As of January 30, 2012, a settlement between California and the company that manufactures the Brazilian Blowout has been reached. The state filled a lawsuit against the company in 2010 claiming that the “formaldehyde free” labeling on the product was misleading for clients and stylists using the product. According to California state law, companies are required to disclose the content of cancer-causing chemicals in their products and cosmetics.
The settlement marks the first enforcement of action under the 2005 cosmetics law and requires that the Brazilian Blowout state the level of formaldehyde included in the product, and requires that the company pay a $600,000 fine.
“We commend the California Attorney General’s office for accomplishing what no other government agency in the U.S. has been able to do: force Brazilian Blowout to be honest with salons about the risk of their products. We are also proud that this lawsuit was the first legal action taken by the state under the authority of the California Safe Cosmetics Act of 2005, which forces companies to publicly disclose the presence of cancer-causing chemicals in cosmetics sold in the state,” said Stacy Malkan, co-founder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.
Where is the FDA?
Unfortunately, the warning requirements are the maximum penalty that the California state law can enforce. For the product to be taken off the shelves, the FDA would need to intervene.
“The legal settlement, while helpful, is not enough to protect the public." said Malkan. "The FDA must now follow through on its threat to seize these dangerous hair-straightening products,”
Back in August of 2011, the FDA did release a letter accusing the Brazilian Blowout of selling misbranded products that contained cancerous, harmful products that were in violation of the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act of 1938. According to the letter, “Failure to correct the violations may result in enforcement action without further notice, including, but not limited to, seizure and/or injunction.”
Since then, no action has been taken by either party to address the misbranded information or remove the product from the shelves.
“Obviously, these violations have not been addressed sufficiently,” said Anuja Mendiratta of the National Healthy Nail and Beauty Salon Alliance. “The California Attorney General’s settlement makes it clear that Brazilian Blowout has been selling products containing hazardous substances and marketing them as safe. The FDA must take action today to protect salon workers who are being exposed to dangerous levels of formaldehyde every day.”
For many stylists, the slow movement by the FDA is an example of the poor quality of administration on a governmental level.
“The Brazilian Blowout scandal is the perfect case study to showcase our broken regulatory system,” said Jennifer Goeres-Arce, a hair stylist in the San Diego area who contributed evidence for the state’s lawsuit against the company. “A year after other countries banned Brazilian Blowout, countless salon workers in the U.S. have been unnecessarily exposed to formaldehyde, and we are just now getting around to requiring the company to be honest about the risks of their products. It’s time to give the FDA the power and resources to protect the American public from toxic chemicals in cosmetics.”
The company behind the Brazilian Blowout has released a statement through their PR firm saying that the label changes have already been in place for months and that the settlement is “fair and equitable.”
"We are pleased to have this matter behind us and are confident these new practices will provide certified stylists who use our products each day and their loyal customers clarity and confidence," the statement read.