Quantcast

Toxic Chemicals in Brazilian Blowout and Other Salon Products Increase Risk of Cancer

Health + Wellness

Women's Voices for the Earth

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Bloody noses. Blistering rashes. Piercing migraines. These are just a few of the symptoms veteran hairstylist Jennifer Arce experienced after she was diagnosed with chemical poisoning by her physician. The source? A product millions of women use to straighten their hair every day: Brazilian Blowout.

Arce, a stylist in San Diego for more than 18 years, used the experience to organize other affected colleagues to take their stories to California lawmakers and the Food and Drug Administration. Brazilian Blowout has since been banned in the state, but similar hair smoothing products also containing carcinogenic formaldehyde remain on the market. Her next step is distributing a new fact sheet from Women’s Voices for the Earth (WVE) to salon workers and clients. The fact sheet describes chemicals to avoid in hopes more salons will choose to go green for the health of their customers and stylists.

“Many of my colleagues have been bullied, threatened physically and threatened to be fired for speaking up about being sick or for not wanting their clients exposed to toxic formaldehyde,” Arce said. “Many of us don’t have health insurance. Our health and our livelihoods are being taken away from us and we are not going to let this happen without a fight.”

“We hope the fact sheet will educate consumers and workers and inspire them to work for change at the policy level,” explained Erin Switalski, WVE’s executive director. “Salon products are exempt from ingredient labeling requirements, limiting the availability of this important information on chemical exposure, so we are trying to fill in the gaps.”

Like many products containing toxic chemicals, what’s considered good enough for American consumers is banned in the European Union. A recent study by RAPEX, an EU regulatory body, discovered nine keratin hair smoothing products containing high levels of formaldehyde, which resulted in their removal from European markets.  Yet they remain widely available in the U.S., and several of the products are falsely touted “formaldehyde-free.”

Under current federal regulations, it is legal for cosmetics manufacturers to use unlimited amounts of virtually any ingredient in salon and professional use products, as well as those sold to the general public, including chemicals linked to cancer, reproductive and developmental harm, hormone disruption and other adverse health impacts, with no pre-market safety assessment.

A growing body of scientific evidence indicates there is reason for concern, showing hairdressers are at increased risk of cancers of the lung, larynx, bladder and multiple myeloma compared to the general population. One study has shown that nail salon workers have higher levels of di-n-butyl phthalate (DBP), a reproductive and developmental toxicant, than the general population.

Another study found that beauticians and hairdressers are likely to have significant exposure to solvents that are linked to birth defects. Other studies have found cosmetologists are at a higher risk for having spontaneous abortions and low birth weight babies.

As for Arce, she’s considering switching careers. She doesn’t want to stop being a stylist—she loves helping her longtime clients look and feel their best, but her health can’t withstand the constant exposure.

Visit EcoWatch’s HEALTH page for more related news on this topic.

———

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Logging state in the U.S. is seen representing some of the consequences humans will face in the absence of concrete action to stop deforestation, pollution and the climate crisis. Mark Newman / Lonely Planet Images / Getty Images

Talk is cheap, says the acting executive secretary of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, who begged governments around the world to make sure that 2020 is not another year of conferences and empty promises, but instead is the year to take decisive action to stop the mass extinction of wildlife and the destruction of habitat-sustaining ecosystems, as The Guardian reported.

Read More
The people of Kiribati have been under pressure to relocate due to sea level rise. A young woman wades through the salty sea water that flooded her way home on Sept. 29, 2015. Jonas Gratzer / LightRocket via Getty Images

Refugees fleeing the impending effects of the climate crisis cannot be forced to return home, according to a new decision by the United Nations Human Rights Committee, as CNN reported. The new decision could open up a massive wave of legal claims by displaced people around the world.

Read More
Sponsored
The first day of the Strike WEF march on Davos on Jan. 18, 2020 near Davos, Switzerland. The activists want climate justice and think the WEF is for the world's richest and political elite only. Kristian Buus / In Pictures via Getty Images

By Ashutosh Pandey

Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg is returning to the Swiss ski resort of Davos for the 2020 World Economic Forum with a strong and clear message: put an end to the fossil fuel "madness."

Read More
Protesters attend a rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court held by the group Our Children's Trust Oct. 29, 2018 in Washington, DC. The group and the plaintiffs have vowed to keep fighting and to ask the full Ninth Circuit to review Friday's decision to toss the lawsuit. Win McNamee / Getty Images

An appeals court tossed out the landmark youth climate lawsuit Juliana v. United States Friday, arguing that the courts are not the place to resolve the climate crisis.

Read More
The land around Red Knoll near Kanab, UT that could have been razed for a frac sand mine. Tara Lohan

By Tara Lohan

A sign at the north end of Kanab, Utah, proclaims the town of 4,300 to be "The Greatest Earth on Show."

Read More