News: Health Canada issues warning against hair-smoothing treatments

If you’ve got frizzy hair, sister, I feel your pain. There are days when I know my frizz can’t be


If you’ve got frizzy hair, sister, I feel your pain. There are days when I know my frizz can’t be tamed, and those are not good days, my friends. Those are not good days at all. But there are just some things that the fuzzy-headed should, perhaps, not do in the name of good hair. Number one on that list: hair-smoothing treatments that contain high levels of formaldehyde.

While many of our cosmetic products contain this chemical, Health Canada is warning that several brands of professional hair smoothing treatments have too much of the stuff. Back in October, Health Canada warned that the smoothing treatment called Brazilian Blowout Solution contained 42 times the acceptable limit of formaldehyde used as a preservative in cosmetic products. While the October advisory warned only against the Brazilian Blowout brand, a warning released Friday listed 10 more smoothing treatments that consumers and stylists should avoid.

Formaldehyde is a chemical compound used in a number of products, from building materials to household cleaners. According to Health Canada, the chemical is permitted as a preservative in cosmetics at a maximum level of 0.2 percent. However, the professional smoothing products listed in the warning contain anywhere from 1.4 to 7.0 percent. Formaldehyde is released as a gas when heat is applied to the hair after the treatment is complete, and Health Canada is warning that this may cause reactions such as breathing troubles, and burning eyes, nose and throat. Formaldehyde has been linked to cancer and has been red-flagged as a high hazard by the Environmental Working Group.

So what should you do if you’ve been using these products? If you’ve experienced a reaction to the product, go see your doctor. But if you haven’t experienced any adverse reactions yet, you’ve got no cause for concerns, says Health Canada. Just quit using the stuff, and suggest that your stylist do the same.

In a press release published on their website, the company that makes the Brazilian Blowout Solution maintains that their products contain safe levels of formaldehyde, according to testing done in the US.

Does this warning make you question the ingredients in your other cosmetic products, or do you think they are generally safe?

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