal with the issue. If you are looking to improve the air quality in your beauty salon, please call us for your free expert consultation on 020 3176 0524.  We are here to help you achieve a cleaner and healthier environment with easy to use and very cost effective air purification solutions.


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