Find out why some stylists are saying no to Brazilian Keratin Treatments

Valerie Martin

Valerie Martin, master stylist at Ritual Salon in Austin, Texas, is one of the stylists who is saying no to Brazilian blowout treatments. Martin and some of her fellow stylists grew weary of the product after experiencing shortness of breath and watery eyes while performing the treatment. But after watching a feature on "Good Morning America," Martin put her foot down. The report showed that air samples of two separate salons using Brazilian Blowout contained 8-10% formaldehyde, an alarming result, considering any hair solution containing more than .1% of formaldehyde is considered potentially hazardous and must be reported to stylists by the manufacturer.

Prolonged exposure to formaldehyde can cause cancer, but more immediately, it causes eye and lung irritation.

“I could taste it in my mouth,” says Martin about the treatment. “All my clients had watery eyes, and I even had an air purifier next to them!” Martin no longer offers the Brazilian blowout, and is very skeptical about Brazilian keratin treatments in general. “There are a lot of keratin treatments that say they don’t have formaldehyde, but if you look at the ingredients it says aldehyde. They can call it something else because they changed the ingredient a little bit. But it’s pretty much formaldehyde,” says Martin.

Formaldehyde takes on many names, including methylene glycol and formalin, which is a liquid form of formaldehyde. Many companies are hiding the presence of formaldehyde by substituting it for other names, the most commonly used name being methylene glycol. It is released into the air as formaldehyde once it comes into contact with heat. It’s ironic, considering that the most important step in the Brazilian keratin treatment, the application of heat to seal in the keratin, is in fact the most dangerous one.


Read More: Keratin Treatments: Danger or Delight?

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Susonnah Gonzalez

Hi! I'm Susonnah Gonzalez. I write, work and live in Austin, TX. I began my wavy hair journey in college, which is when I really began to explore the needs of wavy hair and the products that work best with it. Every day is different with my hair but every day I learn something new!

I happen to love Simply Smooth keratin treatments. I feel they are safe, they have low levels of Aldehyde releasers in them, and make my hair feel silky smooth, and frizz free, they disclose all the information one might look for when deciding what product to use on their facebook page. This is one product I'm not ready to give up.

The last time I did the Keratin treatment was in August and I like how my hair comes out when I do it. All the a talk about the keratin and I still don't have names. People have been saying that it contains formaldehyde; alright then...TELL ME WHICH TREATMENTS HAVE FORMALDEHYDE!!!!!!!!!!!!! So far the brand that I use, La Brasiliana, has not been mentioned however I feel like I need to stop using the treatment in general.

I agree with you tay, it's certainly appropriate for to present both sides in a balanced way. I just expected them to be more thorough about presenting both sides evenly and in a more timely fashion. A few months have elapsed since Oregon OSHA's findings. A few months in internet time is like an eternity. And in those three months that have passed, this article was the most they've put forth on this major industry issue. It's disappointing is all.

I feel like with any company or internet source, wanted to be the first to promote a product so they can say "you heard it first." However, I commend for at-least printing new info they heard about BKT once they received the news. Had they not written anything, then our readers may have wondered why weren't they informed of the potential harm they were causing upon themselves. As in with all new trends, or even medication, you must do your own research or wait and see the end results from those who are so quick to jump on the ban-wagon and try anything when it first comes out. All the time you hear and read about a new medication that's supposed to be the wonderful miracle drug or the latest weight loss pill with so called "no side effects." How often do we find out years later that the so called wonder drug causes birth defects, or heart failure or sudden suicidal ideation? How often do we hear that the "no side effect" weight loss pill actually causes strokes and heart attacks? As with any product or pill, as long as the company can make money off of it, they will sell you a dream or quick fix because they know most consumers are looking for magic in a bottle.

I am honestly appalled at how under-researched this article is. I have read or watched almost every piece of news coverage on the Brazilian Blowout/Keratin Treatment issue since last summer. This article read like a local newspaper article. Not what I would expect from a website that proclaims to be on the pulse of curly hair trends. I had the Brazilian Blowout five times in two years and loved it. I was crushed to see it so maligned in the press. I was so relieved to read/watch all of Michelle's pieces on her Keratin Treatments. I am a worry wart and went back and forth over whether to get the Brazilian Blowout again. I did it again only after reading her glowing endorsement. While I agree wholeheartedly that BB capitalized unfairly by proclaiming that it is formaldehyde free, it is still the mildest treatment and one of the ONLY treatments (Cadiveu is the other) that you don't have to leave in your hair for a couple days. They all have formaldehyde. It's the truth. But most commercially produced clothing is treated with formaldehyde before it leaves it's factory in Asia. Most cosmetics contain formaldehyde, that includes hair products, and toothpaste! Oh, and for anyone who drinks diet soda, guess what? You are ingesting formaldehyde! Getting keratin treatments is like getting plastic surgery. You need to do your research, seek out an informed stylist, and know that you are exposing yourself to potentially harmful chemicals that you may have an adverse reaction to. I think it is really unprofessional that has waited so long to comment on such a major controversy in the beauty/haircare world. Michelle the administrator should have responded in kind as so many of us curly girls took her endorsement of the keratin treatments very seriously.

Please disregard everything I stated in my previous entry. Upon a little more research it is poison just like the rest it just has not been banned YET. I guess its onward and upward in the battle for smooth shiny hair.

The majority of these have way higher levels of formaldehyde than they say. The only way to find the name of one without it is to search through French or southern Ireland salon sites. I know I spent three and a half hours doing it and armed with my knowledge after lurking I wanted to share. France and southern Ireland (not Northern Ireland because its cosmetics are allowed through almost as easily as we do here in the US), have extremely strict laws about what is allowed in cosmetic products. They were the first countries to ban some of the easily searched keratin treatments. Feel free to search yourself, I can not vouch for results but I am going to find a stylist to apply the cadiveu (it translates as cadiveu smoothing brazilian)heres a link to a site make sure to use a browser that translates unless you read fluent french though,  I do not post on forums so my link posting ability is semi-limited. I will actually keep you updated after I get it done. I chopped my hair due to frizz, so we shall see.

Completely agree Johanna. It's one thing if they thought it was a great thing this summer and didn't realize it's harmful effects... but they don't even acknowledge the fact that at one point they promoted it. should give an explanation behind why they are all of a sudden flip flopping on the keratin treatment.

I love and am a loyal reader, but this article needs editing, and that makes me take the content less seriously. Did they mean "weary" or "Wary", and there are more errors. It just seems rushed, not their usual level of writing. (nice photos, though!) Yes, a smart person will do research, check with others, and not assume everything is safe. Read this link for a chemist's perspective, very good info imho:

I agree Johanna, I was thinking the same thing.

Thank you. I thought it was just me, because as soon as I saw this I thought, "But haven't they been promoting Keratin products all year?" I thought about doing it, but then read the ingredients lists on the shampoo and didn't like what I saw. I'll be sticking with my Ouidad cut and my JessiCurl products.

I'm with you, JohannaEG. I was logging in to say the same thing and saw your comment. I had already heard about all this the whole thime naturallycurly kept promoting this product. People read the info on this site without questioning its safety-maybe do some research first

I don't see what the problem is with having different sides of a debate going on here. Just like sometimes, I want short hair or long hair, sometimes I want to embrace my curls and sometimes I just want it more relaxed and easy to deal with like after a Brazilian treatment. Thanks for the article. I'll be asking my stylist exactly which keratin treatment brand he uses.

You do realize that you were promoting Brazilian Keratin treatments all summer long, right? I'm getting tired of trying to appease everyone who might come to the site. You don't have to promote all things at the same time that you discourage them.

Yeaaah.. none for me thanks. :/