Emerging Issues and Alerts

Salon Hair Product Update (July 22, 2013)

Read the July 19, 2013 article in the Oregonian Brazilian Blowout complain started in Portland ends in class-action settlement. Learn more about the class action settlement.
Salon Hair Product Update (December 11, 2012)

Members of U.S. Congress issued letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration demanding follow-up attention to concerns issued about Brazilian Blowout and other formaldehyde containing hair smoothing products.
Salon Hair Product Update (October 16, 2012)

The People of the State of California provide evidence demonstrating that Brazilian Blowout violates state air quality standards and request the court to enforce the injunctive provisions of the Consent Judgment against Defendant, GIB. View the Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support of People's Motion to Enforce Consent Judgment (Dated October 9, 2012).
Salon Hair Product Update (June 1, 2012)

Federal OSHA has provided extensive information on the hazards related to hair straightening products containing formaldehyde and formaldehyde releasers. Visit OSHA's site on Hair Salons for detailed information on formaldehyde in salon products and how to protect worker health.

Hair, Formaldehyde, and Industrial Hygiene was posted on the NIOSH Science Blog on February 10, 2012.
Salon Hair Product Update (January 30, 2012)

Press Release: Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Announces Settlement Requiring Honest Advertising over Brazilian Blowout Products
Salon Hair Product Update (November 30, 2011)

The Cosmetic Ingredient Review Board posted "Ingredients found unsafe for use in cosmetics" (11 total, through November 2011). Included on this list is formaldehyde and methylene glycol due to sensory irritation and carcinogenicity. It is noted that "formaldehyde and methylene glycol are unsafe in the present practices of use and concentration in hair smoothing products."

Voting CIR panel members are listed here.
Salon Hair Product Update (November 18, 2011)

The People of the State of California filed papers in support of a motion to enjoin sales of the Brazilian Blowout Smoothing Solution with a hearing scheduled on November 17, 2011. The Hearing was postponed until December 16, 2011. The memos and documents filed are publicly available. View the "Points and Authorities" memo.
Salon Hair Product Update (November 1, 2011)

A scientific publication, Characterization of Formaldehyde Exposure Resulting from the Use of Four Professional Hair Straightening Products was published in the November issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene. View the abstract.

Oregon OSHA and CROET received a Spotlight Award for Issue Management from the Public Relations Society of America, Portland Chapter. Read more about this in our Blog.
Salon Hair Product Update (September 27, 2011)

Federal OSHA issued an updated alert regarding formaldehyde in Brazilian Blowout and other brands of hair smoothing products. View OSHA's Alert.

OSHA also posted a letter to the manufacturer of Brazilian Blowout identifying over-exposures resulting from use of the Brazilian Blowout Acai Professional Smoothing Solution and demanding that the company remove false and misleading statements from their website and send letters to salons retracting previous claims. View letter.

The Cosmetic Ingredient Review Board (CIR) will conclude their fall meeting today, including making final determinations of formaldehyde/methylene glycol in hair smoothing products. See the CIR's final assessment for formaldehyde here.
Salon Hair Product Update (September 7, 2011)

The FDA has issued a letter to the makers of the Brazilian Blowout smoothing solution, identifying the product adulterated and misbranded. Read the letter.

Visit CROET's Blog: Formaldehyde in Hair Smoothing Products: Let's put it to bed.
Salon Hair Product Update (July 5, 2011)

The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel announces findings from it's June 27-28, 2011 meeting. Download meeting results.  These results include the following summary conclusion regarding formaldehyde and methylene glycol:

"To summarize the Expert Panel’s revised tentative amended conclusion:
1.    formaldehyde and methylene glycol are safe for use in cosmetics applied to the skin when formulated to ensure use at the minimal effective concentration, but in no case should formaldehyde equivalents exceed 0.074% (w/w).
2.    the available data are insufficient to determine the safety of formaldehyde and methylene glycol as used in nail hardening products, until additional data on use concentrations are available from FDA or industry.
3.    formaldehyde and methylene glycol are unsafe for use in hair smoothing products, the use of which involves application of high temperatures."
Salon Hair Product Update (June 13, 2011)

View CROET's new poster: 40 Weeks: A Story about Hair, Beauty and Formaldehyde.

Federal OSHA added Background Information to their Hazard Alert on Hair Smoothing Products. Included in this is additional information from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and an updated timeline.

NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) released a Health Hazard Evaluation provided to a salon. In this letter they encourage the salon to discontinue the use of formaldehyde-containing hair products.

The U.S. Government issued warnings listing formaldehyde as a carcinogen.
Salon Hair Product Update (May 12, 2011)

Ten members of Congress have sent a letter to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) expressing their concern regarding excessive formaldehyde concentrations in some hair smoothing products and asking the agency to take immediate action to protect workers and summers. Download the letter.
Salon Hair Product Update (April 11, 2011)

A key document from the State of California's filing for a preliminary injunction in the Brazilian Blowout matter are available. View here: Memorandum of Points & Authorities in Support of Plaintiff's Motion for Preliminary Injunction.

Federal OSHA just released a Hazard Alert: Hair Smoothing Products That Could Release Formaldehyde. In this alert it is specified that "during one investigation, Federal OSHA's air tests showed formaldehyde at levels greater than OSHA's limit in a salon using Brazilian Blowout Acai Professional Smoothing Solution, even though the product was labeled "formaldehyde-free." Read this alert for more details and to learn about the hazards of formaldehyde.

Health Canada has released a list of an additional 11 hair smoothing products that have formaldehyde exceeding the 0.2% set by Health Canada. Read the Advisory.
Salon Hair Product Update (March 25, 2010)

The American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) has released a podcast describing the initial phases of the Brazilian Blowout investigation, and its beginnings in Oregon. Listen to the podcast.
Salon Hair Product Update (March 14, 2011)

The Cosmetic Ingredient Review Board (CIR) reaffirmed its 2005 conclusion that formaldehyde/methylene glycol should not exceed 0.2% when used in cosmetics, including "professional use only" hair lightening and smoothing products. The CIR further added that it could not conclude "that formaldehyde/methylene glycol is safe in cosmetic products intended to be aerosolized or in which formaldehyde/methylene glycol vapor or gas will be produced under conditions of use."

Maker of Brazilian Blowout drops lawsuit against OHSU and Oregon OSHA.

California Department of Public Health has published: Q&A: Brazilian Blowout & other hair smoothing salon treatments.
Salon Hair Product Update (February 11, 2011)

Oregon OSHA has issued an updated statement on hair smoothing products to dispel media rumors.
Salon Hair Product Update (December 10, 2010)

ACC Issues Position on the Formaldehyde Content of Some Popular Hair-Smoothing Products.

Health Canada Issues Dec. 10, 2010 Advisory: Several Professional Hair Smoothing Solutions Contain Formaldehyde.

Cal-OSHA update on "Hair Smoothing Products that May Contain or Release Formaldehyde."

Washington Department of Labor & Industries: DOSH Hazard Awareness eBulletin for salon stylists and cosmetology schools.
Salon Hair Product Update (November 12, 2010)

Oregon Health Licensing Agency issues Oregon OSHA alert to Oregon stylists. More information from Oregon Health Licensing Agency.

Connecticut Department of Public Health issues warning about hair straightening products.

News from California Attorney General. Directly access the State of California Complaint for Civil Penalty and Injunctive Relief here.
Salon Hair Product Update (October 29, 2010)

Oregon OSHA has released several important documents related to the discussion on hair straightening products. Access the following pertinent documents:

    Keratin Based Smoothing Products and the Presence of Formaldehyde issued by Oregon OSHA and CROET at Oregon Health and Science University.
    October 29, 2010  Press Release: Oregon OSHA reiterates caution to salons using hair smoothing products
    Oregon OSHA Hazard Alert: Hair Straighteners and Formaldehyde

Additionally, CROET is aware of information provided by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) noting formaldehyde use in cosmetics as "safe with the following qualification: … ≤0.2% as free Formaldehyde, but keep to minimum; and should not be used in products intended to be aerosolized." CROET urges continuing conversations about the safety of these products among those agencies and manufacturers responsible for such determinations.
Salon Hair Product Update (October 27, 2010)

Health Canada has issued an update to their advisory about Brazilian Blowout Solution. See Health Canada update.
Salon Hair Product Update (October 22, 2010)

FDA Receives Complaints Associated With the Use of Brazilian Blowout (updated October 18, 2010).  See FDA update.

Oregon OSHA to release comprehensive report later next week.
Salon Hair Update (October 11, 2010)

Oregon OSHA advises continued caution by salon workers. See October 8, 2010 News Release.
Salon Hair Update (October 7, 2010)

Health Canada issued an alert today, October 7, 2010 "warning Canadians that Brazilian Blowout Solution manufactured by Brazilian Blowout of California has been found to contain unacceptable levels of formaldehyde....Testing conducted by Health Canada found that the Brazilian Blowout Solution contains 12% formaldehyde." More information from Health Canada.
Salon Hair Update (October 1, 2010)

We have new information to add to our updates below. Please carefully read this update along with the previously posted alerts on this topic.

Laboratory Analysis:

CROET received the written lab analytical report from Oregon OSHA on the second sample (Acai Professional Smoothing Solution labeled "formaldehyde free"). In addition to the previously reported formaldehyde (identified in concentrations using four different testing methods at 10.6%, 6.3%, 10.6% and 10.4%) this product was also found to contain methanol, ethanol, 1-hexadecenanol, and phenol. The concentrations of these final four chemicals was not determined, and formaldehyde is still considered to be the highest priority at this time. Oregon OSHA has also reported to news media analytical results from a container from a third Portland-area salon of the Acai Professional Smoothing Solution labeled "formaldehyde free." Two separate test methods used to analyze this product detected formaldehyde concentrations at 8.4% and 8.6% respectively. The laboratory will continue to report results from other hair straightener products as they are analyzed.


    Due to these findings, it is recommended that salons either cease using this specific brand of hair straightener or take full precautions as identified by OSHA's Formaldehyde Standard. Information on the formaldehyde standard can be found online through the OSHA in your state. Oregon OSHA's formaldehyde standard can be found here.
    Salons should recognize the potential for formaldehyde or other hazardous chemicals to be present in other brands of chemical hair straighteners. Salons are urged to carefully evaluate and request science-based information on the ingredients, including accurate material safety data sheets, and to not use products until such information is available or provided. Oregon OSHA and CROET will continue to provide information on this topic as it is available.

Additional Resources:

OHSU press release (9/30/2010)

Article on Oregonian front page (10/1/2010)

Oregon OSHA's website

CROETweb's Beauty and Salon topic
Salon Hair Product Update (September 24, 2010)

Note: Please carefully read this update and the previously posted September 16, 2010 alert on this site.

Update on Laboratory Analysis:

As reported in our September 16 Emerging Issues and Alert post, CROET has been awaiting the analytical results for a second sample submitted by CROET through Oregon OSHA's Consultation Program. This second sample is of a product named Acai Professional Smoothing Solution (formaldehyde free) originally shipped by Brazilian Blowout to a Portland, Oregon area salon on 8/12/2010. Since September 16, 2010, CROET has been contacted by a number of stylists expressing concern about health effects they report having experienced while using both of the hair formulations.

Laboratory Findings:

The original container, which is labeled "formaldehyde free," was delivered to Oregon OSHA by CROET for sample analysis on September 1, 2010.  The Oregon OSHA laboratory analyzed the sample using four different test methods. Formaldehyde was reported to be detected by each method at 10.6%, 6.3%, 10.6% and 10.4% of the product.

CROET Actions Taken:

    Requested that Oregon OSHA contact California OSHA to evaluate the accuracy of material safety data sheets provided to employers using  Brazilian Blowout, which is a California-based company. CROET will also be working jointly with Oregon OSHA to address other related concerns as they arise, including alerting Federal OSHA to the issue.
    Submitted a report to the Food and Drug Administration regarding branding of the cosmetic.
    Submitted a report to the California Department of Public Health regarding  the 2005 California Safe Cosmetic Act which  collects and reports to the public information on hazardous and potentially hazardous ingredients in cosmetic products sold in California.

Recommendations and Resources:

    This alert targets only one brand of hair straightener because this product was the one used by the stylists seeking assistance through CROET's Toxicology Information Center.  CROET recognizes that other brands used for the same purpose may contain hazardous ingredients.  CROET encourages further discussion and testing of related products to ensure that stylists and those receiving hair treatments are being accurately informed and protected.
    CROET recommends that all stylists and consumers educate themselves on the cosmetics and personal care products that they are using and seek information about potentially hazardous ingredients from manufacturers and distributors of these products. Users should also consider how the product is to be used, and if an action (such as heating with flat irons) may increase exposure potential.
    Stylists and consumers looking for science-based information should be aware of information provided by the Cosmetic Ingredient Board (CIR). Although it is not currently mandated that manufacturers follow the CIR recommendations, the CIR can be a useful source of information. For example, the CIR notes formaldehyde use in cosmetics as "safe with the following qualification: … ≤0.2% as free Formaldehyde, but keep to minimum; and should not be used in products intended to be aerosolized."
    CROET will be creating an alert relating to this issue and users will find it listed here when it is available.
Salon Hair Product (September 16, 2010)

The Problem

CROET was contacted by a salon based in Portland, Oregon, regarding a product used in their salon that had caused difficulty breathing, nose bleeds and eye irritation in stylists using the product as directed. The salon discontinued the use of the product, due to these adverse effects. The product, named Brazilian Blowout Solution, is used as a hair straightener and is heated with flat irons during the treatment process. The material safety data sheet accompanying the product listed no hazardous ingredients or impurities. No chemical ingredients label appears on the container. This specific product was shipped on 8/31/2009 from Brazilian Blowout and is described as “34 oz/1-Liter Brazilian Blowout Solution.”


CROET requested consultative services through Oregon OSHA to chemically analyze this product. The original container was delivered to Oregon OSHA for analysis. Test results demonstrated that the product contains 4.85% formaldehyde. The product also was found to contain methanol, ethanol, beta hydroxyl ethyl methacrylate, and hexadecanol.

Formaldehyde is classified as a probable human carcinogen and mutagen. Formaldehyde is also corrosive and can severely irritate or damage the skin, mouth, eyes and throat. Formaldehyde may cause a skin allergy and an asthma-like allergy.  Employers who expose employees to this chemical are subject to the OSHA Formaldehyde Standard requiring training, air monitoring, personal protective equipment to prevent exposure, and in some cases, medical surveillance. OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard also requires any employer with employees working with hazardous materials to provide effective training and accurate material safety data sheets to identify hazardous materials and how to prevent exposure. If a product contains more than 0.1% formaldehyde, OSHA requires the manufacturer to list it on the material safety data sheet.

CROET is awaiting analytical results for a product named Acai Professional Smoothing Solution (formaldehyde free) originally shipped by Brazilian Blowout on 8/12/2010. We will report on the analytical finding for this sample as we receive it.


CROET is requesting that OSHA investigate why material safety data sheets accompanying this product do not identify the hazardous constituents. CROET recommends salons using this product to contact the manufacturer to request material safety data sheets that accurately identify any hazardous ingredients, and consider evaluating less toxic alternatives. CROET recommends that consumers become informed about the possible toxicities of the salon services they are requesting, and learn about healthier alternatives.

E.P.A. Tightens Limits on Sulfur Dioxide (June 7, 2010)

June 2, 2010 - The Environmental Protection Agency strengthened the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for sulfur dioxide.

EPA Final Revisions to Sulfur Dioxide Primary National Air Quality Standard

NY Times Article

Cadmium Found in Children's Products (Jan 11, 2010)

    Cadmium is illegal in children's toys in more than trace amounts but is not specifically banned. Some Chinese manufacturers have substituted cadmium for lead, which has been banned from use in their products.

    The Consumer Product Safety Commission has launched an investigation and is urging all toy manufacturers around the world to keep a closer eye not only on cadmium, but also antimony and barium being used in place of lead.

        CPSC Chairman's Statement on Cadmium in Children's Products
        Information for Physicians-Case Studies in Environmental Medicine: Cadmium Toxicity

Haiti Earthquake (January 27, 2010)

    Useful safety information for relief workers and others traveling to Haiti

        Guides for Emergency Responders
        NIOSH Emergency Response Resources
        Blood Borne Pathogens
        Silica Dust Exposure
        Heat Stress and Sun Exposure