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Brazilian Blowout – Where Are The Victims? Where Is The Outrage?

12 comments

There are likely thousands of stylists and hair care workers suffering quietly as a result of their repeated exposure to Brazilian Blowout, while its manufacturer continues to deceive and continue to make millions. But where are these sick people, and where is the outrage?

Why are the sick not coming forward?

This question has perplexed us for several months, but having spoken to the courageous few that have come forward, we have pinpointed four factors that cumulatively explain the silence – the disease is slow to progress and symptoms are often misdiagnosed; demand for the Brazilian Blowout remains high; Hair Stylists are financially conflicted; and, GIB LLC (hereinafter referred to as “Brazilian Blowout”) the company responsible for the popular salon service, continues to deflect questions and deceive the public.

The Illnesses caused by Exposure Are Slow To Develop

Short-term effects to formaldehyde exposure are well-known – burning sensations in the eyes, nose and throat; coughing; wheezing; nausea; and skin irritation. People don’t want to believe they are being harmed by exposure to formaldehyde, so they will explain away the symptoms as bronchitis, a cold, asthma, or some other transient disease that will hopefully heal. But, at what level and at what point does exposure to formaldehyde become dangerous in the long-term and what are the effects?

Research studies of workers exposed to formaldehyde suggest an association between formaldehyde exposure and several cancers, including nasopharyngeal cancer and leukemia. These studies did not characterize the specific work practices and exposure levels, but, studies such as these caused OSHA to establish standards for formaldehyde exposure for workers that are well below the numbers found at salons using Brazilian Blowout.

Although the stylists that perform the Brazilian Blowout procedure are obviously experiencing short-term effects, a cancer diagnosis is not as obvious currently.

Demand Remains Very High

Lets face it, formaldehyde, and thus, Brazilian Blowout does in fact take the frizz out of hair and gives the recipient of the procedure more than a month of “wash and wear” hair. Therefore, despite actions taken by OSHA, Congress and the FDA – demand for the “celebrity hair obsession” has not decreased. The danger is not really to the person in the chair getting the treatment, but to the person behind the chair, repeatedly giving the treatment.

Many recipients of Brazilian Blowout suspect that there is something not quite right about a request to keep their eyes closed during an hour-long hair procedure. As they sit in the chair for their procedure, recipients report being troubled by the overwhelming chemical smell. Furthermore, many report they suspect the sniffling/blood shot eyes of the stylist isn’t a normal reaction. However, even those recipeints that suspect something wrong, contemplate a follow up procedure after they have experienced a few months worth of “great hair days.”

Hair-Stylists Financially Conflicted

Nobody wants to quit doing something that is profitable, and we will rationalize our actions when a financial conflict exists. At an average of $300/service, Brazilian Blowout is one of the most expensive services a salon can offer – leaving both salon owners and stylists conflicted about the risk they take in offering these services.

Although stylists and salon owners are the people most likely to experience injuries as a result of repeat exposure to the formaldehyde in this product, most are unwilling to speak out against the procedure.

Just as the stylist wants to believe they are not being injured, these workers who rely on this money to put food on the table want to believe that the product is actually safe.

Brazilian Blowout continues to Mislead

Feeding on this financial conflict, Brazilian Blowout has consistently misled and deceived the public and regulatory bodies about the true chemical make-up of its product.

Even if the stylist, salon owner, or recipient were to do research into the Brazilian Blowout products they would at some point come to a “he said/she said” dead-end to their research. Brazilian Blowout’s "Zero” line of products is being marketed specifically as a “plant-derived 0% formaldehyde treatment” despite OSHA studies and testing clearly finding otherwise.

Of course, this begs the question of whether this company is in essence admitting to formaldehyde in the prior “original” formulation, but, again, Brazilian Blowout continues to offer both versions of their Brazilian Blowout products and maintains that they are 100% confident with regards to the safety and integrity of their products.

Recently the Brazilian Blowout website added a note stating that they are now “working directly with the FDA to help clear up the controversy.” Brazilian Blowout is due to respond to the FDA next Monday, so, we certainly hope that the controversy will be over shortly.

We would love to be wrong about the amount of injuries that have likely occurred as a result of this latest beauty craze, but with the rates and duration of exposure being as high as they are, I fear we are right.

12 Comments

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  1. up arrow

    Thank you for the article, Mr. Hoerman. I am just curious, why not mention the measures that some salons have taken to protect their staff and clients?

    In my studio, I have a three-tier filtration system in place, including source capture (gathering fumes at the point they are produced, before they float out to me or down to my client.)

    This system is widely available to salons, and makes a world of difference! Many clients and colleagues who have had or used a treatment before, mention the dramatic difference when having or performing it using this system. I don’t know if you allow links, so I will post a link in a separate comment, in hopes this comment can remain even if the link cannot.

    Thank you,
    Jordana Lorraine

  2. up arrow

    Salons interested in adding safety precautions can see how I’ve done it at http://www.SaferBrazilian.com, and/or contact Aerovex Systems for more information: http://bit.ly/bCQsLo

  3. Tor Hoerman says:
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    Thank you for your comment, Jordana. Your link is very interesting – it is great to hear that you have taken precautions like this to decrease your risk of injury from formaldehyde.

    With regards to your question about why I have not highlighted safety measures taken at salon – the truth is that most salons have not taken these measures since this company has not been honest about the contents of the product. Installing a filtration system is not a small expense and if the products are (as claimed) 100% plant based, its hard to justify the expense.

    Filtration systems such as the one you refer to, may ultimately help, but, this company first needs to be honest about it’s product so the public can make educated decisions about protecting their health.

  4. Todd says:
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    I had to leave the long beach hairshow early due to the amount of brazilian keratin service being shown on the convention floor. No ventilation at all. I couldn’t breathe and my eyes burned so bad. A friend was doing the device outside and recently stopped offering the service due to health problems. These companies continue to lie to the stylists and salons about the chemicals. Notice the packaging changing also. Products that stated were 100% formaldehyde free are now stating they contain formaldehyde in small print!

  5. irene says:
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    HERE ARE THE VICTIMS!! HERE ARE THOSE THAT HAVE BEEN SERIOUSLY DAMAGED BY THE PRODUCT KNOWN AS BRAZILIAN BLOWOUT!

    ABC News and other media sources in the USA are giving lots of coverage to the dangers created by a product called “Brazilian Blowout”–while NONE of the news media has called attention to the fact that this is a product manufactured and sold by a USA Company in California.

    This type of media ‘news’ is abusing the entire country of Brasil with misleading, unjustified and undeserved criticizm.

    The product has absolutely nothing to do with MY country, BRASIL…

    With the current scandal calling attention to the dangers the product can inflict on users, the misleading ‘news’ does not call attention to the fact that this is a United States made and marketed product. Instead, it makes the product seem to have been produced and marketed from Brasil!

    The producers of Brazilian Blowout are using the well deserved reputation of Brasil as a country of “Beautiful People” to sell a product that has absolutely NOTHING to do with our country!!

    Please call attention to these harmful ‘news’ warnings, and apologize to the country I love and live in for all the real damage done to Brasil by the USA manufacturer and the current ‘news’ on a non-Brasilian product.

    I hope you have the courage to expose this sham…

    Thank you…
    Irene Linda
    São Paulo, BRASIL

  6. up arrow

    Mr. Hoerman, thank you for your reply. I understand the discrepancy in labeling and agree that people should better understand in plain English what they are buying. If we are discussing Brazilian Blowout specifically, it is only the new product, Zero, that says it is plant-based, and its ingredients have not been called into question.

    As for the cost of the air filtration, it really is not that high. The services are so profitable that it pays for itself quickly, and the maintenance costs (additional carbon and filters) are minimal. This is especially true if the salon is wise enough to promote that they have taken this measure to protect their clients and staff–it actually attracts more clients, who will leave their competitors and go to them for that reason. Aerovex accepts split payments (say from four stylists) and offers payment plans, as well. Hairdressers spend $300-700 on cutting shears; salons spend $500-1200 to purchase each chair and thousands on each mirror/cabinet station setup. One filtration system is sufficient for most salons, and it can be set up at one station and booked for services by various stylists.

    But so many salons don’t even realize this is available! Articles focus on the fear factor, rather than the possible solutions, and that frustrates me. Thank you for allowing me to bring up these options.

  7. up arrow

    @Irene The creative mind behind the start of Brazilian Blowout as a company was Mauricio Ribeiro, who comes from your hometown of Sao Paulo, although he was living and working in Los Angeles at the time. The product was originally manufactured in Brazil as well.

  8. Irene Linda says:
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    Response to Jordana Lorraine: Yes, the product that is such a USA beauty phenomenon came to the states via a Brasilian man, Mauricio Ribeiro, who — by the way — manufactures ‘The True Brazilian Hair Treatment’ which utilizes amino acid, keratin-based products–which, according to the info obtained from a google search, smooths and relaxes hair and calms dry fly-always… AND, True Brazilian is Formaldehyde-free!! The Google information goes on to say that True Brazilian products are infused with the acai-berry — rich in antioxidants, allowing hair to retain the silky results for longer periods of time…

    Other formulas of this Brazilian-style cosmetic known very well in the states as BrazilianBlowout have been criticized for their harsh chemical contents, while the authentic True Brazilian formula exposes hair to less toxicity than a basic dye.

    But Jordana, it isn’t at all surprising to know that the original idea for this beauty product was imported to the states by a Brasilian. So many ‘American’ things in the states originated here…

    Like the very name of the United States! Did you know that Brasil was ‘the United States of Brasil’ before the United States of America was even born? Some northern politician liked the sound of ‘United States’ so the name was taken over…

    Did you know that we are also ‘America’ – and were America before the US took over that name…

    The USA was so successful in using those names that now we must be known simply as “BRAZIL” and must also be known as located in ‘South America’.

    By the way, Mexico is now known as a north American country — I find that fascinating.

    But back to Brasilian products: where would coffee lovers be, and even businesses like Starbucks be if not for our Brasilian coffee? And where would you be without all the other products that are enjoyed there after originating here, or having been grown here… Even ‘your’ beef!? How about Brasilian sugar, fruits, vegetables, spices, and cocoa?

    And speaking of Brasilian products, I must mention high fashion clothing, shoes, and even sensual items, like bikinis. Let me also mention music… Oh, there’s too much to mention when talking about Brazilian creativity; and far too much that should be mentioned about Brasilian products and ideas being taken over by unscrupulous capitalists (not mentioning any country by name). Seeds from Brasilian rubber trees were exported to be grown in other countries by a USA auto manufacturer, so he could produce it for his own use, without sharing his wealth with Brasil.

    And have you ever heard of Santos Dumont? Because I must also mention the airplane as first successfully flown by a Brasilian… but nevermind…

    The big mouth of Media in the so called First World is loud and far reaching; but like many loud sounds, it is very irritating when it shouts lies that so many people in the world believe…

    Be careful what you believe… and always, if you read something negative about Brasil, think twice. It’s more than a little possible that someone in the states has found a way to make a lot of money by using the reputation of Brasil for their own ends… But that doesn’t make it right!

    With sincere appreciation for letting me get all this off my chest…

    Irene

  9. Irene Linda says:
    up arrow

    Response to Jordana Lorraine: Yes, the product that is such a USA beauty phenomenon came to the states via a Brasilian man, Mauricio Ribeiro, who — by the way — manufactures ‘The True Brazilian Hair Treatment’ which utilizes amino acid, keratin-based products–which, according to the info obtained from a google search, smooths and relaxes hair and calms dry fly-always… AND, True Brazilian is Formaldehyde-free!! The Google information goes on to say that True Brazilian products are infused with the acai-berry — rich in antioxidants, allowing hair to retain the silky results for longer periods of time…

    Other formulas of this Brazilian-style cosmetic known very well in the states as BrazilianBlowout have been criticized for their harsh chemical contents, while the authentic True Brazilian formula exposes hair to less toxicity than a basic dye.

    But Jordana, it isn’t at all surprising to know that the original idea for this beauty product was imported to the states by a Brasilian. So many ‘American’ things in the states originated here…

    Like the very name of the United States! Did you know that Brasil was ‘the United States of Brasil’ before the United States of America was even born? Some northern politician liked the sound of ‘United States’ so the name was taken over…

    Did you know that we are also ‘America’ – and were America before the US took over that name…

    The USA was so successful in using those names that now we must be known simply as “BRAZIL” and must also be known as located in ‘South America’.

    By the way, Mexico is now known as a north American country — I find that fascinating.

    But back to Brasilian products: where would coffee lovers be, and even businesses like Starbucks be if not for our Brasilian coffee? And where would you be without all the other products that are enjoyed there after originating here, or having been grown here… Even ‘your’ beef!? How about Brasilian sugar, fruits, vegetables, spices, and cocoa?

    And speaking of Brasilian products, I must mention high fashion clothing, shoes, and even sensual items, like bikinis. Let me also mention music… Oh, there’s too much to mention when talking about Brazilian creativity; and far too much that should be mentioned about Brasilian products and ideas being taken over by unscrupulous capitalists (not mentioning any country by name). Seeds from Brasilian rubber trees were exported to be grown in other countries by a USA auto manufacturer, so he could produce it for his own use, without sharing his wealth with Brasil.

    And have you ever heard of Santos Dumont? Because I must also mention the airplane as first successfully flown by a Brasilian… but nevermind…

    The big mouth of Media in the so called First World is loud and far reaching; but like many loud sounds, it is very irritating when it shouts lies that so many people in the world believe…

    Be careful what you believe… and always, if you read something negative about Brasil, think twice. It’s more than a little possible that someone in the states has found a way to make a lot of money by using the reputation of Brasil for their own ends… But that doesn’t make it right!

    With sincere appreciation for letting me get all this off my chest…

    Irene

  10. Irene Linda says:
    up arrow

    Response to Jordana Lorraine: Yes, the product that is such a USA beauty phenomenon came to the states via a Brasilian man, Mauricio Ribeiro, who — by the way — manufactures ‘The True Brazilian Hair Treatment’ which utilizes amino acid, keratin-based products–which, according to the info obtained from a google search, smooths and relaxes hair and calms dry fly-always… AND, True Brazilian is Formaldehyde-free!! The Google information goes on to say that True Brazilian products are infused with the acai-berry — rich in antioxidants, allowing hair to retain the silky results for longer periods of time…

    Other formulas of this Brazilian-style cosmetic known very well in the states as BrazilianBlowout have been criticized for their harsh chemical contents, while the authentic True Brazilian formula exposes hair to less toxicity than a basic dye.

    But Jordana, it isn’t at all surprising to know that the original idea for this beauty product was imported to the states by a Brasilian. So many ‘American’ things in the states originated here…

    Like the very name of the United States! Did you know that Brasil was ‘the United States of Brasil’ before the United States of America was even born? Some northern politician liked the sound of ‘United States’ so the name was taken over…

    Did you know that we are also ‘America’ – and were America before the US took over that name…

    The USA was so successful in using those names that now we must be known simply as “BRAZIL” and must also be known as located in ‘South America’.

    By the way, Mexico is now known as a north American country — I find that fascinating.

    But back to Brasilian products: where would coffee lovers be, and even businesses like Starbucks be if not for our Brasilian coffee? And where would you be without all the other products that are enjoyed there after originating here, or having been grown here… Even ‘your’ beef!? How about Brasilian sugar, fruits, vegetables, spices, and cocoa?

    And speaking of Brasilian products, I must mention high fashion clothing, shoes, and even sensual items, like bikinis. Let me also mention music… Oh, there’s too much to mention when talking about Brazilian creativity; and far too much that should be mentioned about Brasilian products and ideas being taken over by unscrupulous capitalists (not mentioning any country by name). Seeds from Brasilian rubber trees were exported to be grown in other countries by a USA auto manufacturer, so he could produce it for his own use, without sharing his wealth with Brasil.

    And have you ever heard of Santos Dumont? Because I must also mention the airplane as first successfully flown by a Brasilian… but nevermind…

    The big mouth of Media in the so called First World is loud and far reaching; but like many loud sounds, it is very irritating when it shouts lies that so many people in the world believe…

    Be careful what you believe… and always, if you read something negative about Brasil, think twice. It’s more than a little possible that someone in the states has found a way to make a lot of money by using the reputation of Brasil for their own ends… But that doesn’t make it right!

    With sincere appreciation for letting me get all this off my chest…

    Irene

  11. up arrow

    @Irene I was not trying to offend your sense of pride in your country, nor was I saying anything bad about Brazil or its products. I was simply replying to your comment that Brazilian Blowout has “absolutely nothing to do with” Brazil. I am aware that Mauricio now has a new company; prior to opening that, he sold his share of Brazilian Blowout and it would appear the trademarked name was part of that. So while the current owner(s) and manufacturer(s) may not be Brazilian, the company’s roots are and that is where the name came from. That, and the fact that it was based on Brazil’s popular process, escova progressiva, which I’m sure you also know.

    I have never seen any indication that the company’s troubles are giving the country a bad reputation up here in NOrth America, so please don’t worry about that. As for the Americas being labeled by geographic region, I have never known anyone to complain about that. If this is a common concern, perhaps you should drum up support for your cause on a more politically-oriented blog post. This one is about the safety of a hair treatment.

  12. Irene says:
    up arrow

    Jordana Lorraine, your polite reply to my exaggerated reaction to the Brazilian Blowout product was undeservedly nice — and very well said — and I do appreciate it.

    I must admit that I am just a bit (or more) thin skinned about the arrogance and misleading news about Brasil (and anything Brasilian) that I so often see coming from the USA, and that is what provoked my letting off steam on the blog about the current slanted media coverage from there on the Brazilian Blowout product.

    Thanks again Jordana.

    And by now perhaps you have realized that this is my first such attempt at taking part in this type of communication… Now I can see that I did step way out of context with my remarks, and am very grateful that you were the one to reply and explain so gently my error at the way I used this blog.

    Sincere regards, Irene